Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

Essays for the Common Good: Nine Pastors and Churches Share How They Are Putting Ideas into Practice. Edited by Luke Bobo.

Essays for the Common Good: Nine Pastors and Churches Share How They Are Putting Ideas into Practice. Edited by Luke Bobo. Made to Flourish. 154 pages. 2017

This book, edited by Luke Bobo, features essays written by nine pastors who are finding innovative ways to seek the shalom of the cities where they live, and giving thought-leadership to how faith connects with work and the economy. Each essay is written by a pastor who is part of the Made to Flourish network. They each share a belief that the local church as God designed it can act as an agent of cultural renewal for the common good.

Below are helpful thoughts from each chapter of the book:

Introduction Common Good Springs from Common Grace Luke Bobo

  • As benefactors of God’s special grace, we are called to show common grace to others.
  • Championing the common good means working diligently so that all human beings, have access to at least three E’s: quality education at all levels, an affordable edifice (or home), and the economy (i.e., access to gainful employment and wealth creation).
  • Pursuing the common good requires us to not retreat from engagement with our increasingly post-Christian and religiously pluralistic society; rather, we are called to love our neighbors in concrete ways no matter what they believe, just as Jesus commanded us in the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:34-40).
  • As the body of Christ seeks the common good by pursuing actions and conditions that allow all individuals to flourish, our homes, our workplaces, our communities and our cities will also flourish.

Nothing Special: Why the Call to “Fulltime Christian Service” is So Dangerous Dr. James E. Baucom, Jr.

  • I suggest that our failure to state clearly that all followers of Jesus are called with equal consequence and specificity to their daily work is the primary reason the faith, work, and economics movement has struggled to gain traction in many instances, especially in the local church.
  • Every whole-life disciple of Jesus Christ is called to work for the common good in specific ways.
  • The whole counsel of Scripture is that every person God has created, he has also designed for a specific calling. Not everyone hears and answers this call, of course, but it is there to be discovered and answered by any who will seek it.
  • It is high time that we all stopped pretending that clergy are uniquely called of God for the common good.
  • Every disciple of Jesus is specially called by God to do specific work for the common good.

In Chicago, Hope Works Brad Beier

  • We felt compelled to work at helping our neighbors to work.
  • Hope Works provides an individualized delivery model to address each person’s unique circumstances, especially for the person struggling to enter the job market at the lowest level.
  • Hope Works assists people one-on-one to overcome long-term unemployment and help them and their families to flourish.
  • Every day our story continues, our partnerships expand, and our impact grows for the common good and the glory of God.
  • Work produces hope.

Beautiful and Believable: Solving the Problem of the (Invisible) Church and the Common Good Dru Dodson

  • Too often, discussions regarding economic development and the common good in society ignore the local church as an active agent.
  • The church was never meant to abdicate responsibility for the common good to government agencies and nonprofits.
  • The church is meant to be a kingdom outpost.
  • The local church cannot continue to be invisible either in Christian discussions about the common good or in our practice of how we go about economic empowerment and community development.
  • In most of our churches there is little understanding of the Bible’s economic teaching. Salvation is understood primarily as pertaining to an afterlife destination, not to human flourishing in the here and now. There really is a huge gulf between clergy and laity when it comes to life beyond Sunday.
  • These are the critical components that the contemporary U.S. church needs to recover in order to effectively seek the common good of our communities. These components are (1) recovering apostolic function as seen in chapter one, (2) recovering the Didache as outlined in chapter two, and (3) recovering good works as our top priority, as emphasized in chapter three.
  • The New Testament documents were written to congregations to strengthen and stabilize these young kingdom outposts in their life and mission. We need to reform our way of reading these documents so that we follow the instruction of Christ and His apostles for making disciples.
  • Good works are to encompass and consume our attention, our families, our jobs, our vocations, our very lives. Good works are not an extracurricular activity. In a missional, non-Christian culture, good works are job one.
  • The frontline of the mission is not the church office. The frontline of the mission is the marketplace.

Why Racial Reconciliation is Necessary for Effective Faith, Work, and Economic Integration Anthony Emerson

  • A local church’s effectiveness in integrating faith, work, and economics is largely measured by how well the poor and vulnerable in its community are flourishing.
  • One cannot seriously discuss class, poverty, or economics in the United States without taking a hard look at race.
  • Today, key economic factors continue to be correlated with race. Poverty, rate of homeownership, wealth, income, education-level—these all are significantly affected by one’s race.
  • Perhaps the most egregious form of racial injustice today is mass incarceration and its disproportionate impact on the social and economic well-being of black and brown men
  • If a church is to faithfully practice faith, work, and economics integration for the common good, it is necessary to address economic injustice. With race being a locus of economic injustice in the American context, local churches are called to directly seek racial justice.
  • One cannot separate work and worship. Work is worship. A pastor is to equip his people to do their work well, to worship God with all of their lives.

The Condition of Our Flocks and the Common Good Benson Hines

  • Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) serves needy communities by focusing not on their needs, but first and foremost on their assets.
  • If a church gains an understanding of its people’s assets, it can confidently respond to community requests and obvious needs with an army at the ready.
  • Church leaders can also scrutinize the various skills, experiences, and passions of their membership and then devise “common good” efforts grounded in those assets.

Fake News, False Gospels, and a Life of Faith in the Rusting Bible Bet Travis Lowe

  • In this paper, I will envision the role of the Church in an economic wasteland. I will also share exemplary stories from Church history and testimonies of how God is using the Church I serve to bring flourishing in Appalachia.
  • Historically, the Church has led in at least three areas I see as crucial to bringing renewal to economically challenged small towns across America. These three areas are innovation, networking, and justice.

Toward a Revival of Good Works John E. Pletcher

  • Christ-followers who make an impact on the kingdom recognize the kingdom of God is tangible. They let God reign over their daily work, and they extend His reign through that work.
  • Many congregants have found great collective satisfaction in their longtime foreign mission commitment, and yet they have struggled to see themselves as local missionaries and their workplaces as mission fields.
  • All of life’s work is to be done as a spiritual act of worship with the ultimate aim of pleasing Christ (1 Corinthians 10:31 and Colossians 3:22-25).
  • No matter what their profession, Christ-followers can render satisfying, joyful, Christ-honoring work.

Smart People Don’t Know Their Neighbors: On Moral Proximity and Mission Matt Proctor

  • What if persons close to us were more important than our ideas and concepts, plans and proposals about being missional?
  • A definition of moral proximity: nearby individuals and institutions (both geographically and relationally) carry a weightier ethical responsibility than those individuals and institutions farther away. In short, loving thy neighbor really means your neighbor.
  • Who is near you? What are their needs? Do you know their names? If I were to ask you this question, could you answer “Who is your neighbor?”
  • Principle #1: Neighbor love starts inside the church and intentionally moves out.
  • Principle #2: Neighbor love necessitates evangelism.
  • Principle #3: Neighbor love starts where you are, right now.

How God is Using Broken Churches to Join Hands with Their Broken City for the Common Good James Risner

  • Hope4Riverside, a coalition of churches and city leaders working hand-in-hand for the common good of our city.
  • Despite our challenges, we’ve seen signs of sustainable revitalization, largely through the continual building of relationships centered on the common good.
  • Whereas a silo mentality had driven each of our churches to feel like skittish, disconnected passerby on the fringes of Riverside, now the church joined hands with the community as allies for the common good.