The Fulton Street Prayer Meetings
and the Revival of 1857/58:
The Workplace Connection
A powerful revival occurred in 1857 and 1858. Sometimes known as the
“Businessmen’s Revival” by its contemporaries, a distinctive aspect of the revival was the extraordinary popularity of noon prayer meetings organized and led by business people. These meetings built on the pattern established by the Fulton Street Prayer Meetings.
There are important lessons that can be drawn from this success of this movement and the manner in which the prayer meetings were organized.
This is an updated version of an earlier article.read more
Introducing Our New Small Group Guide
The Transforming Work: Spiritual Renewal in Our Work Lives study guide can help you think about the serious work issues you face and how your own faith or spirituality might help. It is designed for people who take their work seriously and would like their faith or spirituality to be an important resource that informs and supports them in their daily work. The guide can be used in small groups and for individual study.
The guide contains 12 sessions, each directed at a practical work issue. Each session includes an opportunity for prayer, a passage of scripture that might offer a new point of view on a serious work issue, commentary and questions designed to encourage reflection and discussion, and suggestions for the coming workweek. The appendix includes advice for new groups and new group leaders.read more
Writing in the Harvard Business Review Online (The Busier You Are, the More You Need Silence), Justin Talbot-Zorn and Leigh Marz lay out the arguments for why busy people need more quiet time.
According to the authors, research shows that “taking the time for silence restores the nervous system, helps sustain energy, and conditions our minds to be more adaptive and responsive to the complex environments in which so many of us live, work and lead.” They provide selected references from both neuroscience and psychology.
They make a number of concrete recommendations involving ways to build more quiet time into our busy lives. These range from five minutes of meditation and reflection during the work day to longer quiet periods such as an afternoon spent in nature or a weekend meditation retreat.
In this article, Talbot-Zorn and Marz focus exclusively on the secular benefits of intentional silence, not the religious and spiritual. This is understandable given that they are writing for a general business audience; I might do the same.
But I think this exclusively secular approach leaves out an important aspect of intentional silence — the spiritual experience it sometimes evokes. . .read more
The story of the wise men – – also known as the Magi – – is one of the great stories of the Bible. The late James Dittes of Yale saw in the story a battle between two conflicting aspects of our human nature, a drive for stability and control, and a drive to forsake stability and control in order to pursue a quest for the sacred. In the story, the desire for stability and control is represented by Herod and the quest for the sacred is represented by the wise men.
Both are necessary and contribute to human flourishing.
The drive for stability, in its uncorrupted form, is important to us. It provides the foundation for the coherence that helps us make sense of daily life. It enables us to make decisions regarding our work, our family, and other areas of our lives. Too much turmoil makes it almost impossible to make clear decisions and to build effectively for the future.
But the quest is important too. What I am calling the quest has to do with our search for the sacred, for transcendence, for meaning. We can think of the quest as the natural outgrowth of the intuitive human desire to connect with something deeper than ourselves – to experience a deeper sense of connection with God. It is as though over the course of our lives we are being drawn to God.
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What might spiritual renewal mean? In this episode we explore what spiritual renewal could mean for our work life. Maybe it would lead to working with greater purpose, compassion, and equanimity, and help us develop a higher level of collaboration and teamwork. We also discuss how our faith and spirituality might help us find spiritual renewal.
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Scholar and sociologist Nancy Ammerman has spent a great deal of time studying what she has termed “lived religion”, the “embodied and enacted forms of spirituality that occur in everyday life”, including the workplace. She includes beliefs and religious in lived religion, but goes well beyond these to include everyday practice. Ammerman found that religion and spirituality helped individuals find meaning throughout their daily lives:
“Looked at from one angle, what we found in stories of everyday life was that individuals were cultivating a religious consciousness and weaving a layer of spirituality into the fabric of their individual lives, a warp and woof that extend far beyond the institutional domain designated as ‘religious’.”
Please let us know if you are interested in hosting or attending one of a series of retreats we call Spiritual Practices for Your Work Life. It has been a couple of years since our last series, and we are putting together a new version.
In these retreats we expose the participants to a number of spiritual practices that can help them in their work life. We also provide some time for small group discussion and individual reflection, and in general help people see how their faith and spirituality can inform and support their daily work.read more
Different spheres of life have different grammars. By this I mean that not only do we use different words in different spheres, but that the logical rules and structural relationships between the words can be quite different as well. This can create a problem when we are trying to connect our faith and our work — two domains with two different sets of grammar. This is especially true when the differences are unconscious.
Compare the grammar of business with that of the “typical” church.read more
Workplace chaplaincy services are receiving increased attention and appear to be a growing phenomena. An article by Cheryl Hall in the Dallas Morning News (November 25, 2014) reports on the firm Marketplace Ministries, Inc., and its founder Gil Stricklin.
Hall reports that Marketplace Ministries hires chaplains and provides services to businesses and other organizations for a fee. The chaplains provide a variety of services, all at the option and initiation of the employee. These can include counseling, providing a sympathetic ear, and helping the employee find resources for dealing with personal and family problems. Spirituality can be involved — but only at the invitation of the employee.
Recommended: The current issue (October, 2014) of Leadership Journal (subscription required) has an interview with Lou Huesmann, senior pastor at Grace Brethren Long Beach. In it he talks about how his view of pastoral ministry has changed over the years, and...read more