Small Group Curriculum

Small Group Guide Cover

Preview Small Group Discussion Guide

Transforming Work: Spiritual Renewal for Your Work Life is now available as a preview. Our small group discussion guide is designed to help people connect their faith or spirituality and their work, and to help them find ways to deal with work related issues. Each session includes a passage of scripture, a short commentary, and questions for discussion.

While it is formatted for use by small groups, it can also be used for individual study and reflection.

Our plan is to offer it for free as a digital download for thirty days and then, after receiving your feedback, offer it for sale on Amazon. Please send us an email at info@faithandenterprise.org and we will be happy to send you a link.

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Societal Complexity and Human Well Being

Abstract image of complexityThree weeks ago I had the pleasure of hearing psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi speak at the Western Positive Psychology Association conference. Csikszentmihalyi is one of the founders of positive psychology (with Martin Seligman) and is well known and highly regarded for having developed the concept of flow.

Csikszentmihalyi provided a preview of a paper on which he and Daniel Gruner are working called (as of now) Complexity: Towards a New Measure of Societal Well Being. He presented data that showed a correlation between societal complexity and various measures of societal well being.

The topic surprised me. Before hearing the talk, I probably would have been more inclined to associate well being with simplicity rather than with complexity. When I think of societal complexity, I think of burdensome policies and procedures and a regulatory system creating complex rules faster than they can be understood. But Csikszentmihalyi and Gruner mean something quite different.

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Bad Seeds (Meant Literally)

Photo of Uganda farmerThis month’s Reason Magazine (March, 2017) has a very interesting article by Francisco Toro on the bad seeds of Uganda. He means bad seeds literally – – seeds that do not germinate when planted.

I have a special interest in what Toro has to say about this because I have been involved in a small way in several small agribusiness ventures in Uganda. I can vouch for what he is saying – – the bad seed problem is real and awful. Farmers can buy apparently good, certified seeds, and then have very small crops because a high proportion of the seeds do not germinate.

The fundamental problem is counterfeit seed. . .

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A Theology of Entrepreneurship

theology of entrepreneurship lgThe Entrepreneurial Calling: Perspectives from Rahner by the late William J. Toth of Seton Hall is an extraordinary theological reflection on the entrepreneurial vocation and the deeper significance of the entrepreneur’s hope, risk, and service to others. A central concept for Toth was that of “providential love.”  This concept combines the idea of looking forward and anticipating the future with a desire to create something of value for others. The entrepreneur intends to create part of the future, but at the same time recognizes that success or failure will be determined by others who are free to accept or reject the offer made by the entrepreneur.

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Business as a Creative, Value Producing Process

business as creative processMost people work in the private sector, and specifically for a business enterprise of some sort. When we think about workplace renewal, we should consider issues pertaining to work within business enterprises. To be clear, when we speak of business we mean the creative process that is for the purpose of producing and delivering products and services that can be profitably exchanged with others in the marketplace.  This is quite different from, for example, using political or family influence with governments to control resources and capture subsidies, or using social coercion to maintain a privileged economic position.

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Do We Really Want to Integrate Our Faith and Our Work?

Underlying much of the “faith and work” movement and many of the books on the subject is the assumption that religious people want to connect their faith and their work.  In a recent presentation to the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, Rice University sociologist Brandon Vaidyanathan questioned this assumption and made some very interesting observations based on his research.During his presentation, he raised the provocative issue that perhaps people usually see faith and work as two competing spheres with separate devotions and would actually prefer to keep them separate.

I think he is on to something important, but I think the problem is not so much that there is a necessary conflict between faith and work, but rather how we understand (or misunderstand) the nature of one or the other or perhaps both.

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Conflicting Grammars of Life

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.

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Serious Business: Why It Matters (Article by Tony Mulkern)

Tony Mulkern PhotoWe are pleased to offer on our Work as a Calling page (link) an article (link) by CFE friend Tony Mulkern on the value of business and business vocations. (Serious Business: Why It Matters).  Tony summarizes some of the arguments made by Michael Novak during his CFE sponsored speaking tour a few years ago, and then concludes with his own advise to business owners:

“When you wonder if it is all worth it, remember that you are a symbol, an example, and one of the drivers of a free people freely creating wealth, a society, and a world in which all can pursue their dreams, consistent with the freedom of others.”

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