Course Modules in Theology - More Ideas for Assignments on Work
Here are more sample assignments to help inspire fresh thinking about how to incorporate a concern for vocation, flourishing and economic justice in a seminary course on Theology.
Explore The Theology of Work Over Time
Ask students to write a short paper explaining the theological development of one of the following ideas (throughout church history, in a specific era or tradition, in the writings of a specific theologian, etc.). Even better, ask them to turn their findings into a lesson plan to teach about this concept with their congregation.
- Poverty (material and spiritual)
- Creation in the image of God
- Economic justice
Some suggested books to use as resources are in the Economic Wisdom Project document. Other bibliographies are here:
- From Greg Forster of the Oikonomia Network.
- From Gordon-Conwell’s Mockler Center.
- From Jeffrey Greenman.
- From the Theology of Work Project.
- From an article on faith and work bibliographies on the Patheos Faith and Work Channel.
Work and Doctrine
Ask students to write an essay addressing the following questions:
- What are some key Christian doctrines that should have priority in a theology of work, and what do these doctrines contribute to a theology of work? Any doctrines could be fair game, but particularly good places to start might be the Trinity, the image of God, sin, the Incarnation, ecclesiology and eschatology.
- What parts of the human experience and the Christian response to it should a theology of work explain? Examples include the place of work in life, whether we are designed to work, how we are called to work, the role of work in discipleship, our role in the economy, etc.
Some book resources dealing specifically with the theology of work can be found here.
A related assignment would be to base a similar essay based on whatever readings are already assigned for a particular course, by asking what theology of work is present in those readings and authors.
Do We Need a Theology of Management?
Have students respond to this article by Benjamin Norquist: “Proposal for a Theology of Management.”
- Is Norquist correct in thinking we need a theology of management as well as a theology of work? If so, what additional evidence do you see for this point? If not, why not?
- Where would you start in building such a theology? What doctrines could serve as starting points? (the imago Dei, original sin, and the Incarnation are three possible ones, but should not be construed as the only possibilities). What do you have to say to the managers in your own congregation?
Creeds and Work
Have students take a statement from either the Nicene or Apostles’ Creed and link it to a current news or human interest article that centers on problems and issues related to the world of vocation, work and economics, individually and/or socially. Have them explain their choices and discuss what they learned in applying the creed so specifically to work.
Here are some possible examples:
“I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth”
“[I believe in] the resurrection of the body”
Article: Why We Need a New Theology of Work
“For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven”
“We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son”
Theology by Video
Ask students to watch an episode of the Jesus and Your Job series by Sean McDonough at the Theology of Work Project and answer the following questions:
- What theological point related to work is addressed?
- How are the Scriptures used to explain and illustrate this point?
- What other Scriptural passages might illustrate this point?
- How does the Scripture relate to the lives of the workplace Christians interviewed?
- Bonus assignment: write a set of study questions for your congregation about the chosen video.