The Table Podcast

Whole-Life Discipleship

In this episode, Drs. Darrell L. Bock and Tom Nelson discuss faith and vocation, focusing on how connecting these contributes to whole-life discipleship.

Timecodes
00:27
Nelson and the ministry of Made to Flourish
03:38
A theology of work and stewardship
10:38
Is human flourishing a Biblical concept?
16:11
A theology of work and the Gospel
22:03
Why should we strive to do good work at our jobs?
27:46
How can pastors connect theology and work?
35:27
Why should pastors connect theology and work?
44:31
Whole-life discipleship and church ministry
Resources The Economics of Neighborly Love: Investing in Your Community's Compassion and Capacity by Tom Nelson Made to Flourish
Transcript
Darrell Bock
Welcome to the table, where we discuss issues of God and culture, and our topic today is “Faith, Work, and Economics.” Well, actually, it’s about Made to Flourish. And my guest is Tom Nelson who is pastor in Kansas City – is that right?
Tom Nelson
That’s right.
Darrell Bock
And the church is?
Tom Nelson
Christ Community Church.
Darrell Bock
Christ Community Church. But the reason he’s with us here is – well, he’s a Dallas grad, first of all, and then a D. Min. grad from TEDS. So, you tried to get credentials from everywhere, right?
Tom Nelson
You know, I want to place my bets well.
Darrell Bock
[Laughs] And then he served on the board of TEDS as well. But he runs an organization called Made to Flourish. So, that’s what we’re going to be talking about. We’re going to be talk about pastors who are committed to what we have called “whole life discipleship” and explain what that is. So, tell us a little bit about Made to Flourish. Where did it come from and how’s it structured and that kind of thing.
Tom Nelson
Yeah. Well, Darrell, it comes out of my own failure. As a pastor, I really spent a lot of my early pastoral work not really committed to whole life discipleship. I was really focused on doing Sunday well, but not helping my people do Monday well.

And out of that experience, Made to Flourish was birthed just almost four years ago to help pastors be more effective in bringing faith, work, and economic integration to their congregations and their communities. So, our hope is, as someone has said, to put a dent across the nation in helping pastors really be more faithful and fruitful in equipping people for Monday.

Darrell Bock
Okay, so, that’s interesting, ’cause I thought church was all about Sunday. So –
Tom Nelson
Many churches are.
Darrell Bock
So, let’s develop that a little bit. So, equipping people for Monday, what does that involve? And more importantly, perhaps, the pastors who you see, what kind of transitions do they have to make in order to make that happen?
Tom Nelson
Yeah, pastors often have to think through first, I’d say, a theological shift. Because if it’s going to be sustainable, and God-honoring, and fruitful, there has to be a deep robust theology that drives a pastor I trust. Right?
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Tom Nelson
‘Cause we’re people of the book.
Darrell Bock
Right.
Tom Nelson
So, it is a reexamination of the centrality of work. It’s not the only thing, but work is a very foundational theme in the Scriptures. So, it’s a reconnection with Genesis, other texts of Scripture that really say, “Hey, well, this work thing, you know, we were created with work in mind. And defining work not as simply compensation but contribution and really having a broader paradigm of what work is and how it fits into God’s redemptive story.

If we have a theological shift and a theological conviction, then there’s all kinds of tributaries of language change, praxes, and a cultural change that really helps people really honor God on Monday in profound ways.

Darrell Bock
Okay, so, let’s think about that. I mean the last time I looked at my seminary curriculum, it didn’t have a course on workology.
Tom Nelson
Workology.
Darrell Bock
[Laughs]
Tom Nelson
[Crosstalk] – do idolatry, work is –
Darrell Bock
No, no, no, no, the study of work. Right?
Darrell Bock
Yeah, yeah. And so – and another word that I think we’re slow to come to grips with that’s actually a pretty important concept in Scripture is the idea of stewardship.
Tom Nelson
Yes.
Darrell Bock
So, let’s talk – let’s lay some groundwork here theologically. Let’s talk about where does the theology of work come from, and how important is the idea of stewardship?
Tom Nelson
Yeah, they’re both, I think – really it’s beautifully said – I think they’re both very closely tied together, Darrell.
Darrell Bock
Okay.
Tom Nelson
But I do think like Booker and Movie, we have got to grasp with great depth the opening, the foundation. And the Scriptures have great coherence and continuity of the threat of work, but we’ve really got to make sure we have a good grasp of the early chapters of Genesis, which is true for all dimensions in life.
Darrell Bock
Right, right.
Tom Nelson
It’s a foundation.
Darrell Bock
Yep.
Tom Nelson
But when we begin to really carefully look at what Genesis 1 through 3 frame, we see that God presents Himself as a worker. I mean this is fascinating to me. There was like – there are many ways God could present Himself, but the opening introduction is God is a worker, right? Eugene Peterson has said – I think really said – that Genesis 1 through 2 is a journal of work.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, you should do correction, right?
Tom Nelson
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Tom Nelson
But it is something I never thought of that in my studies. It’s like Genesis 1 and 2 is really a journal of work, and I think Eugene is onto something there. So, I mean, we see God as a worker, as we know that the first emphasis is God working, and we see God working, and then we’re made in His image. And in context, the primary thrust is humans working. And I think John Kilner has done a brilliant job of capturing the sense of image-bearing or likeness, this demuth or the sense of tselem and that it’s connection reflection.

So, when we understand human anthropology in Genesis, that we are made in God’s image as image-bearers – it’s very foundational to all of our thinking – that it involves deep relational dynamics in a Trinitarian God in His image, but it also does a sense of reflection. And one of the primary ways we reflect God as image-bearers in Genesis, in the context, is imaging His work, His creativity, His culture making.

Darrell Bock
Okay, so, that’s a great start. And so, when we think about the image, one of the things that we often talk about is the way in which He’s made us male and female in that image. So, He’s made us to cooperate with one another, people who are created to be both different and complementary to one another so that they are able to work together. There’s a stewardship responsibility that comes with that. And so, there’s a lot of labor and creativity on the one hand, but there also is a – how can I say it? – an accountability.
Tom Nelson
Yeah.
Darrell Bock
The core question here I think, perhaps in thinking about this in light of our culture, is people put a lot of stock in ownership, but ownership and stewardship are not quite the same thing. So, let’s talk about the difference between those two.
Tom Nelson
Yeah, and I love your idea of stewardship, because when we think of Genesis 2:15, you have this place where Adam is put in the garden as you know – to what? – to cultivate and to keep it. So, the nurturing nature of cultivation of earth and culture – right? – as a gardner
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Tom Nelson
– but also the protection. Right? And that nurture and protection is a really great foundation of human stewardship within creation. We’re stewarding. We’re both nourishing and protecting. And it’s almost like a shepherding metaphor. Right?
Darrell Bock
Yeah, I was about to say –
Tom Nelson
So, I love that. And obviously, the sense that when you are the created vs. the Creator, the created is not the owner. Right? It’s not the one who designed it. So, I mean even the sense of Genesis 1 and 2, right away there’s the distinction between creator and the created, and that gives us our sense that we are accountable and stewards to the One who made us. So, I mean that sense of ownership – only ultimately God is owner, and the Psalms say that, right? “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.”
Darrell Bock
So, the impact of that is profound in all kinds of directions, but we’ll – I’ll leave that for now. Let’s turn our attention. So, this is the way it was designed, and then it’s the way it came to be, if I can say it that way. So, that’s obviously Genesis 3.

There’s a – the British have a great expression; it’s called “they’ve thrown a ‘spanner’ in.”

Tom Nelson
Spanner?
Darrell Bock
Yeah, which is a wrench. And so, Genesis 3 is kind of the spanner chapter of the Bible, isn’t it? I mean it’s a monkey wrench in the works.
Tom Nelson
It’s a big monkey wrench. And the way I see it is that Genesis 1 and 2 have a perfectly integral Trinitarian God with a perfect integral creation, and the crown of that is humans. Right? And Genesis 3, you have a massive disintegration of that design when sin and death enter the world; there’s massive – it’s not only a wrench, it’s massive disintegration – at whatever level depends on your theological framework at how bad it is.

But what I love most about the continuity between Genesis 1 through 3 – and this has real practical bearings – so, I think we both love to engage in rich theology, and it matters, but it does have tributaries of application to our life every day.

But what you have in a cultural mandate, in Genesis 1
28, we have a very strong idea of being fruitful, and this is the Hebrew word parah. And when you trace this idea of fruitfulness, it has two primary thrusts. One is procreativity, which is having babies, which makes sense in the marriage at the end of Genesis 2, but also productivity, and that’s really the main theme.

Moses will use it in Deuteronomy as the fruit of the womb and fruit of the land. Right?

Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Tom Nelson
The sense of – and so, what happens is, Genesis 3, right away you have the vandalization of parah because – fascinating, isn’t it? – this idea of being fruitful, being procreative and productive is – right away there’s – what? – pain in childbirth. That’s the disintegration of parah. And also, there’s thorns and thistles, which is the disintegration of parah of productivity.

So, I’m just saying, both of those have profound implications in the work we do every day and the relationships we have. Right?

Darrell Bock
Right.
Tom Nelson
Right? The pain in childbirth, there’s a pain in marriage.
Darrell Bock
Right.
Tom Nelson
There’s relational pain.
Darrell Bock
The dysfunction.
Tom Nelson
But also the work pain of thorns and thistles. So, we don’t live in the world God designed, and our work, particularly, and relationships are deeply challenging because of sin.
Darrell Bock
So, we have to work to overcome the impact of the fall, and yet, at the same time, our work is designed, at least when we pursue it well, in a way that cultivates and leads to – this is a very slow process working to the name of the organization – so that leads to flourishing.

Now, I know some people who will go, “Human flourishing. That’s an interesting concept, but where in the world do I see that in the Bible?” I mean that’s not a phrase, you know, that jumps to mind as being on the top 100 words of the Bible? So, explain to us how the idea of flourishing is a biblical concept.

Tom Nelson
Yeah, we might not have that exact word, but I think it’s, first of all, centered in the goodness of God in creation, and notice the emphasis of teaming and fruitfulness and vibrancy. This is woven through the creation narrative.
And then let’s just go to Jesus right away. We think about, when Jesus says, “The thief,” in John 10
10, “The thief come to kill, and steal, and destroy, but I have come to give you life and have it abundantly.” This idea of the abundant life, if we understand it canonically, the richness is that Christ came to redeem all of life. Right?
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Tom Nelson
And that when we align our life with Him and the goodness of what He has done in redemption, that we do flourish. Now that’s not the same thing as just material affluence.
Darrell Bock
We can be confused about the concept.
Tom Nelson
But there’s a sense to mean what does it mean to flourish in relationships? And I think Brian Fikkert and others have really helped us understand that poverty ultimately – the opposite of flourishing: impoverishment – is deeply tied to relational impoverishment, not just physical lack. Right?
Darrell Bock
‘Cause it isn’t that the creation doesn’t provide us with the resources that are able to take care of us.
Tom Nelson
Correct.
Darrell Bock
But the distribution of those resources is sometimes out of whack.
Tom Nelson
Yes, and in the inequality and –
Darrell Bock
Yes. So, we could go in a variety of directions now, and I will reign myself in. I like to tell people just because you don’t have the word doesn’t mean you don’t have the concept. And the example I like to use is actually – I’ll use it to illustrate something else – is the Cowboys are going up to the frozen tundra to melt the Cheese Heads.
Darrell Bock
So, I ask people – I ask my students, “Well, what is that sentence about?”

And they’ll respond, “Football.”

And then I have to retort, “Well, what kind of football,” ’cause it’s American football and not the football the way the world normally talks about it. And then I go, “How do you know that? That word’s not anywhere in that sentence.”

Tom Nelson
Correct, correct.
Darrell Bock
So, a concept can be elicited without a specific term tied to it. It can have a variety of descriptions and a variety of ways to present it, and then what we sometimes will do is step back and actually use a term to summarize that.
The greatest illustration of that that we have in the Scriptures is, of course, the term “Trinity.” You know? You will read through the entire Bible, from Genesis 1
1 all the way through the end of Revelation; you will hunt for the word “Trinity” and you will not find it, but you will see all kinds of concepts that talk about how the Godhead functions and operates.
Tom Nelson
And like in the Old Testament – let’s just go old because I went right way to sort of this abundance –
Darrell Bock
I know; you like the Old Testament. [Laughs]
Tom Nelson
I love the Old Testament, Doc. But I mean you think about from Torah, the foundation, you have three really powerful Hebrew words that capture God’s design and desire for human well-being. Let’s just use that language. Okay? And you have in order, in Torah, you have Shabbat, which is God resting. And rest is not passivity; it’s delight. Right?
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Tom Nelson
It’s not necessarily the lack of work, it more delight in God’s goodness and being in His provision.
Darrell Bock
And almost reflection over what’s taking place.
Tom Nelson
Yes. So, right away, you have this picture of Sabbath. Then, soon, in Genesis 5-6, you have tawm to mean this wholeness idea of blamelessness, integralness, of wholeness, and then you have shalom. So, that shalom again is a comprehensiveness, and we see that in Jeremiah 29, this sense of the shalom, the flourishing of the city. So, shalom might be one of the best comprehensive Old Testament words to capture the flourishing of relationship with God, with others, and flourishing within creation.
Darrell Bock
So, one might perhaps say that flourishing leads to shalom, and shalom is one of the goals. So, if you get to shalom, you’ve got your flourishing.
Tom Nelson
Yeah, and Christ – of course it all focuses ultimately on Jesus. That’s the glory of redemption. What we lost in the garden now we regain plus in the cross and the resurrection. So, it’s centered in Christ who allows us to flourish in great way in that peace that He brings. So, it’s very gospel centered, but it has profound nook –and-cranny implications to human life not just after we die, but at least how I read the Scriptures, that it should impact the now.
Darrell Bock
Yeah. And I think the important part of what you just raised is – and I do like to make this point – that Genesis 1 and 2 talk about life as it was designed to be, and everything that Christ does is designed to take us back to life as it was designed to be.
Tom Nelson
Yeah, maybe even gooderer – can I say that?
Darrell Bock
[Laughs] Yeah.
Tom Nelson
I mean it’s almost a sense like, in new creation, there’s continuity, but maybe it’s even an exclamation point of something later. I just don’t know. It peaks my interest.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, well, and so the point is – or a point is, and I actually think this is a way into talking about the gospel in a world that has lost its – many of its theological assumptions. You know, we were at an event last night where we were listening to Tim Keller talk about people not having the furniture to understand the Christian message, which is an interesting metaphor [crosstalk]. Actual furniture of the mind –
Darrell Bock
Yeah, exactly, exactly right.
Tom Nelson
It was great.
Darrell Bock
But – and I think that’s the point. How do you introduce the idea of the gospel in the midst of a culture that has lost its God talk, if I can say it that way?
Tom Nelson
Right, right.
Darrell Bock
And I think one of the ways to do this is for Christians to be very grounded in what it is that God did in making humanity.
Tom Nelson
Yes.
Darrell Bock
And that Genesis 1, Genesis 2 story is, “I made you to function as stewards in a garden to be creative and to be – not just creative, but also to really rule over, to manage well this creation together, male and female, in a hopefully originally considered to be cooperative manner, not a competitive manner, and function accordingly. And that’s like the lodestone that Jesus’ redemption is designed, at least in the context of this life, to take us back to.
Tom Nelson
Right, right, yeah.
Darrell Bock
And so that, if you ask why God made any person – not just Christians and et cetera, that Genesis 1 and 2 bit is the answer.
Tom Nelson
Yeah, and I love how you said that, Darrell, because it seems to me, the way I read Scripture, is that – let’s just use the word “common grace” that is centered in creation. And image-bearing, regardless of its defacement, is profoundly the fertile soil in which saving grace can take root. They are connected, and this is why Paul will say to the Galatians, “Do good to all, especially the household of faith.” Whereby Jesus talks about – right? – the rain falls on the just and the unjust. There’s a sense of profound value of every human being – or love your enemies, right?
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Tom Nelson
So, there’s a sense where if we have a rich grasp of creation, we have a rich biblical anthropology that profoundly impacts how we treat our neighbor regardless of who they are.
Darrell Bock
Exactly. And so, out of that comes all kinds of things. It just – I sometimes think that people think that salvation is just about – some people think that salvation is just about getting a ticket to heaven or – the way I like to say it when I’m in a challenging mood and speaking negatively this, I’ll go, “Salvation is not about avoiding something. Salvation is about gaining someone.”
Tom Nelson
That’s beautiful. I love the “someone.”
Darrell Bock
Yeah.
Tom Nelson
The relational [crosstalk] –
Darrell Bock
That’s right. So, you know, you reconnect to God, and in the reconnection to God, you also reconnect to the purpose of your creation, and you reconnect to the way you’re relating to others. And then, you know, justice becomes not a politically ideological term, which we’ve turned it into because of our culture, but it actually becomes a biblically rooted term that is a reflection of what it means to be made in the image of God.
Tom Nelson
Yeah, and I love that. And what I love to communicate to the folks I get to share with is the richness of salvation is clearly personal, but it s cosmic. You think about Paul and the groaning of creation in Romans. So, I often frame the sense that salvation is a glorious truth of hopefulness. It is deeply embedded in grace, but it’s salvation not only from, but salvation for and to. I mean just using some of that language, most people understand that, yes, there is saving from the perils of sin and death forever. Right? That’s not to be minimized.
Darrell Bock
But when you take that out of –
Tom Nelson
But you’re saving for –
Darrell Bock
Exactly right. You take that out of the equation, or at least you get to the point where that can be – well, maybe this is not the best word – “managed” but certainly overcome, presence of the Spirit transforming us, all of sudden the question becomes, “Well, where’s that taking us to?”
And so, when I talk about this, I’m inevitably in Ephesians 2 where I first cite the Protestant motto, just to make clear what my credentials are in 2
8 and 9 –
Tom Nelson
And you add 10.
Darrell Bock
Well, that’s the point – 10 is the point, you know, that what is this all for? You know? “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” And so, works doesn’t set up the operation, it’s the product of the operation.

And in the first – and this is the next point – the first example of the work that we are to walk in, is this picture of reconciliation that comes at the end of chapter 2.

Tom Nelson
Yeah.
Darrell Bock
So that you see the walls of hostility are gone. Jews and Gentiles are now able to relate to one another. And anyone that understands the history of Jews and Gentiles and their relationships to one another knows it’s problematic.
Tom Nelson
Yes.
Darrell Bock
[Laughs] Not exactly the smoothest relationship ever created on the earth, that kind of thing, and yet God has worked in Christ to bring peoples together who were formerly estranged. And that has relational aspects to it; it has justice relationships to it, et cetera. And then, of course, the whole rest of the book is about how to do this and how to do this at a corporate level, not just in terms of my own personal life. So, it has these cosmic dimensions, which you’ve mentioned, which pull them out and make them viable.
Tom Nelson
And so, may I just also – you know, I love that, and may I also say that sometimes if we do not have a broader canonical interpretive framework, good works can be reduced in an unbiblical way. We were created to do good works. I think about created – in Genesis we were created to till the garden. Good work is a big part of good works.
Darrell Bock
Right, right, right.
Tom Nelson
Just might people who think of good works, they heard Jesus say, “People will see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” And I’m like, “How does that relate to your Monday world? Yes, we are to care for the poor, we are to give alms to – they think about spiritual works.
Darrell Bock
Right, right.
Tom Nelson
But a big part of good works – and you know it’s the same word – is doing good work.
Darrell Bock
That’s right.
Tom Nelson
Every day. I mean that’s where sometimes there’s a disconnect that God prepared me, yes, to do good works of reconciliation, love, all the things we think about: giving, financial giving, caring for the poor, however you want to call the spiritual things. But God created me to accomplish tasks and purposes for the glory of God and the good of others before I was born. That good work – I just want people to grasp that is that I don’t want to minimize those special aspects of Christian impact because we’re Christians. But there’s a common grace aspect of good works that is a part of that good work.
Darrell Bock
And in the midst of doing that – and in the midst of doing that we image God. And part of what we image is the way in which God has cared for us. I really think at the core of work is the idea of stewardship on the one end, that’s what we’re doing, but what we’re giving is service.

And so, I’m a steward on the one hand; I have a responsibility to do my part and to till the part of the garden that I’m operating in, that kind of thing. But what I give is service. And regardless of what my role is in my work, at some point, if it’s meaningful and productive work, it is a service that is being provided. It enables people to do something that otherwise they might not be able to do.

You know, someone designed this chair, and I’m sitting in it, and I’m glad that they did a good job of the design.

Tom Nelson
Me, too.
Darrell Bock
[Laughs] Exactly right. So, you know, that’s one element. There’s an illustration that I give that I like to have fun with, and it’s let’s think about what it takes for you to have a bowl of Wheaties in the morning.
Tom Nelson
A lot of people have chosen this.
Darrell Bock
How many people. And there are lots of levels to think about it. You know, there’s the person who grows the grain. There’s what happens to the grain, processes the grain. Okay, that’s just one level. Okay? As I say, people don’t – the truck doesn’t back up to your door and just dump the grain on your front lawn.
Tom Nelson
Your neighbors wouldn’t like you.
Darrell Bock
Exactly right. “I’m gonna need to take care of my Wheaties on the front lawn.” It ends up in a box. There are the companies that do all that and make the happen. There’s all the transport that takes place. There are the people who build the roads so the transport can take place or any flying. By the time you’re all done, my analogy is it’s like the credits at the end of a movie, you know, where you’re going through all the different things. You’re aware f the actors and writers and the photographers and the director, but there are tons of other people who have been at work to make that film actually so that you can have that couple of hours of entertainment. It’s the same kind of picture.

And we take all that for granted, and every step of it, no matter what level you are working – you know, when I do this illustration, I talk about the truck drivers who haul the grain to the processing plant or whatever. You know, the roads that they’re on. And the little guy who holds the sign that says “Stop” and “Go” because they’re doing road work on the – that allows the traffic to be managed. I mean even the – it’s all service.

Tom Nelson
It is. Well I love – again, I love that thought. And one of the things that’s opened my eyes is we talk a lot about – and if we’re pastors or leaders, we talk a lot about the biblical one anothers of brotherly love, which is really important in a community as Christians.

I don’t think we’ve thought about the importance of neighborly love at that level. What I’ve tried to at least say, and it’s opened my eyes to, for example, Luke chapter 10 is an example in the book The Economics of Real Love, is to see how we need to think about what we do every day. That that person driving that box of Wheaties is really loving me as a neighbor. They really are fulfilling the great commandment.

But open our eyes and imagination to how important it is to do the great commandment in our daily work and how we love our neighbor both global and local through the global economy. So, I think it opens our eyes and hearts to the significance of what we do every day in of loving our neighbor.

Darrell Bock
And I think it’s so easy, in the midst of a job where you do that, where you’re mass producing something or whatever, to lose the personal nature of what it is that’s taking place. You know, you can feel like a wheel in a big cog and – what? – train of activity and get lost in it, but actually, you know, you are contributing something that makes something possible for lots of people every day. And if that weren’t there, there might be another company doing the same thing that you’re doing.
Tom Nelson
Sure.
Darrell Bock
But if you took that role out of our society, certain things would be missed; you might get Captain Crunch instead of Wheaties. But I just think it’s a helpful way to think about it, to personalize it. But I want to shift a little bit; I want to talk about the pastor for a second ’cause most pastors are “consumed” – I think that would be a fair word – with what happens on Sunday.
Tom Nelson
Mm-hmm.
Darrell Bock
The management of the church; the ministries of the church; you know, the message for the church, all those kinds of things. I want to give you another metaphor to just kind of think about. You look out on the pews and you see people. And so, you might think, “Well, I see a mother, I see a father, I see children,” they might think of it that way. Or, “I might have an old person, a young person,” you might think of it demographically that way.

But I’m not sure pastors think enough about what I call – have vocational eyes as they preach. You know? I’ve got the teacher, the lawyer, the doctor, the accountant, the person who works on the highways, the truck driver, whatever, that variety. I sometimes think they might be helped by having that lens.

Tom Nelson
I think they would, too. But that’s a shift of our thinking. I mean as pastors we are focused on Sunday. And as I said, Sunday does matter. We need to do a good work with the gathered church; that’s a part of our stewardship. But our Sundays changed when our heart and mind is on Monday. You know, in Ephesians, we talk about equipping the saints for the work of service. I like your word “service” not ministry.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Tom Nelson
And so, our equipping is to equip them when we gather on a Sunday – if it’s a Sunday – to equip them not to do well on Sunday, or to be good Sunday Christians; it’s a equip them well as a teacher on Monday, the majority of their life. I’ve used this language before, but my shift, my aha came several years ago when I realized – and I’ve used the word “malpractice.” Maybe that’s provocative, but that’s how I believed I was. It wasn’t intentional, but I was spending the majority of my time –
Darrell Bock
It was sub-practice.
Tom Nelson
Sub-practice.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, [laughs].
Tom Nelson
I spent the majority of my time equipping people for the smallest minority of their life, and part of my problem was I was vocationally and institutionally isolated from my people. So, I had to get out – not only have a more rich theology that guided my praxes and my paradigm, but I had to get out with my people and understand their Monday world. And when I began to make workplace visits; I began to listen, ask questions, Sunday began to change. And so, I preached the languages –
Darrell Bock
And most pastors who I talk to, when we’re talking about this, and they’re in the kind of the traditional church mode, will say to me things like, “Well, I don’t understand that world,” or, “That world – I feel awkward walking into that world.” There’s lots of ways that they describe it, but it’s this discomfort of they recognize that what they do and the way that they live and what it takes for them to do their life’s work is something very different than what the average person goes through in an average job.

And it’s like there’s this chasm between what the pastor’s doing and what – if I can say it this way – the bulk of his congregation is doing during the week. And then the question becomes, “All right, so, who’s gonna build the bridge to walk across that chasm, and who’s gonna take the initiative to walk across that chasm? And how in the world will the pastor and the person in the pew connect in such a way that their – that the preaching and teaching connects to the world where the bulk of the people are living?”

Tom Nelson
This is a big challenge, and Made to Flourish, we’re trying to help that. But I’ve seen it different ways. I’ve actually seen congregational members – or we call them “laity” – I don’t use that word very much –
Darrell Bock
Yeah, I don’t either.
Tom Nelson
– who have actually initiated – they’ve taken their pastor to work. I mean they’ve initiated like pastor comes to meeting.
Darrell Bock
So, take your pastor to the work. Right? Don’t take him to the shed, take him to the work.
Tom Nelson
Like help him understand – take the initiative and say, this is my world. And a lot of pastors increasingly around the country are also taking initiative with their parishioners to say, “Could I visit with you in your workplace?” Or, “If I can’t be at the workplace for security or some reason, let’s meet a Star Bucks nearby, and I want to learn about your world.”

So, part of it’s our need for humility, Darrell – I mean those of us who are pastors – because we’re experts on Sunday. We should be, right? We’re in theology and whatever, but it’s a wonderful reversal of roles and the priesthood of believers.

Darrell Bock
That’s right.
Tom Nelson
And a lot of love when we enter into another world and we’re the learners.
Darrell Bock
So, I think the point of what we’re talking about here is that if we’re going to talk about blame, what causes this? It’s actually a two-way street. On the one hand, although I do think the pastor has a little bit of responsibility in this sense, the pastor is responsible for the overall spiritual well-being of his parishioners. That’s what shepherding is.
Tom Nelson
Right.
Darrell Bock
So, to the extent that there’s neglect of where the parishioner is, there is pastoral neglect. This is what you were defining as malpractice; we said it might be sub-practice. You might you are ministering in this little space right here, and it was all this other stuff going on.
Tom Nelson
That I was thinking about, yeah.
Darrell Bock
And so, but on the other hand, the person who’s in the pew, who needs the help, needs to be able to spur on one another to love and good deeds and send a signal back saying, “This isn’t helping me in the place where I’m living, and I need to help take the initiative in being able to do that.

When that happens, of course, then there are very good things taking place, and part of what we have talked about consistently in the faith, work, and economics discussions that we’ve had has been the opening up of this channel. I think maybe the image to use is think of it as a clogged artery.

Tom Nelson
Yeah, you just entered; it’s something that –
Darrell Bock
Exactly right, to open it up.
Darrell Bock
And in the midst of that exchange, get a free flow of blood and oxygen and well-being to the person and to the church. And so, when Monday comes around, Monday is not an afterthought in what’s going on in the service; it’s actually part of the point.
Tom Nelson
It is, and I would say that as pastors – I’m a pastor – so, if you’re a pastor this morning or today in this conversation, I do think we need to take the initiative. I have across the country congregational members will come to me and say, “I love my pastor, but they don’t understand my world. How do I help them understand my world? I love them; I’m committed to them.”

And I say, “Well, do your best.”

But I want to talk to the pastors for a minute, because I think we need to take the initiative to understand their world. And there is a clogged artery; we need to take the initiative because there’s so much at stake, Darrell. If we are not equipping people as disciples of Jesus in the majority of their life, if the gospel is not speaking into their main part of their life, we really are not equipping them.

Darrell Bock
Not only that, we’re reinforcing something that undercuts good discipleship, which is a sacred, secular divide which says, “This part of your life is holy, and this part of your life is something else,” whatever that is, and then that space gets filled with all kinds of –
Tom Nelson
Junk.
Darrell Bock
Yes. [Laughs]
Tom Nelson
And I don’t think we grasp, many of us – I’ll say, as a pastor, for many years I didn’t grasp what was at stake. And I might suggest there’s at least five things at stake if we are not equipping people for Monday, if we’re not really focused on their world, if we’re more concerned how well we do on Sunday than how well our people do on Monday. That’s a really important question for all of us. I mean to be really honest – right? – our time, our talent, our treasures, our prayers, our mission.
Darrell Bock
Right.
Tom Nelson
But I think there are five things, quickly, that are at stake that animate me and Made to Flourish and why we exist to help pastors be more effective, God-honoring, and discipling their parishioners.

First of all, the worship of God’s at stake, ’cause many people think that what they do on Sunday is worship, and what they do on Monday’s work, and there’s not a connection. And biblically, when we go back to Genesis is what I’ll do now, but there’s a seamlessness of work and worship in God’s design. We don’t worship our work, but work is a big part of our worship. But the worship of God is not only right, but also the spiritual formation of God’s people. If we don’t equip them to be spiritually formed, empowered by the Spirit, practicing the presence of God in their Monday life, then they’re not being spiritually formed in the majority of their life.

Darrell Bock
That’s right.
Tom Nelson
And we should all care about that.
Darrell Bock
That’s right.
Tom Nelson
But then also the gospel’s at stake. Gospel incarnation firstly, how we live the gospel, ’cause the gospel often needs to be seen before its heard, but also gospel proclamation. The greatest mission field of the gospel is not Sunday morning in a congregational church, it is in the Monday workplace where God’s people are set.
Darrell Bock
I’m gonna come back to that point down the road. Keep going.
Tom Nelson
Okay, I’m just saying, we should care about the gospel and gospel proclamation, but the vast majority of places where people are really going to hear the gospel is not me preaching on Sunday morning. I mean I wish that was true in one way, but it’s how God designed us to be the sent church.

And the last thing is the common good’s at stake. So, I mean at least those five – there could be more –are so at stake if we have a Sunday to Monday gap – and transparently, in my experience and across the country that I think the greatest Sunday to Monday gap, and I’m sad to say this and it’s been true in my history, is not so much people sitting in the pew or on the chair, they have a dissonance like – the gospel should really be speaking into this; I’m not sure how – but the greatest gap of Sunday to Monday I think is in the pulpits. I think it’s many of us.

Darrell Bock
Yeah. And here’s the irony in this, because another issue that we often discuss is okay, so you present this, and what prevents churches from going there? M-kay?
Tom Nelson
Okay.
Darrell Bock
And what prevents churches from going there oftentimes is this sense of, “Well, if I push people to be engaged in this way on the outside, who’s actually going to help with the ministries of the church that it needs in order to function on the inside. And they see this as kind of a competition.
Tom Nelson
Sure.
Darrell Bock
And so, given the choice between the – as they see it – the life and vitality of their congregation vs. the sending out of these human resources, if I can say it that way, they choose the congregation and stay focused on the internal ministry.

But the irony of it I think is that God has actually designed an evangelistic program for the church –

Tom Nelson
Imagine that.
Darrell Bock
– and that program is the going. You know?
Tom Nelson
In a global marketplace where the world is all together.
Darrell Bock
And when you image God and not just talk about Him – m-kay? – and this is very important – when you image God and don’t just talk about Him, and you do it in the workplace, through your people who are equipped, all of a sudden there’s the building of relations there with people who have no connection to the church who then become interested in what the church is about.

And all of a sudden this – you know, we’ve gone through – I mean I don’t know how many evangelistic programs I’ve been through in my lifetime in exposure to the church; there’s been an array of them. Meanwhile, the most obvious evangelistic program that the church could possibly have has been right in front of us the whole time by the design of the way God does it.

Tom Nelson
And what is also amazing to me – and I’m not a historian – but what’s amazing, when I look out on the congregation that I serve and the many vocations there, like you said –
Darrell Bock
That’s right.
Tom Nelson
– I mean in a global information economic world, the people that I try to serve and equip are interacting with neighbors in India as well as next door –
Darrell Bock
That’s right.
Tom Nelson
– that week. I mean can you imagine, in the history of the world, where the people in our congregations are touching people in the globe through global business. It’s amazing.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, my line is is that one of the ways in which our world has changed significantly in the last century is that the world has gotten simultaneously bigger and smaller. There are more people, but we are also in tighter communication with one another. We’re much more aware of who other people are.
Tom Nelson
Yeah.
Darrell Bock
I mean it used to be, in the history of people, that they lived in a 50-mile radius, and that was all that they knew and had contact with. Those days are exceptional now. And I have a brother who lives within a five-mile radius. We joke about it. I do all the travel he should also be doing.

But for most people now, their contacts are all over the place. Their relationships are all over the place. They’re running into people whose backgrounds are very different from their own, and it is their work oftentimes that has taken them there.

Tom Nelson
It’s one of the central intersections of modern life. I mean that’s – and that’s what’s so amazing from a missional standpoint or a mission. The world is our parish in one sense. And our people – God’s people that we’re equipping – are deeply involved in a world parish now with all kinds of people who won’t step inside the church – at least yet. But they’re ambassadors, and how do we equip them in their Monday worlds to not only live the gospel but to share the gospel to a neighbor in the city and the neighbor across the globe? It’s an amazing mission opportunity.
Darrell Bock
When I live that out, and I live that out in a way that is distinctive without being braggadocios, or ornery, or hostile – go through your levels of possibility here – I just live it out what James Hunter has called “faithful presence.” When I live it out, and a difference stands out, some people pause, see it, and go, “What makes you tick? How are you – why are you treating me that way? Why are you doing that? That’s not the way I’m normally treated?”
Tom Nelson
So, let me give you just one little snippet.
Darrell Bock
Okay.
Tom Nelson
‘Cause just this morning early, I was looking at some of my e-mails, and Sunday, recently, our teaching team is going through Genesis. So, I had the joy, on the campus I serve, to unpack some of the work themes in Genesis 1 and 2.

So, I get an e-mail back from one of our parishioners, and I’ll use the name Sue – it’s not her real name but – and it’s a short e-mail, and she sends me a picture, and example of how transformational this is when we begin to teach what God’s Word teaches and begin to live it.

And she shows me a picture. She and her husband lead this – this is amazing – this gourmet cookie company. Right?

Darrell Bock
Okay.
Tom Nelson
That’s her Monday world. She’s got a business, employees, and she’s making the world sweeter.
Darrell Bock
I like chocolate chips. I like chocolate chips on Mondays; I’m for it.
Tom Nelson
She’s the cookie lady.
Darrell Bock
Okay, all right, all right.
Tom Nelson
That sweet –
Darrell Bock
Yeah.
Tom Nelson
She’s loving her neighbor – boom. Anyway, she sends me a picture, and on it she’s gathered her employees around this bowl of – or this plate of cookies. And she has a big sign, “Yay, it’s Monday.”

Now, you think about her teaching and equipping. She’s understanding yes, Sunday matters, and it’s important for her to be there Sunday, but she’s connecting Sunday to Monday. And so, her theology and her gospel understanding in her life as an employer – she’s not saying, “Hey, Christian,” she’s saying, “Yay, it’s Monday.”

It’s an energy for their company, but where does she get that? She understands, thanks God it’s Monday. She’s bringing and translating that biblical framework, without being biblical, and people are celebrating Monday. What a shift vs. celebrating Friday for a company.

Darrell Bock
Right, exactly.
Tom Nelson
But I mean she’s taking that from Sunday. And she sent me a picture, and I go, “Yay, Sue, awesome. Yay, it’s Monday.” But I mean that’s the shift.
Darrell Bock
Exactly. And so – and that’s why we call it “whole life discipleship,” because it really is dealing with – I have a little fun here – it’s dealing with the “holes” in life that get filled when you think about the “whole” week.
Tom Nelson
Right.
Darrell Bock
And in the midst of that, you all of a sudden realize that if I’m really equipping people for what it is they’re going to be doing. That space from 9:00 to 5:00 needs to be filled. The illustrations that I use in the pulpit need to be, at least on occasion, 9:00 to 5:00 illustrations, and they need to be more – it needs to be about more than simply, you know, “How do you share Christ at your work?”
Tom Nelson
Right.
Darrell Bock
It’s got to be things like, “How do you do your work? How do you view your work? How do you sense the purpose of God and what He’s called you to do and to be?”
Tom Nelson
Yeah. And can I go back to one thing you raised earlier?
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Tom Nelson
‘Cause I hear this a lot. I was with a denominational executive team not long ago, and we were talking about whole life discipleship. And it’s a large denomination, and as we talked about it theologically, they said, “This is exactly what we need to be doing; this is our big issue.”

And then another person said, “We also have the biggest challenge.” And that is exactly what you were talking about is that on the ground, in churches in this denomination, there is this residual fear that if we’re really equipping people and focusing on their scattered sent world, that volunteerism in the church is gonna dry up.

So, let me address that briefly, ’cause there’s a couple of things. All right, that’s very real, and we need – I use the word “family chores.”

Darrell Bock
See, I use the word “schizophrenic.” We need to be schizophrenic about how we view church, yeah.
Tom Nelson
What I’m saying, if – first of all, I think that’s real, but I think that’s a zero sum game; it’s missing God’s abundance. But a couple of things that I’ve learned in my own parish, and it’s a larger church context now, is that when we communicate we are a family – this is a family metaphor – I use, “There are family chores.” Not negative, but I mean there’s things we do to help each other to be a family.
Darrell Bock
Right.
Tom Nelson
And with that metaphor, I find people finding their place of being part of the family. It might be in their giving, serving, nursery. But I find that really helpful. But the bottom line is to trust God with those people who will do nursery and youth ministry; that’s important.
Darrell Bock
That’s right.
Tom Nelson
But it really is a theological issue and a missional issue.
Darrell Bock
Yes.
Tom Nelson
I mean I would rather have fewer volunteers – and I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen if you’re faithful – and be more faithful to our discipleship mission. Right? ‘Cause that’s the other idea. What happens if we don’t? We are not fulfilling our equipping mission.
Darrell Bock
Well, we shouldn’t see them in competition with one another, and my phrase is “schizophrenic,” and what I mean by that is is that if you understand the body and the way it works, there are some people dedicated to some tasks, and there are other people dedicated to other tasks, and we all don’t need to be doing the same thing.

So, if I understand, God’s going to call some people to be more heavily engaged on the outside of the church. God is going to call other people to be more engaged on the inside of the church, and we all need to appreciate one another. We need to appreciate that array of callings, and we need to reinforce it, and we need to emphasize that because in our tendency to want to homogenize all our experience and make everybody try and do and be the same, we actually cut ourselves off from the dynamic and variety that allows the church to, you know, to have those tentacles, or whatever picture you want to use, out into the world.

Tom Nelson
And there’s probably seasons of life.
Darrell Bock
Exactly.
Tom Nelson
You know, sometimes we have retirees, if you want to use that language, that have more time and service within the walls.
Darrell Bock
Right.
Tom Nelson
As well as in the community. But I find seasons of life. A young, stay-at-home mom, how much time does she have – or a stay-at-home spouse – for that kind of service?
Darrell Bock
Her ministry right now is to her kids.
Tom Nelson
Yeah. It’s like – yeah.
Darrell Bock
Absolutely. Well, we’ve covered an array of stuff, but I think the important messages coming across here is that when you think about – when you think about faith and work, you’re actually thinking about life. And when you take work out of faith, you’ve truncated life, and a truncated discipleship is not what the Bible calls us to.
Tom Nelson
That’s right, and that is where I would say a tendency is malpractice or sub-practice. So, I just want to encourage us – all of us who are called to serve the bride in a paid way or a service to think about our focus of integrating faith, work, and economic wisdom as it relates to whole life discipleship. And that’s what Made to Flourish we’re trying to do across the country is help pastors do that and churches be more fruitful and effective.
Darrell Bock
Well, we’re really excited about Made to Flourish. We’re obviously excited about this idea of whole life discipleship and the turn that it can represent for the church. I think it’s an important, crucial turn in a society that has lost its “furniture for God” talk if we can use that metaphor. In the process, the living out of what the presence of the gospel means for a different way of life become the words that we use, that set up the words we may be able to use later as a result.
Tom Nelson
Yeah. And I remind the congregation that I serve that is yes, we’re to be bold with our words. We never should lose the importance of proclamation. But I think, increasingly, people need to see the gospel because they lack the habitual furniture of the mind. Right? They need to see the gospel and see its plausibility and goodness lived out.
Darrell Bock
And its beauty.
Tom Nelson
And its beauty – love that. And as they do, then the words have connection and meaning.
Darrell Bock
And resonance, yep, exactly.
Tom Nelson
That’s our hope, right?
Darrell Bock
That’s right, and so, we’re made to flourish.
Tom Nelson
We are made to flourish.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, thanks, Tom, for coming to chat with us.
Tom Nelson
Delighted to be with you, Darrell.
Darrell Bock
And we thank you for joining us on the table. We hope you will join us again soon. If you have a topic that you would like us to consider for a future episode, please e-mail us at thetable@dts.edu. We’ll take it under consideration and hopefully be able to address it. And again, we thank you for being a part of the table and hope you’ll join us again soon.
Read More
Darrell L. Bock
Dr. Bock is senior research professor of New Testament and executive director for cultural engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored or edited more than forty books, including Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels, Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study, Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods, Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King, Who Is Jesus?: Linking the Historical Jesus with the Christ of Faith, and Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence.
Tom Nelson
Dr. Tom Nelson is president of Made to Flourish. He is also the senior pastor of Christ Community Church in Kansas City. He has served on the Board of Regents of Trinity International University and is on the leadership team of the Oikonomia Network.
Diversity
Nov 12, 2019
Gary BarnesGary BarnesTim YoderTim YoderDarrell L. BockDarrell L. Bock
Navigating Transgender Issues In this episode Drs. Darrell Bock, Gary Barnes and Tim Yoder continue thier discussion on gender dysphoria, specifically focusing on how to understand and minister to people who...
Diversity
Nov 5, 2019
Gary BarnesGary BarnesTim YoderTim YoderDarrell L. BockDarrell L. Bock
Understanding Gender Dysphoria In this episode, Drs. Darrell L. Bock, Timothy Yoder, and Gary Barnes discuss understanding gender dysphoria.