In his essay, Mr. Jethani quotes from a new book by David Kinnamen, president of The Barna Group, entitled, You Lost Me: Why Young People Are Leaving Church…And Rethinking Faith:
For me, frankly, the most heartbreaking aspect of our findings is the utter lack of clarity that many young people have regarding what God is asking them to do with their lives. It is a modern tragedy. Despite years of church-based experiences and countless hours of Bible-centered teaching, millions of next-generation Christians have no idea that their faith connects to their life’s work. They have access to information, ideas, and people from around the world, but no clear vision for a life of meaning that makes sense of all that input.
Mr. Jethani follows the quote (You Lost Me, page 207) with a reflection of his own:
If Church365 is going to be intentional about engaging all 8 elements of the culture, then it must find a way of linking vocation and discipleship–the maturing of a follower of Christ with Christ’s particular call for that person. In other words, if a 20-year-old is called to a career in the financial markets, her curriculum for discipleship must focus on how to be a financial analyst with Christ. A cookie-cutter, off the shelf discipleship program isn’t going to cut it. (emphasis is original)
Mr. Jethani identifies a problem and proposes a tentative solution as if the problem were one of the modern age to which previous generations never gave any thought. Indeed, Mr. Kinnamen admits that a theology of vocation waits to be re-discovered. Re-discovery suggests that the solution already exists, but it’s in the attic, stuffed into a dusty old trunk, waiting patiently for us to pull it out and try it on.
Mr. Jethani’s thesis is extremely important, but his statement of the problem does not go far enough. We need a theology, not just of vocation, but of life. This might seem like an odd statement for a Christian to be making, considering that we use phrases like “Christian life” and “Jesus came to give us life and life abundantly.” Generally speaking, what we mean by the word life in these instances is really religious life, not our everyday, mundane life of changing diapers and raking leaves. What is needed is a theology that links all of life to God: eating and sleeping, gardening and baking, hobbies and work. The sacred/secular dichotomy has so successfully separated our everyday life from our religious life, that the connection between the two is tenuous, if not absent altogether. God has little or nothing to do with baking bread or driving to work, reading a novel or speaking at a committee meeting, mowing the lawn or shopping for food. If God is functionally absent from the routines of our lives, is it any wonder, then, if we lack a theology of vocation, too?
So, tell me, in what ways does God have an explicit role in your job? Why is your work important to God? Whatever your answer, it must be competent to elevate the importance of what you do, day-in and day-out, to the same level as planting churches among unreached people groups.