Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bridging Sunday and Monday: Making Faith Really Matter in Business: Seattle Pacific University

This is from an online brochure of the Christian Business Faculty Association:
Over the past two decades the Christian community has seen an explosion of activity around the subject of the “ministry of our daily work.” The growing number of books on this subject is one piece of evidence. Pete Hammond (with Paul Stevens and Todd Svanoe) published an Annotated Bibliography in 2002, and maintains an exploding database of books and other publications on the subject. The Marketplace Ministry report from the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelism conference in 2004 demonstrates the international nature of this activity. Marketplace ministries have “sprung up” in cities around the world. It appears that God is truly at work stirring passions and insight regarding the wholeness of the gospel and the destruction of the “sacred/secular” divide. Theology of Work is even finding its way into a few seminaries.
From this foundation, we seek to go deeper. If God cares about our daily work, does he also care about its institutions: government, education, the medical field, and business? And if so, what do the Scriptures have to say about how this work should be conducted? And if Christians can grasp what the Bible is saying about this work, does this insight translate to a secular world where the authority of the Scriptures is not recognized?

For those of us in business, the development of faith and work integration provides the foundation for developing a biblical view of business. At the School of Business and Economics at Seattle Pacific University, we started this discussion in earnest in 2002. The result was a paper published in 2004 on our view of the biblical purpose of business, [Van Duzer, et. al.].
Using biblical language, the paper demonstrated that God cares about the institution of business and has called people to that field to carry out his work in this world. The fundamental conclusion of that paper was that the purpose of business is to serve. Two vital ways that businesses serve are to distribute goods and services that are needed in the world, and to provide meaningful work enabling people to respond to God’s call for them to work. This is a vastly different conclusion than Milton Friedman drew, and many people accept today, that the purpose of business is to maximize the shareholder value subject to the constraints of the law and ethical norms.

We also believe that when something is true, it is true even for those who don’t recognize biblical authority. We have found that our conclusion about the purpose of business can be discussed using different arguments for audiences who don’t look to biblical authority for answers, such as Rotary, universities, and general business groups. Since most ethical problems in business over the past decade have come from greed rooted in the bottom line, these ideas on purpose offer hope through another way of thinking about business.

Now the question is this: can we go another step deeper? If biblical insight can help us understand the purpose of business, can it also help us understand the practice of business? Can we look at areas of business such as leadership, organizational culture, marketing, finance, human resources, and corporate social responsibility and gain biblical insight about them? And if the answer is yes, can we take this insight another step further to develop business theories that can be communicated in a secular language, offering insight to business leaders for all sizes of businesses, from all cultures, and all types of industry.

That is what the conference “Bridging Sunday and Monday” is all about. We put out a Call for
Papers and selected responses from 14 universities (both general universities and those that call themselves Christian) with research ideas in these areas. We had numerous responses from faith-based practitioners in business who have found insightful ways to carry out their work in honor to God. We organized sessions for the presentation and discussion of these ideas on October 4, 2007 in Seattle.

Our goal for the conference is to bridge two gaps. The first is between Sunday and Monday. Can we create a strong link between biblical faith and the practice of business? Of course this means acting ethically, and finding ways to demonstrate our commitment to Christ. But it means more than this, in demonstrating the missional value of business as more than a means to some other end.

The second gap we sought to bridge was between those in business and those in the academy. Many academics have not had to deal with the day to day challenges of being in business, while many people in business have not sought to ground what they do in solid theory. So sometimes these groups talk past each other, or don’t talk at all. By having strong representation from both communities at this conference, in each session, and in the presentations, we looked to create a dialogue.

Ultimately, however, Jesus calls us to be stewards of the resources he has given us, and to be accountable for our work in the world. While we believe that business is a worthy calling, some recent activity in business has been far from worthy. The identification of new and better practices for business can bring healing and help to a hurting world, with the end, that “they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven,” Matthew 5:16.
A one day conference, October 4, 2007 7:00 am—4:30 pm (includes breakfast and lunch)Seattle Pacific University. For more information click on this link or any of the links below.

I. Introduction, why the importance of the subject, what else has been done

II. The Purpose of Business—Jeff Van Duzer

III. From the Viewpoint of a Person of Christian Faith in Business

A. Don Flow—CEO and Owner, Flow Automotive Customer Service

B. Jack Van Hartesvelt—Executive Vice President, Kennedy Associates Negotiations

C. Sherron Watkins, former Vice President of finance, Enron Dealing with Crises

IV. Business Leadership

A. Gerard Beenen, Carnegie Mellon University, and David Miller, YaleUniversity “Do Biblically Consistent Models of Leadership Work?”

B. Corne J. Bekker, Regent University “Sharing the Incarnation: Towards a Model of Christological Leadership”

C. Carter Crockett, Westmont College “In Search of a New Language and Model for Business”

D. Kristi Nelson, Seattle Pacific University “Using Power for the Greater Good”

E. Rick Franklin, Biola University and Regent University“ Authentic Leadership from the Image of God”

V. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

A. Dan Lawson, Ashland University “Applying Christian Values to CSR and Workplace Ethics”

B. George S. Babbes, Azusa Pacific University “In Search of a Sustainable CSR Business Model”

C. Samuel Seaman, Pepperdine University “A Personal Ethic to Sustain Virtuous Business”

D. Faith Wambura Ngunjiri, Yale Center for Faith and Culture “A Case Study of Cascade Engineering Company”

VI. Human Resources Practices

A. Mark Russell, Asbury Theological School, and Jeff Russell, YaleUniversity “A Theological Foundation for Off-Shoring Practices”

B. Jay Gary, Regent University“ Does Forgiveness Fit in the Workplace?”

C. Oneita Burton, Abeline Christian University “Faith-Based Approach to Organizational Communications Research”

D. Sean McHugh, Vice President, Block Imaging International “Designing and Leading Company-Wide Spiritual Development Programs”

VII. Organizational Values

A. Robert Eames, Calvin College; Stacy Jackson, Todd Steen, andSteven VanderVeen, Hope College “Making Values Matter in Organizations”

B. Tom Buckles, Biola University “Teaching Values in a Christian Business School”

C. John Kilroy, Emerging Concepts LLC “Values from the Beatitudes”

VIII. Marketing

A. Gary Karns, Seattle Pacific University“ A Theological Reflection on Exchange and Marketing”

B. Steve Strombeck, Azusa Pacific University “Corporate Integrity and Communication Strategies”

C. Marketing Business Leader—not yet finalized

IX. Finance

A. Tom Cottrell, University of Calgary “Resolving the Scriptures and Corporate Financial Markets”

B. Grant Learned and Herb Kierluff, Seattle Pacific University “Sources and Uses of Wealth from a Christian Perspective”

C. Finance Business Leader—not yet finalized

X. Conclusions and Panel Discussion: Denise Daniels, Chair; Don Flow, Jack VanHartesvelt, and Sherron Watkins

How to Register - Through the CBFA conference site