Dr. Chris Armstrong, Director, Bethel Work With Purpose Initiative
Though the second major snowstorm to hit Kansas City in two weeks delayed my flight by a day, I was delighted to arrive in balmy Lake Wobegon country on Thursday for a thoughtful conversation on faith and work at Bethel Seminary. Dr.Mark McCloskey who was one of my early faith mentors was a most gracious host carving out time to pick me up at the airport as well as welcoming me to a warm and inviting coffee shop where good latte’s and good conversation flowed with joyful abundance.
From the coffee shop we headed to Bethel for a meeting with Dr. Chris Armstrong who is leading the Bethel Work with Purpose Initiative graciously funded by the Kern Family Foundation. Although I had read some of Dr. Armstrong’s articles on faith and work, it was a special delight to meet him in person and to affirm his important institutional leadership in closing the Sunday to Monday gap and reframing the pastoral vocation. Bethel Seminary prepares a significant number of pastors who serve Evangelical churches around the country and their growing intentionality of teaching a robust theology of vocation is already beginning to make a big difference.
The main event of the day was a luncheon hosted by Dr. Chris Armstrong and devoted to the proposition that work really matters. Faculty, alums and students from the Bethel Seminary community were invited. The room was packed full and the response was enthusiastic and engaging. I was delighted to lead the conversation with Bill Haley who serves on the staff of Falls Church as well as the Washington Institute For Faith Vocation and Culture. Bill has thought a great deal about the theology of vocation as well as the practical realities of spiritual formation and pastoral care in a local church congregation that takes vocation seriously. Bill’s insight and wisdom added immeasurably to the conversation and enriched all of us. Bill is also just a whole lot of fun to be around.
Though it was a short time in the Twin Cities, I flew back to Kansas City with an encouraged heart, knowing God is doing a good work at Bethel under the leadership of outstanding faculty like Mark McCloskey and Chris Armstrong. A special thanks to the Bethel Seminary family for their warm reception and Christ-like hospitality. Keep up the good work!