Message from the President

The best witness: integrated lives

Connecting Christ and culture is core to George Fox.  The emphasis of “Christianity and Culture” on our university seal is as galvanizing to us today as it was at our inception in 1891. Above all, we seek to be living signposts that point to Jesus and his kingdom on earth.

We know culture is not static, however, and so engaging the new generation requires fresh thinking. This generation is experiencing change at a breakneck pace – both in technological advances and in accepted societal norms. It is clear that many of the church’s longstanding communication methods are not reaching them. Fewer than half of adults younger than 30 say that religion is very important to them, according to the Pew Forum (see page 10). We must reimagine our concepts of Christian outreach.

The Q conference, which I attended in May, explored many of the church’s challenges and opportunities in this area. Held in Portland, the conference drew together more than 600 church and cultural leaders to discuss what it means to share Christ in ways that are meaningful to today’s culture. The conference was entitled “Q,” not “A,” because its purpose was to dialogue and raise important questions rather than provide answers – an interesting idea.

Among the topics pertinent to George Fox was the discussion of vocation, or calling. Steve Garber, author of Fabric of Faithfulness, suggested that Christianity suffers when our faith commitments are isolated from our work and daily lives. What we do in our work is integral to the mission of God, he said.

Oftentimes we consider the vocation of pastors, missionaries or educators as more sacred than other occupations, and we might even assume that students select careers such as engineering or business for financial award, while those who choose to be ministers receive “higher” callings that connect faith more intimately with their work.

Garber suggests nothing could be further from the truth. God is vitally interested in the work of people within every honest profession, and he has gifted individuals to create and contribute in ways that enhance the common good within their communities.

Garber used author Walker Percy’s image of a signpost as a way to think about a person living an integrated Christian life. We are essentially living witnesses of how God is working in our world – signposts to all those who will read the message.

I loved this comment from Garber: “The work of human hands matters.” One of the more profound ways we can impact the kingdom of God at George Fox is to help students understand the connections between their careers and the life of faith.

I believe an environment like ours that encourages mentoring relationships and integrated faith and learning is a powerful instrument for shaping this generation’s cultural influencers.

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Yours in Christ,

Robin Baker