HOW PEOPLE INTEGRATE FAITH AND WORK
St. Antoninus Institute
Here is a report on a study done in 1991 on Personal Needs and Congregational Responses by the Center for Ethics and Corporate Policy in Chicago. The results show that the laity is very interested in answers on how to integrate Faith and Work. The implications of the study are quite rich and may be of great help in any serious program of evangelization. Also the picture the study gives of the needs of church members can be most helpful to help understand how to approach any effort to promote stewardship.

The Catholic bishops had voted to support both a program of evangelization and a program to promote stewardship.

This study possesses an approach which is clearly politically correct and even on a purely biblical perspective quite narrow in its representation of Christian values. Thus, we believe a solid Catholic contribution is quite needed but as often the Protestants seem always to get in there first. And the Catholic bureaucracy seems to still be geared to fight the last war of evangelization.

Our manuscript, The Handbook of Business Wisdom, is still looking for a publishing house on the false assumption that the Catholics and Christians in the pew are not interested in integrating faith and work. In it, instead of the dozen of themes evaluated in this study in an disjointed fashion, we study several hundreds of themes of management and show their theological and business interrelation.

We will also briefly introduce a plan the St. Antoninus Institute has been working on to respond to the needs mentioned in the study.

Introduction

The Center was founded by Grace Episcopal Church of Chicago and sponsored in part by an ecumenical and interfaith group of churches in the Chicago-area.

There was a minimum of Catholic cooperation in this study and basically no contribution from the Catholic Church hierarchy in the design and development of the study.

The study was done to understand how religious life succeeds and fails to inform the work and business life and practice of members of congregations.

The Center was a meeting point of clergy and businessmen and people from the private sector. The members of clergy contributing to the center stated that they were often frustrated by a lack of understanding of the worlds of business and economics and of a practical sense of the difficulties that lay-people experience everyday at work. On the other hand, businesspersons expressed the desire to integrate their religious and professional lives but they found the churches and clergy either hostile to the world of business or generally unhelpful in creating constructive links between the two."

The study was done in order to quantify the extent of the problem and have a better understanding of the level of expectations and needs the laity was experiencing in this effort to integrate their work and their faith. The survey started with in-depth studies, that is study in the content of the subject using a limited numbers of individuals talking and exchanging their views with the researchers. This phase of such a study is very useful to bring out the essential points which the following questionnaire-based study will measure.

After the questionnaire data are presented, analysis and comments on the study findings follow. Some contributors even included individual papers reflecting their own standing and understanding of the results. The study, last but not least, offers recommendations for religious communities and congregations.

The people in charge of the Center intend afterwards to do closer studies of successful congregations: how to go about helping their members integrate faith and work. Then they intend to do some theological and ecclesiological work to develop the concepts necessary to understand what is going on and what is helpful in those matters. Finally, they intend to bring out all kind of educational materials and other resources as teaching aids to help facilitate more widely the integration of faith and work in churches.

The Population Studied

The questionnaire survey was targeted to the members of different churches all from the Chicago area.

Nine groups were represented; five of the nine were considered as mainline Protestant (liberal to moderate in the own words of the report). They were: the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the United Methodist Church. Then two groups of Protestant conservative churches: the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and the Evangelical Covenant Church. These two were viewed as not offering the full range of conservative Protestant churches; whereas the five former were considered as offering the broad range of liberal Protestant Churches.

The study also included Roman Catholics and members of the three branches (Orthodox, Conservative and Reform) of Judaism. For the 9 groups, 159 congregations cooperated in the study. None of these congregations had a distinct ethnic character, which disappointed the researchers who had hoped to get some insights in attitudes and behavior based on ethnic differences.

In the questionnaire survey, all the mainline Protestant groups are lumped together. The median income of the first group is $80,000 for the Jews, then $50,000 for the mainline Protestant and Catholics, then $45,000 for the Missouri Synod members, the $40,000 for the Evangelical Covenant members. Among those working, 14% of the Jews are in high managerial position and 7% of each of the other groups.

Values

These values where the themes which emerged during the focus groups, or in-depth discussions.

First the organizational values articulated included: respect for employee rights, clarity about professional and managerial expectations, directness in dealing, honesty, attention to quality and personalized service.

Some value questions were phrased as dilemmas: termination of employees, discrimination against women and minorities, and organizational pressures to make unrealistic promises. Specific relation between faith and work introduced the following concepts: faith permits the integration of work with other spheres of life, something ingrained a base or foundation, a grounding that motivates one for work . Faith provides courage to confront issues... faith was not considered as a problem or hindrance at work.

Other themes: vocation (e.g. the call to connect faith and work), wholeness: one seeks wholeness in work, relating faith to work and seeking to manifest the inter-relatedness of all creation
—holiness/dignity work seeks to embody the holiness of persons/work requires respect for the dignity of persons.
—evil: Faith requires us to name debilitating work conditions as evil.
—incarnation: work is incarnational.

The focus groups had many ideas and attitudes on how to help churches to develop programs on how to better integrate faith and work.

Answers To The Survey

The Key question was: How separate or integrated do you view your faith and work?

Most members found a high level of integration. 80% of Evangelical Covenant members found their faith and work very integrated and somewhat integrated. 50% of Jews had the same replies, about 68% of Catholic (in fact the second lowest group) and more for Missouri-Synod and Mainline Protestants.

Telling from an in-depth study done only for mainline Protestants, the more often the Church members attended Church services the more likely they were to respond positively.

Another question was how important are religion and its teachings to each of the following: (1) your family life, (2) your work life, (3) your life as citizen and (4) your leisure life. The answers were roughly structured the same as above for the work life: 84% of Evangelical Covenant members answered very important or important, 45 percent of Jews and about 66% of mainline Protestants, Missouri-Synods and Catholics.

Work life is considered the third area of life in terms of integration with the faith. Family and political life come before work life. But for Catholics and Protestant who place the importance of the Faith as very important or important the difference between work life and political life (the second most important area) is at most 5%.

When we know how little is done to help people integrate their work life with their faith compared to all the efforts to bring integration between political life and the faith, we will understand a beginning of the needs in that area.

Other Issues:

Almost last but just before the Jews, Catholics are the least satisfied with the application of ethics in all issues.

The area of work life is where, like all the other denominations, they are the least satisfied. Catholics draw their ethical standards first from their family, like all denominations. They draw their ethical the least from work experience and individuals at work like the other denominations (By the way this vendicates us and goes against the accepted wisdom which we attacked in our doctoral dissertation: the use in the teaching of business ethics of the case method involving practical issues of work experience and the sharing the experience and reactions of other individuals at work, or of other students of business ethics.)

Catholics are the most likely to be influenced on ethical standards by educational institutions; while they are also the second least likely to be influenced on ethical standards by religious teachings. It is possible that they cannot distinguish between influenced by and obeying, they are influenced by educational institutions and their religious teachings but they do not follow these teachings, possibly. Catholics are the second group most likely to discuss religious matters at work.

The Support Received

Catholics are again last but one—only ahead of the Jewish group—for the support they receive in Church concerning ethical decisions in matters of work, whether this support comes from pastoral care, worship, sermons, the Bible, Congregational programs, study materials, support from lay members.

They tie with mainline Protestant (the last group of Protestants) for prayer (although prayer is the most important of source of support for every group).

It may be interesting to make a difference between the support drawn indirectly from being in Church and the support given directly by the Church. Prayer is definitely a support drawn without much of the assistance of the Church community.

As relates to sermons, sermons on work issues are, by far, the least frequent types of sermons for all religious groups. Members of all congregations seldom get more that 10% of their sermons on work issues.

Catholics are least satisfied with congregational emphasis on work. When they respond that their pastors give often sermons on work, the Catholics are the least satisfied with these sermons (89% against 93% Jews satisfied). When they have sermons on work sometimes the Catholics are still the least satisfied of these sermons. When they respond that they never get sermons on work, Catholics are the second least satisfied group.

Conclusions Of The Study

The conclusions of the study:

1. There is a strong relationship between religious involvement and making connections between faith and work.

2. The strong affirmation given to making connections between faith and work life is cause for rejoicing.

3. There are clear signs that religious support for work life is sometimes quite helpful.

4. There is a strong mandate for congregations to address work issues.

Saint Antoninus Circles

The Saint Antoninus Institute has always been strongly convinced of all the major conclusions of this study.

People of faith want to integrate their work life and their faith. Very little is done to help them. A good program in that direction could be most rewarding. We had developed plans for Saint Antoninus Circles some time ago.

One reason why we have not set them up yet is that we were expecting our manuscript, The Handbook of Business Wisdom, to be published and thus to be available as resource for the Circles. The Evil One has delayed many times the publication of this book. Publishers may have not been convinced of the market for it. Hopefully this study will help them.

Before describing the format of the Saint Antoninus Circles, let us say a few words of background. This format is incorporating the experience we acquired attending weekly meetings at the Opus Dei house in Washington for a year (before settling down for a Dominican spirituality) and gaining many insights in the format of these meetings.

Another whole array of insights comes from our experience with another fine Catholic organization called Communion and Liberation, a group set up by a priest which has basically overwhelmed the student community of Italy. We have talked to some leaders and studied three books (not available in English) on their ideas, policy and history.

We have drawn several conclusions:

1. In each Circle we must rely on the charism of one person to lead the Circle.

2. The organization of the circles must be very flexible to allow for differences between leaders and between chapters

3. We must therefore insist on essential elements of what are required of each Circle.

Our essential elements are the following:

1. The circles must be parish-based, preferably with meeting within the walls of the parish church.

2. There must be a spiritual element at each meeting: mass, and/or adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and/or Rosary.

3. There must be an educational element: basically the members must dedicate themselves to studying the social teachings of the Church and apply lessons to their experiences and problems.

4. There must be a social element: a spirit of fellowship should pervade the meetings so that the concept of solidarity be firmly implanted in these Circles. Members should benefit from the practical experience of their peers in study and prayer.

We would expect many practical programs, such as helping a member find a job, be handled informally within each Circle. Based on needs, the emergence of coordinating committees at the diocesan level would then follow. The Institute would coordinate diocesan committees at the national level.

We believe the Circles could be a very effective way to help individuals better integrate their faith and work life, an area for which, as we have seen here, there is a great need and very little satisfaction of the need.

In addition, the Circles would become very powerful tools of evangelization and, last but not least, a new reason for renewed dynamism of parish communities.

We have some additional material for those interested in investigating the possibility of setting up Saint Antoninus Circles in their parishes. Please contact us.

Study Analysis and New Program Announcement File 5/4a
St. Antoninus Institute


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