Business and the Church

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Mon, 08/31/1998
End Date: 
Mon, 08/31/1998

Laura Nash, William McLennan and Peter Berger directed this study to assess the extent to which business people in the church integrate faith and work, and the role that the church and the clergy play in assisting them in this endeavor. The study also took account of the burgeoning of the "spirituality" movement in business. As they initiated their work, Nash and associates felt that the clergy-business laity relationship was in need of critical improvement; they also discovered that business leaders often found more support and guidance from the popular spirituality books and executive seminars than they did from their own religious leaders, many of whom were often unaware of or ignored their concerns. <p> Nash and McLennan concentrated their work on focus groups and individual interviews of clergy and business people in fifteen Boston area churches. They surveyed students and faculty in theological schools. Nash visited different "best practices" networks and programs throughout the country, completing case studies on Fuller Seminary's DePree Leadership Center, Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, National Institute of Business and Industrial Chaplains, Trinity Church Wall Street, Economic Education for Clergy, Inc., Woodstock Business Conference, Covey Leadership Center, and New Era Fund. The directors reviewed literature on faith and work, on the history of organized religion and the business community, and on "spirituality" programs for business people. <p> Two conferences served to analyze and communicate the project's findings, the first at Boston University on January 26, 1998, and the second at Fuller's DePree Center on July 13, 1998. Nash and McLennan incorporated project findings in their book Church on Sunday, Work on Monday: The Challenge of Fusing Christian Values with Business Life (Jossey-Bass, 2001). Among other things, the authors concluded that: (1) business people experience a "felt need" for a better integration of the spiritual and the vocational; (2) the current search for integration of faith and vocation, while not new, has taken on a certain urgency in part because of the churches' failure to take the matter seriously; and (3) there oftentimes exists a certain "distanced relationship" between clergy and business people.