What if Sunday never ends
Christians will often use the term ‘faith integration’ to the point that it means different things to different people. in this episode, I define faith integration as a “Sunday that never ends”. Listen to learn why.
Definition of Never-ending by John Gallo
Christianity can seem like a lot to understand and take in, especially to a newcomer. In the By The Slice podcast, I tackle this problem by taking key concepts and ideas from the Christian faith and Christian higher education and serve them up by the slice. Whether you’re a newcomer to the faith or a Christian looking to reconnect a little deeper, let’s work through these issues together.
Hello and welcome to the By The Slice podcast. My name is John Gallo. I’m the Dean of Adult and Online Programs at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. In today’s episode, I’m going to talk a little bit about a topic that, if you’ve been in Christian circles for any length of time, or you’ve been involved in Christian education at all, or maybe you’re interested in completing your degree at Geneva College Online and you’re wondering what is faith integration? This is a term that Christians tend to sometimes use with each other, to the point where we wind up saying it so much that we think that each person is sort of operating out of the same definition and that’s not always the case. So today what I’m going to do is unpack that term a little bit more and explain what it means for both the Christian life, as well as what it means for Christian higher education.
If you’re like me, sometimes the best way to define something is to start by defining what faith integration is not … I would say to this is that faith integration is not simply just taking a Bible verse and adding it to a lesson. So, for example, let’s say you were in college and you’re studying leadership. Faith integration is not simply going and finding a Bible verse related to leadership, or going through the concordance of a Bible to look up all the different verses related to leadership and finding some little proverb that relates to leading other people and then tacking it on to the lesson for the week. Now that’s well and good in the sense that it’s important to look and see what the Bible has to say about things. But, in and of itself, that’s not what we tend to mean about faith integration.
Here’s why. Picture this scenario. Let’s say a friend of yours wants you to read a novel and so they bring you the novel and let’s say it’s a New York times bestseller. It’s a work of fiction. They open the book halfway in the middle of the book, let’s say just randomly open it up to a page, and they read three sentences of what’s on the page and then they ask you and they say, “Wow, what do you think of that?”
Now my guess is you’re probably going to be a little bit confused. You’re probably going to have several questions. You’re going to be like, “Well, I need to know more,” right? “I need to understand the setting. I need to understand the location. I need to understand the main characters. I need to understand the plot. I need to understand the conflict.” But that’s exactly what we tend to do with the Bible. Because the Bible is broken up into books and then each book is broken up into chapters and the chapters are numbered with verses, it’s very easy to tell people, “Hey, go to Proverbs 5, verse 1” and everyone can flip to their Bible and actually find it relatively quick.
But the problem with that is that the Bible is more than just a collection of random phrases. It is actually a narrative. There’s a narrative in the Bible that tells a story. There’s a setting, there’s a location, there are main characters, there’s a protagonist, there’s an antagonist, there’s a plot, there’s a conflict, and there’s a climax and a resolution. All those things you need to have a good understanding of because when you start to read random verses here and there, you have a tendency at times to perhaps forget the larger narrative of the Bible. It’s a history book and it talks about places and things that really happened and locations that you can actually go to and see. There are fights and wars that are being had right now in the Middle East over the same plots of land that the Bible is talking about through the Old Testament and into the New Testament.
So one of the things that we try to shy away from here at Geneva College Online is just randomly throwing Bible verses out there and you will read the Bible. In fact, the Bible is a recommended book. It’s going to be a book that you need to purchase and use in all your classes here at Geneva College Online.
But what we always try to do when we talk about the Bible is we try to put it in its context so that when you are reading a passage of scripture and you’re understanding something that Paul wrote, we’ll try to also have you understand a little bit about who the audience is that Paul was writing to. Who is Paul and why is he writing this and what’s the main conflict happening in this church, for example? Or something like that. So faith integration does not just simply mean pulling a Bible verse out, sticking it on a bumper sticker and putting it on the back of your car and washing your hands and saying, “There, I have integrated my faith.”
Integration of Faith and Learning – Christianity
The best way that I can describe what faith integration really is, is to describe it this way. It’s the belief that Sunday never ends. Faith integration is the belief that Sunday never ends. Here’s what I mean by this. For some Christians going to church on Sunday fulfills what they believe is their Christian involvement for the week. They go to church, they spend one hour, they listened to a pastor bring forth a message, they sing a few songs and then they go home and they live their life as if nothing else had changed.
But true faith integration means that our life is way more than just simply that one hour a week on a Sunday. What if the worship service never ends? What if Sunday is just simply corporate worship, but the other six days of the week you are actually worshiping God? You are worshiping through the way that you go to work, the work that you do, you worship him in the way that you are a spouse, you worship him in the way that you are a parent or the way that you’re a son or a daughter. That everything that we do is a form of worship. Sunday is just a form of corporate worship in which we gathered together with other like-minded believers to worship together collectively, but the other six days of the week is basically the way we worship privately. We do it through the way that we involve ourselves in our job, the way we involve ourselves in community, the way that we volunteer, the way that we parent, the way that we are a friend to others and things like that. It’s the belief that Sunday just never ends.
So one of the things that we want to do at a school, for example, like Geneva College, is we’re not looking to just train pastors and missionaries. Those are important jobs, but we’re actually looking to train people to become doctors and lawyers and engineers and teachers and to go out into all these different aspects of life. In fact, Geneva College is named after Geneva, Switzerland, and Geneva, Switzerland was a location where one of the great reformers, John Calvin, spent a formative part of his life. What he did was he was able to see an entire city that was basically operating out of principles of the reformation.
You see, before the Protestant Reformation, the prevailing thinking in the Catholic church of the day was that some jobs were more godly than other jobs. Jobs involving the church and being involved in the church as a priest or a monk or a nun or something like that was a better job than being a doctor or a lawyer. Those secular jobs were seen as profane, as dirty. Well, the Protestant Reformation turned that on its head and basically said that in God’s view, all jobs are basically godly and have the ability to serve God, worship God, and advance the kingdom.
So from the Protestant reformers and from the Geneva, Switzerland people of the world at the time, any job that you did had the opportunity of basically serving as a form of worship. So believe it or not, there is a way that you can clean toilets for the glory of God and there’s a way that you can do other mundane kinds of jobs that we all do for the glory of God. So faith integration and what our students learn in our program is not just what the Bible says about something. It’s what the Bible says and how we can then apply it to the discipline that we’re studying.
So those are different ways in which we sort of approach the faith perhaps differently than people who don’t claim Christ as their Lord and Savior, or people, for example, who maybe are in different religious philosophies.
So hopefully this was helpful in helping you to understand a little bit about what faith integration is and what it isn’t. Once again, my name is John Gallo, and thank you for listening to this episode of By The Slice.
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