Book Review – David Henderson
The Kingdom at Work Project – A communal approach to mission in the workplace
This hefty book demonstrates the author’s passion for ‘a communal approach to mission in the workplace’, the book’s sub-title.
David Clark has written extensively over the last 45 years on cities and communities. He has more recently focused on the ‘kingdom community’ and the ‘diaconal church’. The former he defines as ‘the divine community which manifests the Trinity’s universal and inclusive gifts of life, liberation, love and learning’. And he sees the latter as ‘a church which is the servant of the kingdom community’.
Clark describes the purpose of The Kingdom at Work Project as to ‘enable Christians to create workplaces transformed by the gifts of the kingdom community.’ He sets out 12 stages to this project.
The first seven stages describe the research he has undertaken and his resulting theology. This covers communities of character; a communal theology for the world of work; a communal spirituality for the world of work; a communal economy for the world of work; a communal model of institutions – Christian and secular; transition; and discernment.
Stage 8 (Intervention) sets out some generic practical examples of how Christians might help to transform their workplaces. The remaining four stages cover areas of the church that he believes need attention. Clark notes in his introduction on page 20 that ‘The Kingdom at Work Project….remains a work in process.’, opposite a useful diagram of the project’s stages on page 21. Those who want to understand the project will need to read and understand stages 1 to 7 before they can start to consider the practical examples of ‘Interventions’ set out in stage 8 I found this book difficult to assess.
Its strengths include the author’s obvious passion for his subject, some compelling material, a comprehensive description of an attractive ‘communal theology for the world of work’, and a good analysis of the workplace roles (actual and necessary) of both lay and ordained Christians.
However, there are also some significant shortcomings. The words ‘community’ or ‘communal’ are used 13 times in the Foreword in just over a page. It was many too many there and elsewhere throughout the book, typifying the repetitive nature of some of the material. Indeed, it is surprising that he does not define exactly what he means by ‘community’. The closest he comes is in his Glossary definition of…