At Work & Public Square & Theology 101

Discover How the Next Generation Is Embracing Faith & Work

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We’ve written a bit about the millenial generation and its approach to the biblical doctrine of work. With so many young Christians struggling with what’s been termed a “quarter life crisis,” it’s important that they understand what the Bible says about vocation, faith, and work.

One young man in particular is answering God’s call on his life to help his brothers and sisters in Christ see how their careers and faith can be combined to impact culture for the glory of God.

During his senior year at the University of Georgia, Austin Burkhart became captivated by the idea of influencing a generation of Christians to embrace business excellence and missional impact to maximize their workplace influence for Jesus.

Burkhart says about two years ago God awakened him to the idea that his faith and work can and should go hand-in-hand. He soon began to desire to see this same paradigm-shift in his church:

[I wanted] my local church to celebrate and equip Christian leaders in business, education, science and the arts the same way they celebrated and equipped foreign missionaries.

Last October, he gathered with a few close friends. They envisioned an environment where conversations uniting faith and work flourished. Burkhart says,

We cast a huge vision for gathering Christians together to celebrate, encourage and challenge each other to unite faith and work. To live one integrated life not divided by a chasm between Sunday and Monday.

In January 2013, he launched his plan into action and ONE2 was born. Burkhart called it “an evening of practical conversation for college students where Christian business leaders share advice about how to unite faith & work.”

He formed and led a team to bring this dream to life. Together with his team, Burkhart:

• Developed a sustainable financial model and a marketing plan.

• Handled all event logistics.

• Hired and tasked a graphic artist, web designer, videographers, caterer, and event staff.

• Sold tickets and secured sponsorships to cover costs.

On April 4th from 6-9 pm, Burkhart and his team hosted the first ONE2 event in Athens, GA. Keynote speakers included Hugh Whelchel, executive director of the Institute for Faith, Work, & Economics, and Chris Carneal, founder of Booster.

Over 120 college students and 25 Christian mentors from the community attended. The mentors shared ideas and practical tips about how to unite faith and work from their experience as Christians and leaders in science, education, and business.

Austin spoke to IFWE about ONE2 and how he hopes the message of faith and work changes the hearts, minds, and behavior of his generation.

Why did you see a need for ONE2?

When I started seriously following Jesus I felt this need to adjust my vocational goals to fit the perfect “spiritual” career. While I had deep passions for marketing, creative media, and business, I built up an invisible wall between faith and work. I started seeing jobs as either sacred or secular and buying into the lie that God sees some vocations as inherently more spiritual than others.

I found that many of my Christian friends wrestled with this tension between faith or work as well. What we began to discover is that God was calling us to both faith and work. Faith in work. Faithful work. Out of that paradigm shift, ONE2 was born.

How did ONE2 get its name?

A one-two punch is defined as “an especially forceful or effective combination or sequence of two things.” We became captivated by this idea of business excellence that leads to missional impact. At ONE2, we want to be a generation of Christians defined by business impact and missional impact delivered together for maximum effect.

How does ONE2 add value to the church community?

ONE2 equips young Christians for a lifetime of faithful work. As they work this out in community with a local church, they will develop into a world-changing generation of Christian leaders.

How do you want hearts, minds, and behavior to change in the lives of those who attend ONE2?

We want to change the idea that some jobs or professions are more spiritual than others and unleash a generation of Christians to pursue their vocational passion while remaining rooted in their spiritual purpose.

If hearts, minds, and behavior change, what will the results be on an individual level, and on a broader economic level?

Personally, this paradigm shift equips Christians for a lifetime of faithful work. Economically, they build unstoppable momentum through repeating the One-Two punch of business excellence and missional impact to become leaders who set right what’s wrong in the world and who work for the prosperity of the city in which they live.

Can you share a specific example of where you saw God working at ONE2?

I met Chris Render, our caterer, because of a mutual friend. He was working in the kitchen of a local restaurant and we sat down for coffee. I shared the heart behind ONE2 and the tension I personally felt between faith & work. He immediately lit up with passion as he explained how he was working for this company full-time but felt like God had gifted him to be a caterer.

He told me that instead of quitting or dropping responsibilities at his day job, he would use that to develop his skills and work hard to equip his future. He was a perfect example of working faithfully in the situation God had called him. He took all the responsibility for purchasing, preparing, and cooking dinner and dessert for ONE2 as well as coordinating a team to assist him. His hard work, leadership skills, and culinary talent all paid off and the food was a highlight of the evening!

With such incredible feedback from college students and table leaders, Burkhart and his team are busy building a resources-oriented website and planning to bring ONE2 to another city. He says,

We think there’s a whole lot more that God wants to do through us so we believe that we’re just getting started!

Burkhart graduated from the University of Georgia in May 2013 with a double major in mass media arts and marketing and will go on to pursue a career in creative media and marketing for Booster.

If you are interested in bringing a ONE2 conversation to your city, you can reach Austin at austin.burkhart@gmail.com

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