How can a church leader affirm and support scientists, science students, and others with science-informed vocations? This is a question that the Durham-based astrophysicist-turned theologian Revd Prof David Wilkinson asked in an interview with us some years ago. He would love it if church leaders encouraged scientists to see their work as a calling, and provided opportunities for them to share their stories. Here are some resources to help you to do just that.
Encouraging scientists in their work
Much of this advice applies to supporting Christians in any occupation, paid or unpaid. I’ve just finished Mark Greene’s Making Disciples for the Workplace (Grove Books, £3.95 pdf/paperback). This 28-page booklet is a helpful summary of much of Mark’s teaching and experience on workplace ministry to date. Two points that were especially highlighted were visiting church members in their workplaces, and having a this time tomorrow slot in Sunday services when people can share the joys and challenges of their everyday work.
Equipping scientists to think about their work in the context of Christian faith
The group Christians in Science does exactly what it says on the tin. Scientists, science students and other scientifically minded people can join up and receive encouragement through conferences, publications and local group activities. If there’s no CiS local group in your area, maybe you could encourage some of your congregation to join up and start one – and then support their activities? You can also sign up to CiS’s church affiliation scheme.
The Faraday Institute runs regular courses for people of all backgrounds to explore how science and faith relate together. You could encourage the scientists you know to go along, and also sign yourself up for our courses for local church leaders that run every January. There are plenty of resources to explore on our website, including talks by experienced professors on being a Christian in science.
Using their expertise
How could you empower the scientists in your congregation to serve the church with their knowledge and skills? Take a look at the Be Inspired or Quick Links for Church Leaders sections of our website for ideas. The Faraday Institute also employs a Church Engagement Director who can help you engage with science as part of your ministry and mission.
The Scientists in Congregations initiatives equip pastors and scientists to work together to help the whole church engage with science in a fruitful way. Grant-funded projects in the USA, Scotland and England have supported churches, cathedrals and organisations to run events, produce resources and minister to different audiences in a variety of creative ways. Take a look at each project’s website for a raft of resources and ideas, and keep an eye open for future grant-giving initiatives.
Finally, the Faraday Institute runs regular communication courses for scientists, to equip them to share their science and faith in schools, churches and beyond. Do let us know if you would like to nominate anyone for a place on the next course.