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The Other Six Days: Vocation, Work, and Ministry in Biblical Perspective [Paperback]

By R. Paul Stevens (Author)
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Item description for The Other Six Days: Vocation, Work, and Ministry in Biblical Perspective by R. Paul Stevens...

In this provocative book, Stevens writes the clergy-laity division has no basis in the New Testament and challenges all Christians to rediscover what it means to live daily as God's people. Exploring the theological, structural and cultural reasons for treating laypeople as the objects of ministry, Stevens argues against the idea of clericalism and in favor of equipping people for ministry in their homes, workplaces and neighborhoods.

Publishers Description

Throughout history the church has been composed of two types of people--those who do ministry and those to whom it is done. In this provocative book R. Paul Stevens shows that the clergy-laity division has no basis in the New Testament and challenges all Christians to rediscover what it means to live daily as God?'s people.

Exploring the theological, structural, and cultural reasons for treating laypeople as the objects of ministry, Stevens argues against the idea of clericalism. All Christians are called to live in faith, hope, and love, and to do God?'s work in the church and world. This biblical perspective has serious implications for the existing attitudes and practices of many churches as well as for our understanding of ministry. Stevens shows that the task of churches today is to equip people for ministry in their homes, workplaces, and neighborhoods.

Written by a scholar and pastor well known as an active advocate for the whole people of God, this thought-provoking book--made even more useful with the inclusion of case studies and study questions at the end of each chapter--offers inspiring reading for anyone interested in what the Christian life holds for the other six days of the week.

Citations And Professional Reviews
The Other Six Days: Vocation, Work, and Ministry in Biblical Perspective by R. Paul Stevens has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -

  • Christian Retailing - 09/05/2000 page 83
  • Publishers Weekly - 07/11/2000

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Pages   289
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.26" Width: 6.38" Height: 0.8"
Weight:   0.99 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 5, 2000
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Edition  New  
ISBN  0802848001  
ISBN13  9780802848000  

Availability  85 units.
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More About R. Paul Stevens

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! R. Paul Stevens is professor emeritus of marketplace theology and leadership at Regent College, Vancouver, British Columbia. His previous books include "Work Matters: Lessons from Scripture" and (with Alvin Ung) "Taking Your Soul to Work: Overcoming the Nine Deadly Sins of the Workplace."

R. Paul Stevens was born in 1937.

R. Paul Stevens has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Fisherman Bible Studyguides
  2. Lifeguide Bible Studies

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Clergy > Ministry
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Christian Living > Practical Life > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Other Six Days: Vocation, Work, and Ministry in Biblical Perspective?

Finally someone who understands what "ministry" really is!  Feb 14, 2006
In The Other Six Days: Vocation, Work and Ministry in Biblical Perspective, Paul Stevens addresses the subject of theology for the Christian life. He aims to give a comprehensive biblical foundation for the Christian's life in the world as well as the church by developing three particular aspects of Christian theology: vocation, work and ministry. His audience ranges from the "ordinary" Christian, untrained in academic theology, to historians and theologians alike. From the start, he makes it clear that he is looking to engage those who are interested in wrestling with what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus here and now, both at home and in the workplace. Even his title - The Other Six Days - reveals his desire to explore biblically whether or not all of life, apart from Sunday or Sabbath, is infused with meaning. His main contention is that the conventional way in which the clergy and laity are distinguished, which he argues emerged from history in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, deepened from the 4th to 16th centuries, and remained through the Reformation even until today, must be abolished and instead a new understanding of "the whole people of God" must be constructed using a full Trinitarian approach.

In the proposal of his ideas, there are at least four assumptions from which Stevens is arguing his points. First, he is writing in response to what he believes to be an unbalanced and fragmented theology for the Christian life that needs to be unified. Second, he is dissatisfied with similar attempts that deal only with Christians while at church; rather Stevens is interested in translating the word of God into situations where people live and work, including the "menial, the trivial and the necessary." Third, he believes that there are some theologians who have made somewhat successful attempts at developing this kind of all-encompassing theology, and he intends to build upon them. Finally, he assumes all theology is practical, and despite the separation of theology from practice since the 11th century, he argues tenaciously that theology as a way of living must be fully recovered.

The first part of Steven's book is dedicated to a deconstruction of the conventional ways in which laity and clergy are seen. By comparing what exists in most churches today - two classes of people separated by education, ordination and intonation - against the various biblical portrayals of the people of God, and by highlighting some of the negative ramifications of making a clergy-laity distinction, Stevens illustrates the need to reconsider how the people of God should be viewed. He argues from Scripture there is nothing to suggest that Jesus has delegated his authority to certain church members who have responsibility for the ministry of others, and instead the people of God are better seen as "one ministering people with leaders whose role it is to serve." Stevens concludes the first section by basing his theology on a Trinitarian understanding of God, where the people of God, like the Godhead, don't just contribute but actually share in the ministry. For this reason, he argues that the people of God relate best as a community with roles but without hierarchy.

In the second part of the book Stevens develops this theology, using the Trinitarian approach, in the order prescribed in the subtitle - vocation, work and then ministry. First, given the biblical use of the word `calling,' he argues for an understanding of God's call, or vocation, to individuals not as a call to a career, a situation in life or even a particular church-related vocation, but instead as a call: to belong to God (communion); to be God's people (community-building); and to do God's work (co-creativity). Second, by reminding the reader of the `not yet' and `here and now' aspects of salvation found in the Scriptures, he shows not only how human work can have significance both in this life and in the life to come, but also how work itself has intrinsic value any time it seeks to partner with God in his work of saving souls and maintaining and developing the earth. Third, he asserts that a Trinitarian theology of ministry requires that ministry, or service, be seen as "the expression of the relational love life of the triune God through the whole people of God in the empowering presence of the Spirit."

In the third and final portion of his book, Stevens offers a restructuring of the church based on these new understandings of vocation, work and ministry. His council ranges from the dynamics of church leadership to how the church should respond to both natural and supernatural resistance. Above all else in this section, he argues for a revitalization of the true meaning of `mission,' which, he observes, has tragically declined since the 16th century to mean human outreach. Tracing the concept of mission through the Bible, he argues for an understanding of mission as "what God is doing to bless all the nations through the resurrection of Christ" and for the church's involvement in this mission by bringing in the Kingdom here and now.

Stevens is effective in helping the reader understand the historical and cultural factors that have shaped modern thinking on the subject of vocation, work and ministry, and his Trinitarian approach is both balanced and timely. It is balanced in the sense that all three members of the Godhead are involved in his holistic understanding of vocation and ministry, and timely in the sense that there are many pastors to whom this book will inform and assist tremendously. Although he does not succeed in developing a comprehensive biblical foundation for the Christian life in the world and in the church because, referring to his own diagram of the dimensions of Christian vocation , some major components of the Christian life, such as rest (Sabbath), personal spirituality, neighbor, and family, are left theologically undeveloped, nonetheless Stevens does succeed in establishing a foundation upon which these facets can later be explored.

I believe this is an important book for our time and culture. Amidst many local churches where not only the clergy-laity divide still exists but continues to be enthusiastically encouraged, Steven's work is a tactful critique of a body of belief that simply needs to be reformed. His theology is well thought out, and his message is relevant not only for those who are wondering exactly how all of their life can be fused with meaning but also for those who have not yet realized it.
The whole people of God engaging in the whole work of God  Aug 1, 2004
R. Paul Stevens uses this book to step back from common assumptions about Christian life and re-assess how all of God's people contribute value to his kingdom.

Stevens' major argument is that there should be no high separation between clergy and laity within the church. To clarify: he recognizes different gifts and roles, and by all means the pastor should be the pastor and the janitor should be the janitor; but before God they are qualitatively the same, rather than one being an 'ordained position' that God can really use, and the other a lay position that's only out there so that the ordained guy can do what really matters.

Stevens treats this topic quite extensively. He examines the scriptures and finds no support for distiction between layity and clery within the new testament, and thoughtfully considers the implications of the old testament structures for the new testament. He then looks at different points within the early Fathers and subsequent church history and analyses how a distinction of clergy developed; his obvious implication is that it shouldn't have.

Stevens spends a fair amount of thought on a person's calling and ordination. There is much that would be valuable for the church to consider here. A sampling of thoughts:
* If we ordain people that live out their Christian work as pastors, let us also ordain people that live out their Christian work in other roles: let us ordain the salesperson to be a salesperson to the glory of God as he ethically promotes commerce, the painter be a painter to the glory of God as he explores meaning and creates beauty, the farmer, the manager, the home maker ...
* The call to be a pastor is typically not a mystical experience; the Damascus road experience of Paul was the exception, not the norm. Rather, the normative call to a leadership role in a church in the New Testament was from "the church" itself (Stevens doesn't delve into considering Presbyterian vs. Episcopal governance). Why do we not still do this, and train those so called by the church, rather than youth go off to seminary based on their own whim before they are even mature enough for military service?

Stevens never outlines his underlying worldview, but you can pick some of it up from clues as you read. He doesn't give enough clues to pick up his denomination (though what he says clearly rules several out). His views include those...
* fairly consensual among the church (e.g., covenant theology), to others
* immaterial to the topic (e.g., he never discusses it, but one chart implies he is a pre-millenialist), to others
* controversial (e.g., that the church should be no distinction between men and women, in the process stating -- without providing any rationale -- that Junia was an apostle. Thankfully, in the news as I write this review, it is in the news that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger is defending us from that one with an encyclical!)

As the book nears the end, Stevens introduces lots of ideas around living out life in the world.
This scattering of ideas is presented without a uniting framework, and the ideas themselves are not fully developed within the text. The topics he addresses are reasonably abstact -- there are certainly no simplistic "7-steps-to-such-and-such" that curse much popular writing. As typical treatment of a topic, he describes options for approach to political involvement, ranging from Anabaptist to Theology of Liberation, in a couple pages; elsewhere he provides out-of-the-blue a quote about "red, green, and white martyrdom" from "the medieval celtic church" with no surrounding evaluative comments. Some of the many ideas throughout the book I found through provoking, and others off the wall.

This is a good book to read if the reader to come at it with a "testing the spirits" attitude. After the well-worked-out treatment of the topic of clergy / layity non-separation, Stevens' ideas are quickly introduced without rigourous thought. I found some of the biblical citations that he uses are invalid - read in context, they don't actually support the point he is making. (But then, that's too common a fault in most treatises!) Use this as an opportunity to initiate thoughts down new paths where the idea warrants it, under guidance of scripture and prayer. This is I think in fact Stevens' intention: the book is not intended to fully answer every questions, but rather contains case studies and probing questions of its own (at the end of each chapter) to stimulate the reader to think further for himself -- or herself, as Stevens would be certain to complete the phrase.
foundational book ~ from a novice in theology  Apr 20, 2004
I came to read Dr. Stevens book as one who did not realize the extent to which I had dichotomistic thinking in my approach to deeds. I will be the first to admit that I am a beginner theologian who happens to work in the marketplace. So, as an untrained theologian I just made it through the book (but the word "just" is not meant to discourage anyone).

The reading, first and foremost, challenged my definition of mission. I realized that the posture of my heart is more than doing deeds (evangelizing, etc). In the book I can remember reading (and I paraphrase) "you can preach on the corner with a prideful heart, or do computer programming to the glory of God, what is more pleasing to God?" These types of statements combined with a sound trinitarian perspective of work, helped reshape my thinking.

Yet after reading the book for the last two years I have sought more answers. I have begun skimming through the book again to begin to answer some of my questions. For instance, in practice, I have tried to not solely validate people's occupation based on the good it produces to society. This is tough... In actuality, in engaging the marketplace in how they perceive work, the horizontal (God and your work), should be introduced and flushed out as the primary motivator and paradigm through which Christians in the marketplace should view their work, RATHER than how much time they have to evangelize, how many people they employ, etc. This is a real struggle, and I seek answers on how to present a theology that is practical and can be communicated easily and effectively to the average follower of Christ. So, consider that a request for "A dummies guidebook on how to flush out a theology of work in the life of the church."

Well done Dr. Stevens!

The book that will underpin the marketplace movement!  Nov 7, 2000
I bought this book on the recommendation from a friend. I have been looking for a book that would give a theological framework to what is now called the "marketplace movement". I was also looking for a book to encourage bussiness people and university students that their "work" is of real significance to God. I have not been dissapointed.

What is significant about "The Other Six days" is it's approach. This is not a popular critque of the seperation between work and worship, mission and ministry, clergy and laity. Instead it reconstructs a unifying theology welling up out of scripture, flowing out of the Trininty providing a paradigm of vocation, work, ministry and mission as an intergrated whole. The outcome is all the people of God participate in the Trinities work, mission and ministry.

The book is broken into three parts. Part 1 A people without "Laity and Clergy" Part 2 Summoned and equipped by God and Part 3 For the life of the world.

Each part traces ideas down through the church`s history which now discolour our thinking and practice on the issues addressed. Secondly the contemporary context is explored. The author then gets under the skin of these issues through sound biblical exgesis and an applied theology of the Trinity.

What resulted for me is a dynamic new way of understanding "calling" , work, ministry and mission. It has revitalised my understanding of the church and its work in society.

I found the discussion questions at the end of each chapter to be excellent. There are readings to examine, contemporary case studies to explore, situations to evaluate and examples to analyse. These are excellent for group or individual study, reflection and interaction.

If you are wanting to explore further the issues the book has raised the author provides a fantastic selected bibliograhy, index of authors, biblical references and subjects. The footnotes also provde a rich source for further research.

Overall I'm deeply impacted by the thought, devotion and reflection which has gone into this book. I fully recommend it to anyone wanting to grapple with the intergration of faith and daily life.


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