Every Vocation a Great Commission Vocation: SEBTS hosts inaugural Faith at Work event
SEBTS Staff | May 11, 2021
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) hosted its inaugural networking event for Christian business professionals, Faith at Work, in an effort to equip and encourage Christian business leaders to value and utilize their work as ministry for the glory of God.
James “Jim” Morgan, former President and CEO of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc. (2005-2016), delivered the keynote address. Morgan’s arrival at Krispy Kreme was anything but easy. He stepped into a failing company and an unhealthy culture. However, Morgan had resolved to put Christ at the center of his approach to business. In practice, this looked like his implementation of Faith, Family, and Community Days, or FF&C Days for short. This was a step at creating a healthier work culture in which employees were encouraged time to nourish their faith, spend time with family, and serve the community. He also allowed employees to start an optional Bible study and email devotionals to staff as a way to implement faith in the workplace in a non-coercive way.
Morgan also pushed back on simply selling more doughnuts as a motivator for getting the business back on its feet. “Let’s find a vision bigger than selling doughnuts,” he remembers telling his Krispy Kreme staff. This led to the creation of their current mission and vision statements, “Our mission is to touch and enhance lives through the joy that is Krispy Kreme. Our vision is to be the worldwide leader in sharing delicious tastes and creating joyful memories.”
To fulfill the new mission and vision of Krispy Kreme, Morgan developed core values that demonstrated a greater mission than simply selling doughnuts. These values included pursuing excellence; growing as a cohesive team; becoming servant leaders and stewards; and becoming passionate about faith, family, the community, and Krispy Kreme. By 2013, Krispy Kreme had made a significant turnaround as a company. All of this, Morgan noted, was a testament to culture change within the company rooted in rooted in his approach to creating a Christ glorying culture that values people.
Following Morgan’s address, he and four other regional business leaders came together for a panel discussion with moderator and professor Benjamin Quinn. Quinn serves as Assistant Professor of Theology and History of Ideas and Associate Dean for Institutional Effectiveness at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and has researched and written extensively on the intersection of faith, work, and economics.
Panelists included Harry Nelson, Chief Operating Officer at Eventide Asset Management, a values-based investment management firm that manages approximately $8 billion primarily through the Eventide Funds; Dee Labriola, Director of Recruiting for Turas Group, a missional faith-driven staffing agency based in Raleigh, NC; Gabe Chatham, SEBTS alumnus (MDiv in International Church Planting) and Vice President of Chathambilt Homes which recently was awarded the Southern Living Custom Home Builder of the Year; and Morgan, who along with his leadership at Krispy Kreme has more than 40 years of business experience.
Panelists discussed topics ranging from creating a healthy work culture to how to measure success as a believer in the business world.
“We cannot find our ultimate identity in work or fulfillment in work,” said Labriola. “But we can still do a lot of good and partner with our Creator God in cultivating, in creating, and in contributing to human flourishing.”
In closing, panelists also noted ways in which business can used to advance the Great Commission. Often missionaries are viewed as only those who give their lives to full-time overseas missions. However, they noted that those who are called to work stateside can leverage their careers to allow the gospel to flourish in their communities and beyond.
“One thing I’ve loved here at Southeastern is the catchphrase, ‘Every classroom is a Great Commission classroom,’” said Chatham. “I think for those of us who are believers, every workplace is a Great Commission workplace.”
The date for the 2022 Faith at Work conference is to be determined, but event organizers and participants alike are excited at the opportunity to continue resourcing, equipping, and encouraging business leaders to make disciples and fulfill the Great Commission.