2020 started on a high with Business for the Common Good (BCG), the largest event in Denver Institute’s history. More than 400 guests, including entrepreneurs, investors, manufacturers, and innovators from around the world, packed ballrooms at the Grand Hyatt Denver for a day exploring our call to love God and serve our neighbors through business. Behind the scenes, I marveled as guests consumed cup after cup of coffee–more than 70 gallons in total! With each cup, bonds within Colorado’s business community grew.
The day built on a biblical foundation laid by tech executive turned theologian Katherine Leary Alsdorf and explored themes as diverse as a Christian perspective on sales, the risks and opportunities posed by artificial intelligence, and generous business practices. Nationally known investment manager Bob Doll (Nuveen, BlackRock) rounded out our time together by sharing wisdom gained in his 40 years of business leadership.
For many businesspeople, a gathering like Business for the Common Good serves as an annual “reset,” aligning their hearts and minds to God’s purpose for work and reminding them that he is moving in spite of the pressures they face.
The biggest gift I received from BCG was hope. The world of business has not been surrendered to the enemy. God is at work; he is making it new. To see so many leaders from Denver in agreement with all this planted seeds of hope in my heart.Guest at Business for the Common Good
Over the years, we’ve learned that BCG serves as a gathering of the tribe, a day when Christians who may feel isolated in their workplace or industry connect with like-minded leaders. “One of the greatest benefits of attending BCG is knowing that I'm not alone,” another guest observed. “Being in a room full of people from different industries [who] are committed to the welfare of our city and the lives of our neighbors is good for the soul.” As these connections grow, we dream of a day when Christians across our city and nation bring their professional expertise, relational networks, and love to our communities’ toughest challenges.
As 2020 began, we celebrated the ways that the Denver Institute community grew through events like BCG and beyond. Did you know that episodes of The Faith & Work Podcast have been downloaded more than 37,000 times? Over the last year we’ve explored the world of work with well-known leaders like communications expert Nancy Duarte, psychologist Curt Thompson, and entrepreneur Donna Harris, and examined topics that hit closer to home like navigating job loss or “leading up” when you’re not in charge.
Denver Institute’s online learning platform, formerly known as “Scatter,” rebranded in early 2020 as the Faith & Work Classroom and gained a number of new courses. This free resource brings insight from practitioners across industries to churches and individuals around the world. We continue to be surprised by the classroom’s reach, as church planters as far away as the Philippines have reached out to thank us for these resources. With courses like “Finding Your Calling,” “Embracing Sabbath Rest,” or “The Holiness of Work” by Eugene Peterson, these user-friendly Bible studies, videos, and discussion guides may be the perfect fit for your small group.
As we celebrated the success of an event like Business for the Common Good, we could not have imagined the dramatic changes in store for our work. A few weeks later, we hosted an event for medical professionals exploring the complexities of the opioid crisis and how Christians working in healthcare can respond faithfully to the suffering of our neighbors. As news of closures and quarantines filled the airwaves, we commissioned 40 medical professions unto the ministry of medicine. We had no idea how quickly our celebration would take a turn.
I look back with gratitude, recognizing all the ways God prepared us for the challenges to come. Thank goodness for the strong bonds this year’s class of 5280 Fellows formed early on. They would need determination and a spirit of togetherness to make it through the Zoom calls, outdoor gatherings, and socially distanced mentoring sessions that made their fellowship year a success in spite of the circumstances. Praise God for introducing us to the team at Unbridled, the event production company that shepherded us through BCG. Little did we know we would need their expertise to host three major online events over the next twelve months as they helped us expand from reaching a local to a global audience.
Scripture describes the ability to praise as something that is learned. Over the last year, God has graciously taught us to celebrate his work on our behalf.
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, LORD. They rejoice in your name all day long; they celebrate your righteousness. For you are their glory and strength….Psalm 89:15–17
Joanna serves as Denver Institute’s Director of Public Engagement, hosts the Faith & Work Podcast, and founded Women, Work, & Calling, a national initiative that disciples women for godly influence in public life. Prior to coming to the Institute, Joanna worked in global telecom, nonprofit consulting, and campus ministry with Cru. She served as associate faculty at Denver Seminary and as a sewing instructor at Fancy Tiger Crafts. A third-generation Coloradan, Joanna appreciates both the state’s innovative culture and its cowboy roots. She has an MA in Social Entrepreneurship from Bakke Graduate University and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She also completed a certificate of Women in Leadership through Cornell University.
She is the author of Women, Work, & Calling: Step Into Your Place in God’s World (IVP, Fall 2023) and is a contributor to the multi-author book, Women & Work: Bearing God’s Image and Joining in His Mission through our Work (B&H Publishing, Spring 2023).