I often imagine what collective impact between business leaders, churches, government, nonprofits and ministries might look like. What would it look like for us partner together to make a permanent, generational impact on American society?
When it comes to work, in many ways, our society is hemorrhaging. The labor participation rate for men age 24-55 is at its lowest point since the Great Depression; 10 million men are either unemployed or looking for work; today there are 70 million Americans with a criminal background, many of whom can’t find a good job due to their past.
What if the Christian business leaders we all know decided to hire the millions of men and women with barriers to employment? Could the Church step up to meet a critical need – and develop the knowledge, best practices, and vision for loving our neighbors through good jobs?
This is a big task – maybe too big. But I feel like things are changing.
TC Johnstone, a friend and filmmaker, has done an incredible new documentary that gives us a beautiful, compelling case for doing just this.
In the first episode of “DealMakers”, a new documentary series, he highlights Pete Ochs, the founder of Capital III an impact investing company “committed to social, spiritual and economic transformation.” The film tells the story of Pete’s journey to starting a manufacturing company…inside a maximum-security prison.
Here’s how TC describes the film, Pete Ochs, A Triple Bottom Line Business. “Pete had a crazy idea. What would happen if we put a manufacturing business inside a maximum-security prison, pay employees fair market wages, and help them find their purpose? What started out as a crazy idea turned into reform, relationships, profit and ultimately transformed lives.”
Though Pete is wonderful in the film, it’s Louie Gutierrez, who spent 25 years behind bars, who really shines. Pete gave Louie another chance through employment; Louie gave Pete a renewed purpose for his own work.
You may want to think about screening the film in your church, business or home. If you’re a leader, you might think about having Pete and Louie come and share at a conference or event. Pete not only hits all the theological essentials in the story, but their story of learning from each other is just as powerful.
This film is an excellent illustration of the real-life impact that all this conversation about faith and work can have on real lives. I commend this film to you and those in your church or business. (For $25 off the price of a screening, use the discount just code: DIFW, and click on this link: www.dealmakersfilms.com )
I believe the “good jobs” conversation is the natural intersection between Christians who care about justice and those who care about work in America today. I also believe stories of redemptive employment can galvanize Christians in positions of influence to have deep spiritual, social and cultural impact on a society in need of grace…especially from the church.
To use Louie’s words: “I tell you what, I’m not super religious. But if I were to ever say that I met a Christian in my life, it’s more than definitely Pete.”
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This post was published September 28, 2017
Jeff Haanen is a writer and entrepreneur. He founded Denver Institute for Faith & Work, a community of conveners, teachers and learners offering experiences and educational resources on the gospel, work, and community renewal. He is the author of An Uncommon Guide to Retirement: Finding God’s Purpose for the Next Season of Life and an upcoming two-book series on spiritual formation, vocation, and the working class for Intervarsity Press. He lives with his wife and four daughters in Denver and attends Wellspring Church in Englewood, Colorado.