Scientists at Church! Cultivating Churches that Welcome and Nurture Scientists
As a pastor, geographer, and educator I have asked myself the questions:
- How can a church create a nurturing environment and supportive community for those interested in, studying, or working in the sciences?
- What are some best practices for how can churches encourage, support, value, and be enriched by scientists?
Many Christians love, study, and work in the sciences but struggle to connect with a church. The perception by some churches and church people that science and faith are in conflict – even mutually exclusive – creates real tension for students and professionals in the sciences. They may not perceive churches to be safe, supportive communities where they will be welcomed and appreciated and where they can wrestle with their issues, discuss their research, and celebrate their successes.
Churches want to minister to all people, but often struggle to connect with scientists. For some churches church people the assumption that there is inherent conflict between science and Christian faith means scientists are viewed with suspicion, even hostility. Or scientists (or people interested in the sciences) need to be convinced to adopt a particular interpretation of Scripture in order to be truly Christian.
In my research I have interviewed Christians who are scientists (those who have and have not found supportive churches), interviewed pastors of churches ministering with scientifically minded people, and sought to identify ways that congregations can support and encourage scientists. I have tried to identify best practices of churches that effectively and positively engage scientists.
To begin the conversation, here are the various topics I (continue to) investigate:
- Science and Faith: Context
- Science and Faith: A Brief History
- Science and Faith: Resources (from a positive perspective)
- Scientists and Faith: Resources
- Scientists and Faith: Vocation, Calling, and Faith
- Church and Scientists: Who? What? Where?
- Scientists and Church: First Things
- Scientists and Church: Blessings
- Scientists and Church: Challenges
- Scientists and Church: Opportunities
My research is ongoing as I continue to have conversations with and interview scientists, church leaders, and colleagues.
I am thankful for sabbatical time from my congregation and a Pastoral Study Project Grant from the Louisville Institute to support my research.