Earlier this fall The Gospel Coalition launched a new faith and work initiative, Every Square Inch, directed by entrepreneur and writer Bethany Jenkins. Every Square Inch aims to help local churches leaders and ordinary Christians alike to see every aspect of their lives, especially their work, under the lordship of Christ. Jenkins received her JD from Columbia Law School and founded The Park Forum, a nonprofit that seeks to plant urban professional Christians in the Bible daily. Originally from Florida, Jenkins has spent the past ten years in New York City, where she attends Redeemer Presbyterian Church. I corresponded with Jenkins about her new role at TGC, what inspired it, and what she and other TGC staff hope to accomplish with this new initiative.
What does your new role at TGC entail?
I'm thankful for Ben Peays and Collin Hansen, who lead TGC and its editorial team with an entrepreneurial spirit that enables all of us to have broad parameters within which to fulfill our roles. In directing Every Square Inch, I hope to feature practitioner stories (like illustrator Amanda Geisinger), to focus on faith and work at industry levels, and to publish thoughtful writers under our new Crossway imprint.
The title of the initiative is intriguing. What inspired “Every Square Inch”?
“Every Square Inch” is a reference to Abraham Kuyper's famous quote, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”
What is the goal of the initiative?
The goal of Every Square Inch is set forth in TGC's Theological Vision of Ministry, concerning the integration of faith and work:
The good news of the Bible is not only individual forgiveness but the renewal of the whole creation. God put humanity in the garden to cultivate the material world for his own glory and for the flourishing of nature and the human community. The Spirit of God not only converts individuals (e.g., John 16:8) but also renews and cultivates the face of the earth (e.g., Gen 1:2; Psalm 104:30). Therefore Christians glorify God not only through the ministry of the Word, but also through their vocations of agriculture, art, business, government, scholarship—all for God's glory and the furtherance of the public good. Too many Christians have learned to seal off their faith-beliefs from the way they work in their vocation. The gospel is seen as a means of finding individual peace and not as the foundation of a worldview—a comprehensive interpretation of reality affecting all that we do. But we have a vision for a church that equips its people to think out the implications of the gospel on how we do carpentry, plumbing, data-entry, nursing, art, business, government, journalism, entertainment, and scholarship. Such a church will not only support Christians' engagement with culture, but will also help them work with distinctiveness, excellence, and accountability in their trades and professions. Developing humane yet creative and excellent business environments out of our understanding of the gospel is part of the work of bringing a measure of healing to God's creation in the power of the Spirit. Bringing Christian joy, hope, and truth to embodiment in the arts is also part of this work. We do all of this because the gospel of God leads us to it, even while we recognize that the ultimate restoration of all things awaits the personal and bodily return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Why do you believe this is important for TGC and evangelicalism?
On Sunday, the church is “the gathered church.” We worship together, we partake in communion together, and we hear the preaching of the Word together. This community is essential: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8), and, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together” (Hebrews 10:24-25). From Monday to Saturday, however, we are “the scattered church.” We work: “Six days you shall labor, and do all your work” (Exodus 20:9). Work, therefore, is one of our greatest opportunities to love our neighbors—to create culture for the common good, to be honest and excellent in our projects, and to share the reason for the hope that we have.
Who is this initiative geared to/for?
Every Square Inch has two audiences: (1) pastors who want to be better equipped in their theology of work, and (2) practitioners who want to re-imagine their own work in light of the gospel.
Besides this important work at TGC, you also run a nonprofit. Tell us about The Park Forum.
The Park Forum, founded in 2009, is a New York based nonprofit that seeks to plant the urban church in the Word daily by creating daily devotionals and hosting Bible listening events. It gets its name from our tagline: “As the Park Is to the City so the Word Is to Life.” Our daily devotional blog is called “843 Acres,” which is the size of Central Park.
Along with your other work, you are working on a book. What is it about?
I am working on my first book project, Having All That Matters, which is a faith-based contribution to the lean-in/have-it-all discussion.
Does the book have much connection with your new role with TGC?
It does not have a direct connection, but I am asking a lot of the same questions that Every Square Inch will consider, e.g., What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to work? What is the meaning of success?
What do you hope readers will walk away with after reading your book?
I hope they walk away with a robust understanding of self-giving love as the primary virtue and, ideally, that the embodiment of that type of love is Jesus.
Where can we find Every Square Inch?
As we build content, articles will be tagged “faith and work.” Eventually, we plan to build a more robust online home for the initiative within TGC's platform.
Editors' note: You can read Jenkins' first article for TGC on “How to Humanize the Workplace.”