Baylor’s motto, Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana—“For the church and for Texas”—is a tribute to the university’s historic commitment to being a place that nurtures students to view their education as a preparation for their own particular ways of responding to God’s summons on their lives. The Soundings Project aims to support the common work of the Christian university and the church, namely to help people lead lives of purpose and significance. To this end, Baylor will serve as an innovation hub for fifteen Texas congregations as the university and congregational leaders together reflect theologically and practically about the nature of vocation. Funded by the Lilly Endowment, Soundings offers Baylor an exciting opportunity to deepen and extend its mission, benefit from congregational wisdom, and form new, innovative partnerships to enhance the vitality of the university and the church.
We are all looking for meaning and purpose in our lives. We work hard at our jobs hoping to advance, but often advancement does not bring with it the contentment we seek. We spend lots of time around people or being active on social media, but often we still feel isolated. Even those of us who find our identity in Christ often have trouble seeing how the faith we practice on Sunday mornings has anything to do with what we do the rest of the week.
If we want to overcome these challenges, we must begin by returning to a biblical understanding of what it means that God is calling us—calling us to follow, to serve, and to live full lives. According to Scripture, our calling has to do with how we live every day in relationship to the God who calls us and to others. If we are to find the calling that gives meaning and purpose to our lives, our task is not to think only about what God wants us to do for a job but to think also about how God wants us to be Christ-like whatever our job.
The original word for the “church” (Greek, ekklēsia) actually meant the “called out ones.” Who we are to be and how we are to live as Christians—the primary vocational identity of every believer—requires an awareness and ever-deepening understanding of the God who calls us. For this reason, we have named the initiative “Soundings,” a word that connotates the life-long rhythm of hearkening to God’s manifold calls upon our lives and responding to them by sounding the depths of His being and purposes in the world.
Calling: To create mutually enriching partnerships with fifteen Texas congregations to reclaim and deepen a biblical understanding of calling.
Community: To strengthen and cultivate authentic, intergenerational communities, which become the context for exploring how God is calling individuals to lead lives of meaning and purpose.
Creativity: To serve fifteen congregations as an innovation hub where people explore how changing cultural dynamics are reshaping the opportunities and challenges of life and work, and how God might be calling them to respond.