Why I Started Denver Institute

Jeff Haanen

Dear friends,

I am often asked by friends and donors why I started Denver Institute for Faith & Work (DIFW) back in 2013. Seems like a strange ("esoteric" I've heard!) thing to do in the evenings while working a full-time job.

I generally answer, "I started DIFW because of three growing convictions in my heart about the mission of the church, Christian cultural involvement, and my own sense of calling."

First, I came to the theological conviction that work is critical to the mission of the church in the 21st century. After reading theologians like Lesslie Newbigin, John Stott, N.T. Wright, and Dorothy Sayers, I came to believe that work was essential to all-of-life discipleship, to bringing the good news of Jesus to every area of our secular culture, and to humbly serving the needs of our world, from providing jobs to refugees to composing sonatas that sooth the weary soul. The redemptive power of the cross and resurrection stretches to the very corners of the world.

Second, I came to believe that work is at the core of Christian cultural engagement. Both the values we bring to work and the products and services we make form the unspoken heart of our civilization. As go our businesses, hospitals, government institutions, schools, and workplaces, so goes our world. Work is also the way we express our human dignity, whether rich or poor, and the great engine of poverty alleviation worldwide. No need to wait until the next election to influence culture – the chance to shape it is staring us in the face every weekday morning.

Third, I had a growing sense of calling that the Triune God actually was telling me to start a new organization – one that ultimately would be a gift to him. In the past three years, I've heard dozens of stories of men and women – like Karla Nugent, Robin John, and Renise Walker – also responding to God's call in their professional lives. And the effects have been catalytic for communities around them. I asked: Could we build something in Colorado that might influence hundreds, even thousands, of lives?

As an educational nonprofit, we depend on the financial support of generous donors like you. As the year ends, I want to express to you my deep gratitude for your prayers and financial support. Every gift makes a difference in the lives of men and women we have the privilege of serving throughout the year. Join us in this work by making a financial contribution today. 

Please hear this: thank you. Grace upon grace, gift upon gift. Join me in deep gratitude for what the Father has provided each of us in 2016 – and where the resurrected Son of God will lead us.


Jeff Haanen

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.