At the Lausanne Conference on World Evangelism in 2010, Mark Greene, Director of John Stott's London Institute for Contemporary Christianity outlined a significant problem stating: “The 98% of Christians are who are not in paid church work have never been envisioned or equipped for mission in 95% of their waking lives.”
James Davison Hunter voices his warning about this neglect in To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World. He writes, “When the church does not send people out to these realms and when it does not provide the theologies that make sense of work and engagement in these realms, the church fails to fulfill the charge to ‘go into all the world.”
Consider these reasons why pastors and church leaders must wade into this all too unfamiliar territory.
The Scope of Work
Working men and women spend 45 to 70 percent of their waking hours in work-related activities. The church must shepherd, support and equip them to walk with Christ in the dominant segment of their lives lest the workplace dominate their spiritual formation.
The workplace provides the greatest opportunity for Christians to express their God-given gifts and have a spiritual influence for God’s Kingdom. Christians in the workplace are:
Strategically deployed. Christians in the workforce are already strategically deployed in their "Jerusalem" (Acts 1:8) or mission field.
- Workplace "missionaries" are self-supporting vs. $80,000+/yr for a traditional missionary
Strategically connected. Studies show that 83 percent of adults come to Christ through the influence of a friend—and often it’s a friend from work. The potential for outreach and evangelism in the workplace is not paralleled.
- The scope of a church’s influence is not its Sunday attendance, but the sum total of its congregation’s relationships—most of which are with co-workers and colleagues (over 25 per person)
- 1000 Adults influenced for Christ on Sunday vs. 25,000 influenced for Christ Monday - Friday
The Potential for Cultural Influence
Our society is driven by values of the workplace—power, possession, and position—rather than justice, mercy and humility. Until Christians take their faith to work and challenge the culture of the workplace, a godless value system will continue to dominate our society.
The Focus of Scripture
The Bible speaks more about work than about formal worship. Work, in its different forms, is mentioned more than 800 times in the Bible. Seventy-five percent of the Bible’s heroes were employed in the workplace and much of the Bible’s teaching is workplace centered.
- Of the settings of Jesus’ 132 public appearances, 122 were in the workplace
- Of 37 different parables Jesus told, 32 had a workplace context
- Of 40 divine interventions recorded in Acts, 39 were in the workplace
- Jesus spent 90 percent of his life in a small business
- Jesus called 12 workplace individuals, not clergy, to build His church
What Christian Leaders Say
Billy Graham - "I believe one of the next great moves of God is going to be through believers in the workplace."
Bill Pollard, Chairman, ServiceMaster - "In today’s global community, the greatest channel of distribution for “salt and light” is the business community . . . the marketplace."
Peter Wagner -"Societal transformation is high on God’s agenda and the chief catalytic force to bring it about will be Christians ministering in the marketplace."
Henry Blackaby - "God is marshalling his people in the workplace as never before in history. God is up to something. The next spiritual awakening could take place in the marketplace."
George Barna - "Workplace Ministry will be one of the core future innovations in church ministry."