CFW Blog Author - Tim Watson
For Christians to be effective in fulfilling the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20, churches need to create a workplace-friendly culture that honors and encourages the work of men and women in the workforce. Here are ways to create such an environment in your church.
- Schedule time for testimonies from workplace heroes in worship services.
- Offer pastoral and congregational prayers for men and women in the workplace.
- Show videotaped or live interviews of workplace heroes sharing stories of how Christ is impacting their places of employment.
- Acknowledge workplace heroes at special times during the year, like Labor Day or Administrative Professionals Day (celebrated on Wednesday of the last week of April).
- Create a commissioning service in which church members are prayed for, commissioned, and sent out into their workplaces with the affirmation and prayers of the congregation.
- Have pastors and staff show their interest and offer encouragement by visiting the workplaces of parishoners and asking how the church can better equip them to be ambassadors for Christ.
- Launch “Take your Pastor to Work Day” to help pastors better understand the challenges people face daily in the workplace.
Your church may be known for its friendliness on Sunday mornings—but make sure it’s friendly to the men and women who are God’s workplace heroes all during the week.
How can your church show friendliness to workplace heros? Anything you would add to the list?Tags:
Recently, a LeTourneau University staff member was shopping at a Longview furniture store and struck up a conversation with the owner. Happy to learn about his customer’s faith and connection to the university, the owner shared about how he enjoys traveling around the region with his father-in-law who is an itinerant minister. “When I travel with him to churches,” he commented, “people assume that I’m a minister as well. But I’m always quick to tell them, ‘I’m not a minister. I am just a Christian who owns a furniture store.’”
Maybe the comment, “I am just a Christian who owns a furniture store,” seems harmless to you—and even familiar. You may not have articulated your thoughts like he did, but have you ever said to yourself, “I’m just an entrepreneur,” “I’m just an engineer,” or “I’m just a school teacher?”
For the Kingdom of God to advance and the Great Commission to be fulfilled, those of us who are Christ-followers need to remove the word “just” from our vocabulary when we discuss our role in the Kingdom of God. Sometimes we are guilty of thinking that God views His servants on a spiritual ladder. Missionaries are at the top rung. Then come preachers, pastors and other full-time vocational ministers. Further down the ladder are the rest of us who are just accountants, office workers, sales managers or students. This mentality runs counter to biblical mandates about connecting our faith in Christ to our vocation.
The vision statement of LeTourneau University reads, “Claiming every workplace in every nation as our mission field, LeTourneau University graduates are professionals of ingenuity and Christ-like character who see life’s work as a holy calling with eternal impact.”
If all of us could get this vision embedded into our DNA, just think how our workplaces could be transformed by the power of God. Instead of dark places filled with people whose values are totally different than ours, what would happen if we committed ourselves to being the hands, feet and presence of Christ to non-believing co-workers for whom Jesus died? If we got serious about seeing our life’s work as a holy calling with eternal impact, we could never go to work on Monday morning with the same attitude. If we made a commitment to see our workplace as our mission field, we could never say, “I’m just a _________ (you fill in the blank).
You are not in your workplace by chance, accident or coincidence. You were put there by God and bless those around you by offering them the hope they so desperately need and can only be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
When was the last time you heard someone say, “I’m just a _____________?” How could you encourage people to see just how important their work is to God?
Several times during the year, churches I served would send people on short-term mission trips to work with orphans in Mexico, or fix up dilapidated houses in New Orleans, or serve in medical and dental clinics in Ethiopia.
Before each trip, mission-trip participants would come to the front of the church, and we would offer a “Prayer of Commissioning” to remind the congregation that we were sending these individuals out as God’s representatives to these specific mission points. That is all commendable.
But here’s a question: As a pastor, have you considered commissioning church members to be missionaries in their places of employment? It’s likely that many in your congregation don’t participate in short-term mission trips, however, every day they enter the greatest mission field of all: Their workplace.
Peter makes it clear that every Christian is a priest (1 Peter 2:9) and Paul reminds us that we’re all Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). If we believe the Scripture, then wouldn’t it make sense to “commission” our members as Christ’s representative and missionaries in their workplaces?
A few examples: One Sunday you might ask physicians, dentists, nurses, technicians and other healthcare professionals to s in the healthcare field to come forward for commissioning. Thank God for using them to heal us and oversee our physical well-being. Another Sunday you can commission entrepreneurs and business owners. Ask God to help their businesses become more than just a place for financial transactions, but entities that provide quality goods and services, employment for families, and help the community flourish.
The Sunday before school starts in the fall, commission the all the educators and students as God’s representatives on their respective campuses. Thank God for the knowledge He has given us, and ask that He make us good stewards of learning. Visualize all the different professions in your congregations—law enforcement officers, firefighters, farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, sales professionals, restaurateurs and contractors—and have a commissioning service for them.
Recognizing these dedicated Christ-followers as ambassadors for Christ in their workplaces will help fulfill the Great Commission. Believers will go to their jobs with a renewed sense of purpose and meaning, and Christ will be exalted.
What do you think? What occasion can you use to celebrate and commission your members to their workplace mission field?
For an idea of how to conduct a workplace commissioning service see our Workplace Commissioning Litergy.
Pastors, Don’t Get Caught Living In The Ivory Tower: Rub Shoulders With Your Church Members In Their Workplace.Posted Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 15:17
One of my parishioners was one of the most Christ-like employers I’ve ever met. Tom was co-owner of an oil and gas well service company that employed approximately 100 people. He was not only involved in and supportive of our church, but really wanted to make a spiritual difference in his workplace.
One day Tom invited me to attend his annual employee Thanksgiving luncheon, an event held in a large metal building located on the company’s property. There I sat among men and women of different races, socio-economic backgrounds and cultures. A few mid-managers were included in the crowd, but mostly roughnecks with grease under their fingernails were seated at the tables.
As I observed Tom offer his employees hugs, handshakes and gentle pats on the back, it was clear they loved and respected him. Not only was Tom an excellent employer who met a financial need in the lives of his workers, but he understood that his oil and gas well servicing company was his very own mission field and a place of ministry.
Tom had shared with me on more than one occasion that the many hours his employees worked in the oil patch put extra stress on his workers and their families. To help in this area, Tom and his co-owner Dan built extra money into their operating budget to allow employees access to professional counseling when personal and family stressors arose. Tom also enlisted the services of many competent ministers in the area to act as company chaplains. They would counsel, encourage and invest in the lives of Tom’s employees, performing important rites of passage for them, such as conducting weddings, funerals and rendered pastoral care during an employee’s illness. Being present for these workers at such critical junctures in their lives opened doors for future ministry opportunities.
I was invited to several functions by this caring church member who saw his workplace as his mission field. I must admit, there were times when I was extremely busy with my own ministry’s “To Do” lists, and wanted to spend my time doing the things on my agenda. However, I now see that the best stewardship of my time was attending those luncheons at his place of business.
The benefits were many. I got to see and hear about Tom’s challenges that he faced on a daily basis in trying to run a business from a Christian perspective. I witnessed firsthand the Holy Spirit at work in the lives of some of the roughest people in a difficult industry, due mostly to the spiritual tone set by the company’s owners. I felt that I was in a better position to minister to Tom as a church member because I was willing to get out and rub shoulders with him in his workplace environment.
Today, I encourage pastors and ministers to take time away from their computers, and make a commitment to regularly go into the workplaces of their church members. It will not only encourage those church members, it will pay immeasurable dividends to pastors and ministers, as well.
Have you invited your pastor to visit your workplace? If you're a pastor, have you visited a church member’s workplace? What did you learn?
Who are you most inclined to share the Gospel message with? A stranger or someone with whom you have a relationship? What about your church members? Are they more comfortable doing cold-call evangelism or talking about faith with co-workers they see every day in the cubicles around them.
Equipping people to live out their faith in the workplace is an important strategy for fulfilling the Great Commission.
Here are some practical things church leaders can do:
Spend time at a church member’s workplace.
Use workplace situations in sermon illustrations.
Commission people for their jobs.
Show your members you care by finding out what they do when they're on the job.
Interview people about the work they do during the worship service.
Ask, “What do you do? What are some challenges and opportunities of your job? How can our church support you?”
Lead a small group of people in the same line of work (vocational groups) to meet regularly to pray and solve workplace challenges together.
Don’t give answers—just facilitate group communication as they discuss various challenges.
What are you doing at your church to equip people to live out their faith in the workplace? Let us know so that others can benefit.Tags:
For 25 years I had the privilege of pastoring churches ranging in membership from 35 to 2000. If God allowed do-overs, as a pastor I would be more intentional about equipping people to live out their faith in the workplace.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve always been passionate about sharing the gospel. I taught countless classes on evangelism—propositional approaches like Evangelism Explosion, relationship evangelism models, and everything in between—so my parishioners would feel confident sharing their faith. But, like many pastors, I overlooked an important aspect of helping people fulfill the Great Commission. I didn’t teach them how to be ambassadors for Christ in their workplace—a huge mission field where they spend the bulk of their time.
Think about it: Average American workers spend approximately 79,120 hours of their life in the workplace and only 8,600 in church activities. Doesn’t it make sense to equip Christians to take the love of Christ to work and ask God to use them in the lives of people who are searching, hurting and in need of Christ’s love? I just wish I had realized this sooner.
Pastor, how are you helping people live out their faith in the workplace?Tags: