SUNDAY RELIGION, MONDAY REALITY
New Study Explores Gap between God and Jobs
Dallas TX: Do faith and work mix? And if so, as America’s workforce increasingly wants meaning beyond a paycheck, do pastors help bring these two worlds together? Answers from national research commissioned by Dallas-based LeTourneau University’s Center for Faith & Work, are, “Yes,” but “Not enough.”
“We discovered that a vast majority of pastors say they want to help their members integrate faith and work,” Bill Peel, Center for Faith & Work executive director, said. “The bad news is that two-thirds of pastors admit their efforts fall short.”
But that’s not all the bad news. According to the surveys, only half of church-going working Americans view their work as important to God; they see faith and work as a separate departments. This is tragic—especially at a time when workplace satisfaction is at an all-time low
“From Genesis to Revelation, work is essential to human flourishing,” Peel said. “Pastors and pew populations typically esteem ‘church work’ over traditional business. But God doesn’t draw that line. Many people are surprised to learn that God considers their daily work just as significant as a pastor or missionary’s work. This instills value and importance to the work men and women do between Sundays. People work more, and better, when their labor carries a sense of calling. That’s something that most employers can’t give, and many pastors don’t.”
Integrating faith and work is vital for every Christian personally— but it’s critically important for the workplace as well. Many believe the economic debacle of 2008 was triggered by greed. “The financial crisis we’re still reeling from today is an example of what happens when greed is not tempered by the internal values faith can bring to one’s work,” Peel said. “Separating faith from work produces a less trusting, less productive and less meaningful workplace. Men and women who bring their faith to work are more productive, more ethical, and more tolerant of others.”
The Sunday-Monday gap emerges in data from two surveys commissioned by the Center and conducted by the Barna Group. Highlights:
- Nearly all (93 percent) pastors said helping people integrate faith into daily work is “very important”
- Only a third (32 percent) of those pastors claim an “excellent understanding” of workplace issues
- Half (49 percent) of churchgoing, employed Christians “strongly agree” that their church gives information, guidance, and support to live out faith at work
- 26 percent of pastors say their sermons address faith at work
- 8 percent of pastors provide prayer support for workplace issues
- 3 percent of pastors report that they visit their members at work
While almost half of church-going employees see their church as helpful, the performance gap admitted by pastors indicates that a sizable chasm still needs to be bridged between Sunday faith and Monday work.
Peel suggests one explanation for this gap is that pastors are not sure what to do. “It’s hard for busy pastors to add one more thing to their plate and one more program to the budget. But there are simple steps any pastor can take that don’t demand lots of time or money. That’s where the Center for Faith & Work can help.”
The Center for Faith & Work helps pastors and church leaders prepare people to live their faith in the workplace by providing resources, including curriculum, sermon content, conferences, research, and consulting. To learn more about how The Center for Faith & Work helps pastors close the Sunday-Monday gap, see church pages on the Center Website.
Founded in 2011, the Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University reflects the burgeoning “faith at work” movement to help the employed—and unemployed—find God beyond church doors. The Center’s website assembles resources for churches, students, and the global Christian community to equip and connect them to live out their faith in the workplace.
For interviews about the survey and solutions, contact janetragland@LETU.edu.