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Five Problems That Are Killing the “Faith in the Workplace” Movement

January 4, 2010

In recent years there have been noble attempts by many Christian authors, consultants and advisors to address an issue that any dope-head could see had an unquestionably huge market potential: that of helping Christians integrate their faith with their jobs. Think about it – all those Christian worker-bees out there, churning away in soul-less organizations while their spiritual lives wither away to dust!  What a ripe market to tap in to! And really, is there any one of us who couldn’t use a healthy dose of spiritual support and encouragement at our jobs?

But I am afraid that although the “Faith in the Workplace” phrase has firmly established itself in the mainstream lexicon, it has not really caught on in the larger scheme of things in corporate America, other than perhaps as a novelty item or an eccentric point of curiosity. Oh, don’t get me wrong – there are certainly many legitimate organizations out there beating the Faith in the Workplace drum who are offering thoughtful content, on-site bible studies, marketplace ministries, and the like. I applaud them for it.  And the press does a token article on the subject every now and then.  

But, here’s where I’m coming from:  I have spent the last twenty years navigating a healthy career path through a maze of corporate organizations, bosses and workplaces. And when I square that experience off with a fairly in-depth review of the available resources that fall under the “Faith in the Workplace” banner, I find some gaps that may be hindering the movement rather than moving it forward.

1. It’s Not Very Marketable. 

This is our first problem, and it’s a big one. Can’t we come up with a better, more alluring name for this than “Faith in the Workplace?” Perhaps something with the word “Investing!” in it, or maybe “Profits” or even “Leadership?” It’s just that the word “Faith” is not very accessible to the masses in the corporate world. In fact, “Faith” may very well be an alarm call to run in the opposite direction, since the blatant expression of faith in the workplace is still a questionable practice. Therefore, most people will unfortunately respond to this particular term with some degree of apprehension.

I don’t care how you slice it, the greater marketplace just does not get the idea of mixing faith with work, so we must slip in the back door somehow. Maybe someone should hire a PR firm to come up with a better name. I like the phrasing coined by the folks at InsideWork: “Spiritual Engagement at Work.”

2. Dial Down the Church-Talk!

Why is it that so many over-churched Christians insist on talking in a completely different language than what we use every day at work? The vast majority of books, Blogs, and ministries devoted to Faith in the Workplace are all speaking the same secret code-language of the Evangelical Christian sub-culture. Just because someone is entrenched in a white, conservative, Baptist suburban church doesn’t mean that all the other spiritually-inclined Christians in business are going to share that same particular background. I’m sorry, but I have never, ever used words like “Equip,” “Minister,” “Glorify” or “Saint” at work when talking about my spiritual life. Yet the typical content of most Faith in the Workplace material is brimming with this obtuse Christianeze language that is absolutely foreign, standoff-ish and completely irrelevant for a business setting.

If Faith in the Workplace efforts are to be effective, they have got to start with the use of language that is relevant and familiar to the world of business and management.

3. Dumbed Down Content.

This may come as a shock and surprise to some of you, but not every business issue can be solved with a cute three-point vignette tagged with a bible verse. Much of the Faith in the Workplace content out there today takes an overly simplistic approach towards business issues in their desperate attempts to provide scriptural “answers” to every possible situation. Instead of acknowledging that there are gray areas, ambiguity, periods of doubt and uncertainty, many will try to force-fit bible lessons into the highly complex issues that leaders face in the corporate world. The result is a less-than-credible appearance of spitting out 3rd grade Sunday School lessons to an audience of highly educated, sophisticated and (literally) worldly managers.  It doesn’t work.

For example, I recently attended a Christian Business Conference where the speaker’s handout for the session was nothing more than a list of sentences (regurgitated directly from her motivational speech) interspersed with blanks, where the audience was supposed to fill in the answers as she delivered her searing insights. As I looked down at this sheet of “notes” during her presentation, I was thinking, “What? Does she think I’m an idiot?” It not only insulted my intelligence, it was downright embarrassing.  An audience of seasoned, educated business men and women can not be addressed as if they are teenagers attending a youth retreat. Jesus himself didn’t give us fill-in-the-blank answers to every challenge that came up. And when he did speak in simplistic terms, it came off as profound, not dumb.

4. Preaching to the Choir.

This is my biggest frustration of all. Sure, all of us well-fed Christians can always use the encouragement and the motivation that comes with work-faith ministries, but for God’s sake – what about everybody else? What about the seekers, and those alumni who no longer attend church, and all of those who are still on the journey, but may not immediately identify with Evangelical Christianity? What about all of those who don’t fall into the catch-all category of Protestant Evangelical? Why can’t we reach out and acknowledge the legitimate spiritual lives of those folks, too?

I believe there is a broader application of God’s message to be heard other than just to certain well-worn brands of Christians.  It’s as if the work-faith organizations don’t know how to reach into corporate America effectively, so they take the easiest path – just keep reaching into the Christian demographic we know and love so well, those easy targets who are suckers for anything with a fish symbol and a cross pasted on it. Some Christian organizations have become far too obsessed with cloning their own versions of themselves.

5. Targeting the Workplace as a Stomping Ground for Evangelism.

People do not want to be solicited, evangelized, or converted – at work, or anywhere else for that matter. When was the last time you were happy to receive a telemarketing call during dinner? You may think that God’s work won’t get done without you, but think about it: NO ONE wants to be paved over by a one-sided opinionated religious person talking about their “right” and “only” way. That approach may have worked in the 1950’s, but it doesn’t play well among today’s more sophisticated, diverse and progressive culture in corporate America.

What people do want, however, is to be loved, respected, and valued right where they are. That is the first step to winning trust, which then leads to real relationships and then honest, vulnerable conversations about (among other things) spiritual life. We can not have influence over people without earning it.

—————————————————

So if these are the problems, what then is the best path to bringing faith and spirituality into the workplace in a positive and productive manner? I haven’t exactly figured that out yet, but believe me, I’m working on it.

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33 Comments leave one →
  1. January 4, 2010 8:21 pm

    Whoa! It’s Brad the Evangelist! (That’s my poor attempt at humor.)

    1. It’s not marketable. Not only is it not marketable in the work place, it’s been my own experience that it’s not marketable to most Christians in the work place, who seem to have no problem drawing the line between faith and work.

    2. Church talk – code language – Christian jargon — whatever we call it, it’s as much a turn-off as business jargon is.

    3. Dumbed-down business content doesn’t work, either. The 7 Highly Effective thises or the moveable cheese thats — it sells books but doesn’t solve real problems.

    4. Outreach is not discipleship. The choir needs to sing, not have its needs ministered to.

    5. Nothing raises more interest that doing and being. People watch your actions far more than your words. And you have to do and be the gospel at work just like every other part of life.

    Great post!

  2. January 4, 2010 8:40 pm

    i would like to hear more about experiences of people just “living” their faith in the workplace.

    when a person of faith has chosen to conduct themselves in a way that is living it out.

    choices that are not always easy or savy, yet, show faith in the living.

    i don’t want to hear about what people of faith should do in the work place, but, what people have done in staying true to and living the faith that they hold to.

    and what they have done after they have made choices that have shown otherwise.

    “living it… in the workplace”

    n.

  3. January 4, 2010 8:50 pm

    This is why you rock.

  4. January 4, 2010 9:34 pm

    I tried to leave a comment earlier. I guess the system got a hiccup.

    For me, Glynn’s “doing and being” and nancy’s “living it” are what exemplify “faith” or “spiritual engagement” in the workplace. What you do and how you are: both are choices.

    Nomenclature will always be problematic. One can use the term faith, religion, spiritual engagement, anything; that term is meaningless unless lived out through doing and being.

    Stories people understand in ways they never understand an institutionalized concept. What you do and how you are create stories that get around.

    Law prevents institutionalization of faith in the workplace, as it should. We don’t need faith or spiritual engagement to be institutionalized to demonstrate it in any aspect of life, including worklife.

  5. donkimrey permalink
    January 4, 2010 10:01 pm

    You know I always enjoy your work. And your friends. I got one on you though. One of my latest respondents was an unlikely sexmaniacs.com. He/she/it made reference to John Newton, a libertine, agnostic, h-raising agnostic, slave trader who, upon conversion wrote Amazing gRace. S/M left his/her/its link and it was legit…or illegit! I opted not to post the comment or the link back to s/m’s site. A bit raunchy, even for my tastes!

    Keep up your good work, Brad. God is using your efforts in way you cannot at this point imagine. don

  6. Melo permalink
    January 4, 2010 10:33 pm

    All of the above.

    I haven’t read much on Faith in the Workplace. I’ve heard Christianeze all my life, but I don’t speak it. I do have to be fluent in it to communicate with some in my family. I don’t speak of my own personal faith unless asked. I do use words like faith and hope, but mostly when writing for myself, not when working with others. I think faith and hope and love are like muscles, and they get lots of exercise at work, same as home. Expressions of faith in others is very welcome, and very needed in any workplace. Believing in each other gets a lot more done, than not believing in each other, though it is very hard sometimes.

    Living it out… may be what you are doing, or trying to do, but it is not necessarily visible if you are working in a two or three sided environment, or where values differ even slightly – and I would think most workplaces are like that. Even the church is like that. Two or more can be very devoted to a set of values, even Christian ones, and still be completely unable to truly work together – because they interpret those values differently, because they don’t appreciate differences in personality or how others work. Someone once told me I was the most unpolitical person they’d ever met. She saw that, not everyone sees that. Support of everyone on staff can be seen as traitorous in some environments. Someone who will dismiss me if I love another they feel is undeserving will not see the love and support they are also receiving. Depending on our expectations, we simply may not see a person who is trying to live, be and do with all of his or her heart.

    Okay, I just started to ramble. Will close.

    Thanks for this.

    • January 5, 2010 6:10 am

      I hope you come by and ramble more often! These are some very important points, how living your faith out can sometimes actually become confusing. There are so many layers and situations, it’s not cut and dry. Life, even spiritual life, can get complicated.

      I love your analogy that faith and hope are like muscles – we must keep working out!

  7. January 4, 2010 10:54 pm

    It’s been 16 years since I was employed in a government office, and 25 since I was employed in the corporate workplace. So perhaps I’m a bit naive. I’ll still stick my neck out (I do that anyway).

    I’ve never understood the notion that “go out into all the world and make disciples” meant being always ready with a quick draw of a tract or Four Spiritual Laws or asking someone if they know where they’re going when they die. My “workplace” now as Christ’s ambassador is simply everywhere I tread.

    I don’t think I engage in person the Christianese I lapse into on my blog. [My blog is largely a Christian audience that already speaks the language, so I neither intentionally engage it nor shy away from it there.] I just go out and meet people wherever they are and display light. I don’t go out of my way to speak of spiritual matters, nor do I hesitate to interject them if it’s a natural part of the conversation.

    And this is my experience: People somehow pick up on the fact that I’m a Christian. They’re comfortable with my outgoing, easygoing manner. When they’re troubled, even relative strangers seem willing to ask me for prayer or share about a crisis. I’ve been amazed at the doors the Lord opens for me to share matters of faith.

    Whether it’s faith in the workplace or faith in the marketplace, I fail to see why it requires anything more than us growing in Christ, then displaying the light of Christ which should come naturally. If I’m “marketing” Christianity, I’m doing it the same way I market my car or my clothes, by simply wearing and using them in public in an appealing manner. I’m “all things to all people that I might win some,” but I’m still just being me.

    Again, maybe I’m naive, but I’m a bit confounded by why it seems difficult for co-workers to be “loved, respected, and valued right where they are” by real life, fallible Christians who are simply being Jesus cloaked in their own personalities.

  8. January 5, 2010 4:17 am

    You sure got 5 points here Bradley! I kind of agree with you on all points, but it’s #4 that got me really thinking:

    To me it feels that I should address the choir because they somehow believe they can only sing in church. This Sacred-Secular Divide works through all christianity, Evangelical or not.
    Somehow we think we must leave our faith at the front door when we enter the office.

    You certainly have a point about all those seekers, alumni etc. but in my experience they fear away of the word “faith”. Which you mentioned in #1 too.

    So, let’s stop preaching to the choir our 5 step guides on evangelizing your faith in the workplace and start loving one another, right? 😉

  9. January 5, 2010 6:07 am

    I believe we are reaching a consensus- around “living it out” as opposed to finding some neat little package for presenting it to people. However, I do agree with Glynn and Leon that there is still a gap in many people’s minds where they tend to compartmentalize their faith from their career/work life. They forget that God actually cares about work. But my goal would be to help and encourage folks to reveal the work of God right in the midst of the sales, spreadsheets and services. Yes, it all comes down to our own individual commitment to spiritual growth, and living it out each and every day.

    Thanks for all these comments and reactions.

  10. January 5, 2010 9:19 am

    Wow. That was awesome. I’m totally with you. I can’t tell you how many times I, the pastor, have been embarassed in public by some over-eager Christian wanting to talk religion with me (in mixed company) and he uses this totally lame vocabulary that I don’t even relate to.

    The problem is Christians think the church has an image problem, but they never think that the image problem could ever start with themselves.

  11. January 5, 2010 9:54 am

    Bradley, I didn’t respond yesterday because this one raised too many complex feelings for me.

    Here’s the first thing, regarding marketing and christianese:

    In my opinion “Spiritual Engagement at Work” has the same problem “Faith in the Workplace” has. It’s too long to be a good handle. And spiritual engagement doesn’t seem like it is going to raise any fewer alarm bells than faith. But maybe I’m just feeling grumpy today.

    In some ways, I think the Servant Leadership movement started back in the 70s accomplished a bit of what you are suggesting here. Rather than talk about faith integration at work, Greenlief talked about leadership from the perspective of his personal faith.

    Similarly, Parker Palmer has spent his entire life trying to find language to share how his faith informs his teaching. This is no small task you are describing.

    • January 6, 2010 6:44 am

      Great examples Marcus, with Parker Palmer and Geenlief. I guess you would have to say the even the ubiquitous leadership gurus like Stephen Covey and John Maxwell do the same thing – They speak of spiritual truths and principles without necessarily dropping “religious” associations, which makes it applicable to everyone. However, it does miss out on encouraging individuals to assess their own place in a relationship with God.

  12. January 5, 2010 10:04 am

    Regarding your last two points.

    First, I’m about as deep in this as a person could get. I edit a emagazine call “FaithInTheWorkplace.com” after all.

    I think it isn’t fair to say these groups are merely preaching to the choir because it is easier. We are preaching to the choir because the choir is the most guilty! They are the ones who help perpetuate this idea that church work is different from regular work.

    There is a very simple reason for this. Pastors are trained in church work. It is the work they know. It is the work they talk about. It is the work they inherently value over other work in the same way that I value my own work over other work. I chose the work I do because I value it. Not sure if that makes sense.

    This is a constant constant problem for me as I try to find writers for TheHighCalling.org, and yes, FaithInTheWorkplace.com. If I tell the good writers to write about their work, they send me essays about the difficulties of writer’s block. I’ve started telling them in a tongue-in-cheek way that “the high calling of our daily work” doesn’t include the life of the writer.

    Finding language that is relevant and familiar to the world of business means we need to find people who have experienced the world of business. Unfortunately, most of them are really good at business and really bad at writing. You are a rare bird, Bradley.

    I’m done now. This should have been a more thoughtful response on highcallingblogs.com or my own blog. Oh well.

    • January 6, 2010 6:52 am

      Marcus – Your perspective is unique here, as so far you are the only one commenting who actually is in the “faith in the workplace” line of business!

      Yes, you do have a point about the preaching to the choir. Most Christians are not making that connection, including me when I started this Blog, and we need the encouragement to connect God to our work. But the thing I was getting at here is that there are others out there in the workplace who also need to be reached out to in a spiritual manner, that may not fit the typical demographic mold of “Evangelical Christian.” And they all struggle to various degrees with work, career, identity, etc. just like you and I do. I believe we need to approach this subject with a broader brush, to be more inclusive with our outreach. Just like social ministries, who don’t only serve the Christians in need – they serve everybody!

      Oh, and BTW, (file this one under “eating your words”) yesterday I heard two people use the word “equip” in a business setting. Maybe it’s not such a church-word after all. I take that word back!

  13. January 5, 2010 10:19 am

    It’s funny…in my mind it just boils down to this: live your life the way Jesus lived His. Simple, authentic, relevant, and balanced.

    Awesome post Bradley!

  14. Dan King permalink
    January 5, 2010 1:29 pm

    LOVE this Bradley!

    I’ve been studying church history lately, and have realized that it wasn’t until about the Renaissance that people’s spirituallity became ‘separate’ from their daily lives.

    I think that this idea has huge implications in the workplace. Faith in the workplace indicates that it is something separate that we bring in, when in reality it should be just who we are no matter where we are at. But with that said, there should be a strong warning against alienating people. Some of my greatest success with reaching people in the workplace has come while just being the kind of person that Christ teaches me to be.

    Great stuff dude! Thanks!

    • January 5, 2010 3:35 pm

      Hey Dan, the Sacred-Secular Divide (see my earlier comment) finds its origin in the Greek dualistic world view. In this world view the spiritual is separated from the natural and the spiritual is “higher” and “better” than the natural. This Greek thinking dominated the early centuries and somehow made its way into our Christian lives and churches.

      I think the separation of people’s spirituality from their daily lives in the Renaissance is caused by this Greek dualistic thinking.

      • January 6, 2010 6:54 am

        Leon – This is good historical info that really does set the stage for the great “Church-Work” divide. There is quite a bit written on this- Os Guinness has written a book or two discussing this (“The Calling” is one I can think of)

  15. January 5, 2010 2:30 pm

    oooooo…. these made me chuckle:

    ” In fact, ”Faith” may very well be an alarm call to run in the opposite direction”

    ” I’m sorry, but I have never, ever used words like “Equip,” “Minister,” “Glorify” or “Saint” at work when talking about my spiritual life.”

    “not every business issue can be solved with a cute three-point vignette tagged with a bible verse.”

    I enjoy your humor! Sometimes, the best way to evangelize, that is bring Faith into the workplace, is simply to listen. Yes, the ‘L’ word that isn’t Love. It’s not a 5 point presentation but it is the best way to meet someone where they’re at… It’s what He does for us too, right?? Meets us where we’re at?

    I know, listening doesn’t sell either, but one by one, the job gets done!

  16. January 5, 2010 3:46 pm

    the tip of the iceburg has been smashed to smithereens!

    you know i love you…. dontcha?!

    since i am married to a non christ believer, i know that if a non believer knows, or even suspects, that someone is a believer…they watch….they watch for anyhing that is not, what they think of as, “Christian” behavior.

    i see many non believers are accepting of a Christian that is true to their faith, as long as the believer accepts them and loves them and sees the good in them.

    this kind of relationship leaves an opening in the heart of the non believer, and the believer learns patience and the true meaning of love.

    bradley, i am glad to know you, and the fact that you are wanting to encourage believers to be true to God in a place that they are not surrounded by believers. the workplace is a challenging place, day after day, so much is expected of a person there.

    n.

    • January 6, 2010 6:57 am

      Well said, Nancy. We do need to be Listening, as Cindy says, and true to our faith in how we interact with people and how we conduct business. In business especially, there are many opportunities to start down a slippery slope – our integrity is everything.

  17. January 6, 2010 2:25 pm

    I need to come back later and finish the post and read all the comments. But, on the road today, I was musing about the phrase “compassionate leadership.”

    Not as a great marketing phrase, but as a concept. Because I was daydreaming about what I think good leaders (and that includes their spiritual lives) look like/do on very practical levels.

    I’m all for new terminology. 🙂 And deep thinking, and excellent strategies.

    • January 7, 2010 6:16 am

      Yes, I like “compassionate leadership.” I haven’t heard that before and it does capture the essence of putting people over profits. And the word “compassionate” does not have a lot of negative/religious baggage with it… Good thinking, LL!

  18. Andrew Turner permalink
    January 6, 2010 6:32 pm

    What a great post! Just making the post-holiday reading rounds.

    I read the memoirs of General Bernard Montgomery, 1st Viscount of Alamein, who guided the British to victory in North Africa. The man, among other things, was an extremely strong and practical Christian. In addition to Christ, who demonstrated perfect “faith at work,” I think we have accessible wisdom and it’s even reasonably easy to distill.

    1) Christ and Montgomery both knew and acted on the substance that God is in control and we are not. We do what we are told, and the Lord controls the outcome. In Christ’s life, this meant sleeping through a storm. In Montgomery’s life, this meant going to bed promptly at 9 p.m. even under heavy shell fire.

    2) “Faith at Work” is a non-issue in my opinion and would be backed by Christ in His actions and Montgomery whom I believe expressly mentions it. There is no separation between faith and vocation but rather the outworking of faith in life; life is work and work is generally vocation, therefore it would stand that what stands in life stands at work. The Bible says plenty about slaves and masters and indeed all of the relationships of life, stretching from “don’t badmouth the boss” to such intricacies as not sleeping with the boss’s wife and the boss paying proper wages.

    3) It has been my experience that Christianese exists proportionate to the lack of vibrant spiritual life of the participants. While I think this is a deeper issue then can fit on response post, it would bear considering that a dead faith in religion and especially Christianity is distinctly unappealing. Christ cooked fish on the beach and tossed away the trash fish and didn’t succumb to a sermon on trash fish conservation and that attention to the living details of real life marked His work.

    4) The business world labors under the delusion that it’s somehow special and unique and more than. It’s not. The rest of the world laughs at us because they can see it and we can’t. This ties in with my first and second comments. Looking at a vocation as the end-all be-all of existence bogs a person down in minutia in a similar manner as the bride-to-be obsessing over the wedding, when the reality is that the experience is a gift and meant for our pleasure and God’s glory.

    Cheers!

    A

    mahout.wordpress.com

    • January 6, 2010 9:41 pm

      There is no separation between faith and vocation but rather the outworking of faith in life.

      Bravo, Mr. Turner. Well said!

    • January 7, 2010 6:14 am

      Andrew – This is a very thoughtful response, and a fantastic addition to the content here. I especially like your final point – “the experience is a gift and meant for our pleasure and God’s glory” – Well, that kind of sums it all up, now, doesn’t it? Excellent. I’m going to make everyone come back and read this.

  19. Andrew Turner permalink
    January 7, 2010 12:21 pm

    Thanks eh? ‘Tis an honour.

    A.

    mahout.wordpress.com

  20. Michele Corbett permalink
    January 10, 2010 10:27 am

    So as the director of the FAITH and WORK Ministry at my church, I sure feel like crap. Just kidding. I guess I can blame the former director for the name, but I do know she tried long and hard to come up with a more creative name. She’s a national brand consultant for goodness sake. But, alas, the concept seems so foreign to the church that we just went with something simple so people would get it in the beginning. I have honestly always cringed at the name myself, but as a wise professor in grad school once said, “You can’t complain about an issue if you are not willing to provide an alternative solution.”

    This is an awesome post, Bradley. And very timely for me.

    I’m struggling with the same issues you have so eloquently stated here, and I don’t know the next step yet. The vision or our ministry is to transform people, their work, and the workplaces of San Diego by bringing the hope of redemption and renewal that comes through the Gospel to the marketplace. It’s not about evangelism. It’s about bringing the Kingdom to the marketplace. How we get in there and really have a transformational influence is a bit fuzzy for me. We have events, small groups, vocares (conversations on calling), etc., but what are the things we can be doing to make the biggest impact? I began to hate grad school in the end b/c all we did at conferences was theorize about the minutia of some really important social issue like poverty and it drove me crazy. There was no action, just talk.

    I don’t necessarily agree that we are preaching to the choir. I don’t think a lot of the “choir” really gets it yet. And when they do get it philosophically, they still don’t know how to actually incorporate it into their lives practically. How do we get in there deep and actually change lives and transform the marketplace?

    So I don’t have any good answers to your issues. Can you figure it all out and let me know. Thanks!

    • January 10, 2010 1:58 pm

      Michelle- Thanks for your honest response here. A couple thoughts:

      You mention your vision of “bringing the kingdom to the marketplace.” Well, I have a friend who keeps telling me “We don’t have to bring it to the marketplace, the Kingdom is already there!” We just have to tap in to it through the Holy Spirit and get in the groove. So that speaks to your point about “preaching to the choir.”

      However, my issue with preaching to the choir is that Christians have so much cuddling and prodding and nursing resources… I just believe the whole Faith and Work thing needs to be re-positioned so that it addresses the other spiritual beings in the marketplace who have the same needs, but don’t necessarily identify with Evangelical Christianity.

      And lastly, to your point about how to have the biggest impact… Well, guess what? I would go back to Andrew’s comment above and say the biggest impact for Christ is us doing our jobs with excellence and pleasure, in a way that enriches the lives of those around us. What’s wrong with that? Why do we as Christians always think that “having a big impact” has to involve an alter call and a praise and worship band playing in the background?

      • Michele Corbett permalink
        January 10, 2010 3:45 pm

        Thanks Bradley. One of the things I’m thinking about in terms of impact is, for example, along the lines of how can we identify corrupt and unjust systems within our area of work, imagine what it would look like if that area were restored as it would be in Heaven, and then seek meaningful ways to engage in that issue. I think a person who is doing this well in his industry is Sam over at New Breed of Advertisers. Within his world, he is questioning assumptions and providing ideas for a better way.

        Hadn’t thought in terms of the Kingdom already being there. I would not necessarily disagree, but I do think that it is also brought through Christ in us (may not be saying this in some officially theologically correct way). I think it’s probably two perspectives that work in tandem.

        And as for not preaching to the choir, I’m with you. A lot of people who might not like a normal church have been attracted to my church because we have a ministry that cares about something they care about and devote a lot of time to – work. It’s something we can connect on. We have attracted non-Christians to the ministry because they see the value in a biblical perspective even if they don’t agree with the foundation.

        And as for Andrew’s point, it’s a good one. We had an experience at my work (a Christian university) where we hired a consultant who is not religious. After working with us for 18 months, he has been changed by us and he does not even know why. He wants to work with us, to promote us, to see us be successful b/c he saw something different. And we have never even brought in a worship band to our meetings.

  21. April 4, 2011 12:09 pm

    This is a fascinating discussion and I’m really glad I stumbled on it because at our church we are exploring similar ideas. What I’ve observed over years of experience is that people don’t really understand God’s heart for the marketplace to begin with. Instead we just view co-workers as godless souls waiting on an assembly line of transformation, executed through cheesy Bible studies and irrelevant antics. However by taking the time to truly understand God’s heart for the marketplace and why it matters to the kingdom of heaven we really begin realize what it means and how to be effective as Christians in the marketplace.

    (We’re exploring that very concept at http://www.greaterseas.com, if you’re not offended by my shameless plug)

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