Whether it is in the home or in the marketplace, there is no single model or one right way for the local church to support your working congregation. A few ideas to connect people working in the marketplace include: a church business directory for its members and availability to the congregation; business networking and mentoring by industry or type of work within the church to create community; implementing a small group or a life group in their place of work with other employees to maintain focus on the purpose and calling in the marketplace and grow the individuals in their work life.
Bring in speakers to help them navigate workplace challenges, such as legal rights. Support entrepreneurial ventures or fund small business startups. Each church needs to discover whom God has entrusted to them, their members’ level of spiritual maturity, the types of work represented, and where they are located. Each pastor needs to build on the unique DNA of their own church with the people in the congregation.
Fortunately, we are seeing an increase in the number of churches that are attempting to connect with the work life of their members. Unfortunately, most of those efforts, while well intended, go from sizzle to fizzle in a hurry. Pastors and church leaders are left frustrated and their congregation disappointed.
R.I.D.E.: Here’s a simple acrostic I’ve found that represents a guiding strategy to frame support for all of your working congregation, both in the home and in the marketplace. It is not necessarily sequential, but has strategic areas of focus like levers that when pulled will yield fruitfulness as your church member is empowered to multiply.
Reinforce the role that believers have at work
Identify the influence they have
Disciple them in their work life
Empower to multiply
Reinforce the role that believers have in the marketplace.
What is their job description for Jesus? A mature theology of work facilitates an integrated understanding of work, stewardship, and calling from a biblical perspective. Include work illustrations in your teaching. Not everyone will work in the field of business or have a career, but everyone can identify with words like job, work, and workplace.
Identify the influence they have.
Now that they have the big picture, help them to see what this looks like in their work life. Testimonials, stories, and practical examples provide a mental model and fuel their own creativity. Individuals influence co-workers and others with their character, their employer with their ideas and leadership, their industry by their decisions, and those around them by how they live.
Disciple them in their work life.
With a high level understanding of God’s purposes in their work and what they can do in connecting their daily work to God’s work, the pastor can effectively disciple the individual in their work life. This can occur in the weekend service, through classes, or individually. Small and consistent activities shape beliefs and facilitate a cultural change. If people are effectively discipled in their work life, you will see lives changed, as well as companies and communities transformed.
At Saddleback Church, I focused on growing and discipling marketplace believers, primarily through one of our 500 workplace small groups. I found that 25% of our workplace small groups had one or more people come to Christ by first developing disciples. So, at our December 2014 Business Connection event I invited the small business leaders to offer their business to Jesus as their Christmas gift. Using large wooden crosses placed throughout the room, they nailed their business cards to them in surrender.
Empower to multiply.
With the right soil, the planting of seeds and consistent watering, you will begin to see lives change, people coming to Christ, organizations transformed, and communities impacted. God is eager to make himself known through the individuals in your church and their work.
Image attribution: Rawpixel / Thinkstock
Used by permission. All rights reserved. Content edited and distributed by Asbury Theological Seminary for non-profit educational purposes. © 2016 Helen Mitchell