The Workplace Ministry Opportunity
The Church has the opportunity to intentionally inspire, equip, and deploy workplace missionaries to integrate biblical wisdom in decision making, develop godly character, and effectively leverage their influence for God’s Kingdom. In summary, by helping the men and women take their faith to work the church has the opportunity to:
- Consistently affirm each believer’s calling and value to God’s Kingdom
- Equip them to live out their faith on a 24/7 basis
- Commission them to take the gospel to their coworkers and colleagues Leverage their influence to transform companies, communities, and cities
- Use their abilities to impact international missions
WHY WORKPLACE MINISTRY IS IMPORTANT
Consider the Scope of Our Work
Working men and women spend 45% to 70% of their waking hours in work related activities—outside the walls of the church. It is critical that we shepherd, support, and equip them to walk with Christ in the dominant segment of their lives.
The people who go out into the workplace are the church. The pastor needs to read his congregation and know his congregation from one end to the other. And see where they are spiritually, see where they are physically. Then ask God, “How do I organize the church to help equip members to function where God has put them in the marketplace?” Most of their time is not spent in the church house. It is spent in the world. And so Jesus said, “Father I don’t pray that you take them out of the world, I pray that you keep them in the world and keep them from the evil one.”
There is a distinction between church work and the work of the church. Church work is what you do for the organized institution of the church. The work of the church is what is done between Sundays when the church is scattered all over the metropolitan area where it is located— in homes, schools, offices, on construction jobs, in market places.
When a church prioritizes and purposely focuses on ministering to people in this area, job satisfaction and organizational commitment, as well as satisfaction with their church increases. One recent study reports an increase satisfaction of 168% with the church’s equipping ministry as a result of increased focus on the workplace by the church.
There’s a desire for people to live a meaningful, integrated life. They’re tired of a compartmentalized existence where the different parts of their identity—their soul, their spirit—are cut out. We work crazy, long hours, and if we’re really honest, most of us don’t do it just for the paycheck. We hope to get something else out of it.
Consider the Opportunity
The workplace provides the biggest opportunity for Christians to express their God-given gifts and have a spiritual influence for God’s Kingdom, because they are . . .
1. Strategically deployed. Five days a week, fifty-two weeks a year, the “9:00-5:00 Window” is the greatest mission field in the world. Believers in the workforce are already strategically deployed in the mission field—their Jerusalem (Acts 1:8).
- Sunday’s church-goers become Monday’s missionaries
- Workplace missionaries are self-supporting (vs. $80,000+/yr for a traditional missionary)
2. Strategically connected. Studies show that 83% 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 cannot be denied.
- The preponderance of a person’s significant relationships with non-Christians is in their place of work.
- The true scope of a church’s influence is not its Sunday attendance, but the sum total of the congregation’s relationships—most of which are co-workers and colleagues. (25+ per person)
- Consider the scope of influence of a church with a Sunday attendance of 1500:
1000 Adults influenced for Christ on Sunday
20,000 influenced for Christ Monday - Friday
Most Christians spend the majority of their time at work, and often have their most significant relationships with pre-Christians at work. Rather than call Christians out of their work setting to do ministry, affirm them, encourage them, and equip them for effective ministry in their WorkLife setting.
—Leith Anderson, Senior Pastor, Wooddale Church
Consider the Potential for Cultural Influence
Our society is dominated and driven by the values of the workplace—power, possessions, and position—rather than justice, mercy, and humility. Until men and women take their faith to work and challenge the culture of the workplace, a godless value system will continue to dominate our society.
We have attempted to transform our cities for years without success. I now believe the reason is because pastors and church leaders do not have the authority to do so. That authority lies within those leaders in the marketplace. When we recognize and affirm the apostles in the marketplace we will begin to see the transformation of cities.
—Dr. Peter Wagner
God has begun an evangelism movement in the workplace that has the potential to transform our society as we know it.
We are convinced that England will never be converted until the laity use the opportunities daily afforded by their various professions, crafts and occupations.
—Towards the Conversion of England, 1945
Consider 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. This is more than all of the words used to express worship, music, praise, and singing combined. Work is Worship. Seventy-five percent of the Bible’s heroes are employed in the workplace and much of the Bible’s teaching is workplace centered.
- Of Jesus’ 132 public appearances in NT, 122 were in the workplace
- Of 52 parables Jesus told, 45 had a workplace context
- Of 40 divine interventions recorded in Acts, 39 were in the workplace
- Jesus spent 90% of his life in a small business
- Jesus called 12 workplace individuals, not clergy, to build His church
God does not, nor can we, consider a man or woman to be a godly, mature person who has not brought the Lordship of Christ over that which dominates 45% to 70% of his or her waking hours. To neglect this vital part of the life of a congregation is to neglect our calling as shepherds of the body of Christ.
Consider What Other Leaders Say
Christian leaders from the church and the workplace consider the workplace a critically important place where God is working.
I believe one of the next great moves of God is going to be through believers in the workplace.
Someone recently said that the “First” Reformation took the Word of God to the common man and woman; the “Second” Reformation is taking the work of God to the common man and woman. That time is now. The greatest potential ministry in the world today is the marketplace. Christ’s greatest labor force is those men and women already in that environment.
—Tom Phillips, VP of Training, BGEA
We reviewed 52 movements in the body of Christ. We narrowed it down to 28, then 12, then 4 to invest our resources in the coming years. The workplace is one of those because this is an area where we see God working.
—Chad Hammond, Director, New Venture, BGEA
In today’s global community, the greatest channel of distribution for “salt and light” is the business community . . . the marketplace.
—Bill Pollard, Chairman, ServiceMaster
Societal transformation is high on God’s agenda and the chief catalytic force to bring it about will be Christians ministering in the marketplace.
Today, a spiritual revival is sweeping across Corporate America as people of all stripes are mixing mysticism into their management, importing into office corridors the lessons usually dolled out in churches, temples, and mosques. Gone is the old taboo against talking about God at work.
—BusinessWeek Magazine, November 1999
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.
Workplace Ministry will be one of the core future innovations in church ministry.
Guide slaves into being loyal workers, a bonus to their masters—no back talk,  no petty thievery. Then their good character will shine through their actions, adding luster to the teaching of our Savior God.
—The Apostle Paul, Titus 2:9-10