Blog - Grasping Vocation

Work-World Christians Unaware of Resources

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A survey of 60 Christian employees made up the research core of my just-completed DMin. Dissertation. One of the 41 questions asked: "Are you aware of any resources that provide instruction and encouragement for believers in the 21st century work world?” More than 60 percent (37) said no.

 In the early 1970s, I too would have answered "no.” Back then I was not aware of any books on practicing the Christian faith in the workplace. So on evenings and weekends, while working days as an employee, I wrote Secular Work is Full-Time Service, published by Christian Literature Crusade in 1974. They still offer it under the new title, Serving Christ in the Workplace.

In the nearly 40 years since then, hundreds of books have appeared in what many now call the "faith-at-work movement.” By 2002, as he mentions in The Marketplace Annotated Bibliography, InterVarsity’s Pete Hammond had collected 1,300 books on the subject. In the ten years since then, hundreds more have appeared.

As I look over books in the faith-at-work movement, I’m struck by how many titles include the words "work matters.” For example, R. Paul Stevens, the pastor-theologian-professor who is the most widely recognized author in this field, has just written his latest book, Work Matters: Lessons from Scripture. Tom Nelson, pastor of Christ Community Church in Leawood, Kansas, just last year published Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work. And a book by Doug Sherman and William Hendricks is entitled, Your Work Matters to God.

Why this emphasis on work mattering? Because our religious traditions have convinced a great many Christians that their work is spiritually insignificant. In other words, they think God has little or no interest in what occupies the bulk of their best waking hours.

If my small survey is any indication—well over half of Christians in the work world don’t know about the wealth of biblically sound books on what God has revealed about how their work fits into his agenda. That’s why, in future blogs, I hope to offer summaries of a few books I think provide great resources for believers in the workplace.

Comments (3)

Al Erisman (5/30/2012 4:28:43 PM)
You and your readers should know that Seattle Pacific University now has Pete Hammond's collection, and is adding to it regularly. There is an online reference to the material and a special room in the SPU library where the collection is housed.
Larry Peabody (5/30/2012 7:03:35 PM)
I visited the Pete Hammond collection shortly after his death. Glad to hear it is still growing!
Henry Paasonen (6/1/2012 5:45:11 AM)
The heart of matter in work -- certainly from a biblical stand point -- is the question, Do you find deep down rest in your work? Or to put it more theologically, Since your whole body and being is the temple for the presence and person of the Holy Spirit, does your work keep you in His temple presence or pull you out of His temple presence? For men and women who know who they are in Christ, all work is temple work. Curious: In a recent Sunday worship time, our pastor asked us in the congregation to recall having enjoyed a time of rest in our daily life. A friend of mine told me afterward he could not think of any such moment of such rest in his daily work. Sad, no? How many other folks also fail to experience secular work as full time temple service? We either sing at work, "It is glory just to walk with Him" or work walks all over us.

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