Blog - Supporting Believers

AT THE CORNER OF CHURCH AND WORK

Monday, November 05, 2012

It’s time to create a new intersection. Back in 1974 when I wrote Secular Work is Full-Time Service (now published as Serving Christ in the Workplace), I was not aware of any other books on the connection between faith and the workplace. Since then, however, literally thousands have become available. Just this year (2012), for example, quite a number of new books have appeared. To name just a few:

 
Work Matters
: Lessons from Scripture, by R. Paul Stevens.
Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work, by Tim Keller.
How Then Should We Work? Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work, by Hugh Whelchel.

In addition to the books, marketplace conferences, theology-of-work seminars, and faith-at-work websites have multiplied. A few seminaries and graduate schools now offer courses on the biblical revelation concerning human work.

The basic biblical theology on human work has been explored quite thoroughly. God as Worker. Human beings as workers—because made in his likeness. Our responsibility to steward the Creation and our cultures. Calling recognized as not limited to those in "full-time Christian service.” The Kingdom-of-God perspective. The unbiblical and demeaning division between so-called "sacred work” and "secular work.” Work as a major arena for practicing the priesthood of all believers. And much more.

But in spite of all the good theology now available about our daily work, an important element is still missing. With some exceptions, these truths have barely penetrated the ministry agendas of the typical local church. In God at Work, David W. Miller says that, "despite some exceptions, the evidence strongly suggests that the church in general seems uninterested in, unaware of, or unsure of how to help the laity integrate their faith identities and teachings with their workplace occupations, problems, and possibilities.”

A high percentage of those in most congregations spend their weeks in paid and unpaid work. Yet the truths of workplace theology have not become a part of their church DNA. The biblical revelation on work rarely shows up in sermons, classes, and small groups.

In his book, Letters to Pastors (also published in 2012), Kent Humphreys describes what he sees as the obstacles that build the "wall of misperception  and misunderstanding” that separates the "professional minister” and the "ordinary believer.” He lists 10 obstacles that stand in the way of pastors. And he offers another 13 that block the path of the "ordinary believer.” As a result of these obstacles, he contends that "a full eighty percent of ‘ordinary’ believers do not understand their calling as full-time ambassadors of Christ.”

A grasp of the biblical revelation about work is critical for God’s people if we are to carry out God’s agenda in the world today. So by means of this blog, I am asking you to describe what you believe it will take for that to happen. Specifically, if you’re not hearing much in your church about what the Bible says about ordinary work:

Comments (6)

Marcus Goodyear (11/13/2012 8:10:40 AM)
Larry, we are asking these questions all the time. When we polled our audience of 40K about our Labor Day Sunday test this year, they gave us some interesting insights.

You inspired me to upload the report I gave to LeTourneau University and to my own organization: http://www.slideshare.net/GoodWordEditing/labor-day-sunday-report

Bill Peel (11/14/2012 10:05:44 AM)
Larry and Dave, we just commissioned Lifeway to ask pastors how often they have visited a member's workplace. I hope we can encourage this activity this next year. I think it's a very effective strategy.
Larry Peabody (11/15/2012 9:29:38 AM)
Marcus, thank you for sending the results of your Labor Day emphasis. The faith-at-work vision continues to expand.
Larry Peabody (11/15/2012 9:34:17 AM)
Bill, good to hear you're encouraging pastor-visits to the workplace. In JOY AT WORK, Dennis Bakke comments that he recalls only two or three such visits in his 30 years in the workplace.
Larry Peabody (11/7/2012 5:14:00 PM)
Simple and yet apparently so effective, David. Thank you!
David Rupert (11/7/2012 8:50:11 AM)
I've invited my pastor to my workplace and he has met my coworkers . I showed him my desk and explained my responsilibites. His experience showed up in the next sermon. SO maybe it just takes an invite?

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