Blog - Grasping Vocation
Let's Stop Reinventing the WheelThursday, October 29, 2009
Q: What's wrong with this picture?
A: Two are carrying a round wheel that could easily roll with a gentle push. And one is pushing a square wheel that just won't turn.
Why do we Christians seem bent on reinventing the wheel? The “wheel” in this case is the means of building relationships with unbelievers. Most of us shy away from confrontational, cold-turkey evangelism. Instinctively we know the gospel glides best on wheels of trust and friendship. So we spend hours in committees strategizing ways to build them with those who as yet do not know the Savior. And from these efforts emerge program “wheels” we must keep spinning: Alpha groups; evangelistic Bible studies; marriage enrichment weekends; parenting classes; food banks; and so many more. These programs spring from good motives and often produce desirable fruit.
Meanwhile, we all but ignore the wheels that already exist for most Christians in the places where they work. According to David Scott, “The average person regularly interacts with twenty to fifty people each week through their work. They would be doing well if they could even name five people in their neighborhood” (“WorkLife Discipleship and Outreach: Another Great Omission”)
We not only ignore the relationship-building potential of the workplace, but many Christians consider the hours spent at work as a net loss for the kingdom of God. How much better it would be, they imagine, to devote themselves to “full-time Christian service,” instead of this “secular” job in a sin-soaked world. So in our thinking one of the roundest wheels for relationship-building gets trashed.
But ponder some of the practical advantages this overlooked wheel offers in terms of money and time. Building relationships through programs often drains dollars from a church budget. But in the workplace, someone else—a company, perhaps, or a public agency—picks up the tab for the environment in which those relationships develop. Creating relationships through church programs can impose stressful demands on our time. On-the-job relationships form naturally within daily rhythms of work, without forcing already overloaded schedules into the red zone.
Imagine what could happen if, instead of reinventing the wheel, we devoted the time and energy to equipping Christians to make proper use of those relationship-wheels already in place where they work. As more and more believers master the skills of moving with those wheels, they will be able to mentor others in the church as they learn to do the same.
I want to encourage local churches to train believers to use those relationship wheels already invented and installed in their workplaces. Can you help me understand how to do that?