Blog - Supporting Believers
Readers RespondSunday, August 22, 2010
Wow! None of my blogs has ever received as many comments as the one last week. In it, I asked: "How can pastors and church leaders incorporate workplace-preparedness into the DNA of their church life?” The responses would, I hoped, help me create a pastor-oriented seminar. Did they ever! Some came via the comments space; others by email. In this week's blog, I'll try to condense those responses.
Last week I first asked readers for examples of what their churches were "doing to equip believers to represent Christ in the work world.”
- "Unfortunately, nothing explicit due to a year-long transition between pastors.”
- My pastor "does his best at trying to equip us….”
- The workplace is "a neglected area of the church.”
- Little is being done to encourage believers in the "secular” workplace.
- Vocational Christian service is typically presented as the "ideal” or the "norm.”
One response came from a pastor. He presents "ministry” and "secular” vocations so that neither is honored above the other.
My second request asked readers to describe the kind of help they, as working Christians, would like to receive from their churches.
- Small Groups. Long-term studies of workplace issues in small groups.
- Workshops. Include role-playing to help working believers practice asking questions to open conversations along spiritual lines. Role-playing could also train believers to respond in love to co-workers who state untruths about such topics as abortion or Intelligent Design.
- Messages. On the need to do good to everyone and to steward the physical earth.
- Messages. On ethics—balancing the drive for results with compassion; resolving conflicts between biblical principles and business demands.
- Affirmation. That everyday work matters.
- Affirmation. Of the value of being "out there” in the world.
My third request prompted by far the most responses. I had asked readers to name the greatest challenge they face as Christians in the work world.
- Calling. How do I keep a sense of God's calling in a boring job?
- Inferiority Complex. I sometimes feel like a second-class citizen because I'm not in vocational ministry.
- Stress. How do I focus on God, treat people as he does, and maintain a right attitude while behind in my work and bombarded with interruptions?
- Encouragement and Support. Because I work with all non-believers, I have no support from Christians until after work.
- Separation. It's easy to get caught up in office jokes and gossip.
- Witness. How far can I go in speaking of my faith in a world that wants to keep it separate from work?
- Time Demands. I could work 100 hours a week and not do all my employer expects. How do I balance that pressure with the legitimate demands of my home life?
My heartfelt thanks to everyone who responded. Your honest answers are helping me shape what looks at this point like a half-day seminar for pastors and church leaders. Please pray that God's Spirit will direct in this labor of love and that he will open opportunities for presenting the material.