Blog - Supporting Believers

The Church Needs Reports from the Front

Friday, September 03, 2010

"Mind the gap!” Those recorded words warn passengers in London's subway not to step into the void between the platform and the train car. In its paper on marketplace ministry, the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization quotes those words as "an apt analogy for the gap between Sunday and Monday.” What can close the Sunday-Monday gap?

A "report from the front” can begin to bridge it. In the battle for truth in our world, the workplace is a major front. So in reports from the front Christians tell of living out their faith in their own work worlds. Such reports encourage other believers by helping them see and carry out God's purposes in their workplaces and lives. This practice can benefit groups of Christians of any size. But I am thinking particularly of a brief account spoken publicly during a church service.

In his book, The Other Six Days, R. Paul Stevens writes: "The culture of a local church can be partially changed in fifty-two weeks. . . . Each week an ordinary member should be brought forward and in five minutes interviewed along these lines: What do you do for a living? What are the issues you face in your work? What difference does your faith make to the way you address these Issues? How would you like us as a church to pray for you in your ministry in the workplace?”

A testimony from the workplace builds the body of Christ in several ways. First, it clarifies what ministry looks like on the job. Believers see gathered-church ministry every week—sermons, corporate singing, public prayer, Sunday school classes, and so on. But Christians seldom see models of workplace ministry. Ministry in the work world differs greatly from what happens when believers assemble on the weekend. Bottom line: many Christians have never seen their everyday work as ministry.

Second, reports of this kind help close the Sunday-Monday divide. David W. Miller, in his article, "The Sunday-Monday Gap: Called to Pew or Profit?,” says, "Most people, particularly those in the marketplace and world of work, feel a chasm between Sunday worship and Monday work — a gap — as if the two worlds had nothing to do with each other.” The report from the front narrows the distance by bringing the office into the sanctuary.

Third, such a report from the workplace lets fellow believers know how to support each other in prayer. If they know you at all, most of those in a typical congregation know you only as a name and a face. Hearing you tell what you do the rest of the week helps them see your life in 3-D and in color.

Next week, I plan to cover several questions that can serve as thought-prompters in preparing a report from the front lines. You may use the questions in developing your own report or to help someone else organize one.

I'll close this week's post by including two examples of reports from the front you can watch on YouTube.com. Neither of these was presented publicly before a congregation—but either could have been.

Jamie Detwiler, federal government employee, reports on her prayer fellowship at work.  View Video

Justin Bratnober, business owner, tells how his faith prompts him to create an environment in which employees can demonstrate the love of Christ.  View Video

If you know of other examples of such reports from the front, please help spread the word. Let us know in the comments box below.

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