Blog - Supporting Believers
The Church Needs Reports from the FrontSaturday, September 11, 2010
We had heard from our friend, Jackie, how she was seeing God at work in her government job. I asked if she'd care to develop a front lines report. She agreed, so I prompted her thinking with a few questions. Her responses guided her as she drafted a report intended to encourage other believers in living out their faith in their own workplaces.
Some months later, a church asked me to preach in a Sunday service. I asked Jackie to accompany us and to share her front lines report with the congregation. Before presenting my message on Daniel in the workplace, I introduced her. After she shared her story, I said, "If I were in my home church, I'd ask one of you to pray for Jackie. As an out-of-towner, I wouldn't know which of you to ask. But is there anyone here who would volunteer to pray for her?”
Instantly, a young woman raised her hand. As she did so, she began weeping. Within seconds, she regained her composure, then led us in a fervent prayer for Jackie. After the service, we learned the reason for the woman's tears. Just that week, she had undergone trials at work much like what she heard in Jackie's report. Nothing I might have said in my pastoral sermon could have touched that woman as deeply as what Jackie shared that morning.
Here are some of the questions I asked to help Jackie organize her front lines report.
How does your job help carry out God's work of caring for and providing for life on his earth? For example, a grocery checker helps supply food for people God loves. A homemaker trains children for their roles as adults. A bus driver makes it possible for people to travel to and from work and other places.
How do you approach your work differently because Christ lives in you? You may wish to contrast your life at work before and after trusting Jesus. For example, "Knowing Jesus has made me able to apologize and show true remorse when I've wronged someone. This is something I never would have done before becoming a believer.”
Has God, as a result of your work, opened any doors through which you are able to serve others in love? Example: "When clients were upset or did not understand, they would lash out. It dawned on me that I could defuse the anger if I would just be quiet and listen.”
What opportunities has God opened for you to find other believers on the job and to encourage and be encouraged by them? Example: "Many other believers have joined our staff. Several have knocked on my door and asked if I could pray with them about something.”
How is God using you to bear witness to Christ among your unbelieving co-workers? Example: "When a secretary in our office was going through the pain of a divorce, I was able to invite her to our home for a meal and share with her how I had come to Christ.”
How is God using the frustrations, stresses, and difficulties of your job to form Christ in you more completely? Example: "Right now, we're going through reorganization—again. I think God is producing patience and love in me through all this. And I'm learning to demonstrate God's authority, not just my own.”
What are two or three specific ways fellow believers can pray for you and your ministry in the place where you work? Example: "Pray that I will love my co-workers and clients in the way Jesus tells us to love our neighbors. And please pray that I will not be led into temptation as a result of my work and that God will deliver me from the traps of the evil one.”
A thoughtfully organized report can be presented in around five minutes. Some people do best by presenting their reports on their own. Others prefer an interview format, using questions agreed upon ahead of time.
Witnessing the young woman's response to Jackie's front lines report reminded me of an important and sometimes neglected truth: that "the body builds itself up in love, as each part [not just the pastor part] does its work” (Eph. 4:16). Front lines reports open an effective way for the parts of the body to do their building-up work—and to reconnect Sunday with Monday.