Blog - Supporting Believers

Meshing Sunday and Monday: Workplace Visits

Saturday, October 30, 2010

This continues a series suggesting a number of ways to relate what happens in our church services on Sundays to life in our workplaces on weekdays. This post proposes another way to shrink that distance—pastoral visits to the workplace.

Earlier this month the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization convened in Cape Town, South Africa. Willy Kotiuga, from Montreal, submitted an Advance Paper in preparation for a session on marketplace ministry. In that paper he writes, "Although pastors rub shoulders with the laity in a church context, the discussions are primarily focused on church business and not workplace mission.” That gap can be narrowed when pastors visit church members in their workplaces.

In his website, Justin Buzzard, a pastor in the San Francisco Bay area for several years, writes: "I've discovered that one of the most important things for me to do is to hang out with men in my church at their workplace. This helps the men. It shows them that I care about their callings, how they spend 50+ hours of their week, and the people they work with. This helps me. It teaches me about the unique opportunities and challenges men are facing in their different workplaces, it opens my eyes to a world bigger than our church, and it helps set new trajectories for my preaching and discipling.”

I'd add that working women also need such visits. If gender issues concern a male pastor, he (if married) and his spouse could make the workplace visit as a team. For example, my wife and I visited a woman who worked in the fund-raising office of a hospital.

In an Intervarsity website, Gordon Govier quotes Michael Lindsay, a sociology professor at Rich University. Lindsay has asked many Christians how often their pastors visit their workplaces. "I interviewed 360 leaders in government, business and culture,” he says. "Only one said that their pastor had actually visited them in their workplace.” That one man told Lindsay precisely what he and his pastor talked about that day. He even remembered how they were dressed. Lindsay tells his pastor friends, "If you want to have an influence in your community, get out and pay pastoral visits to the workplace.”

Dennis Bakke, co-founder and CEO of the AES Corporation from 1994 to 2002, writes of his experience with pastoral visits to the workplace in his book, Joy at Work. "I recall only two or three visits to my place of work by one of my pastors in the past 30 years. . . . For people like me, a pastoral visit affirms the importance to God of my daily tasks and reinforces the idea that my work has been ordained by God. . . . I am reminded that I am God's representative at my place of work and that I am accountable to Him for my behavior and actions on the job and especially for the service or product I help provide to society.”

If you're a pastor, consider these recommendations for workplace visits:

A sentence from Lesslie Newbigin underscores the importance of pastoral visits to the workplace: "The primary action of the church in the world is the action of its members in their daily work.”

If you spend your weeks in the work world, and if you were to write a letter inviting your pastor to visit your workplace, what would you say? Please tell us in the comments space below.

Comments (4)

Mike Carlisle (10/30/2010 6:32:35 PM)
Hi Larry, I read with delight your blog, received in my email inbox today. I couldn't agree more that pastoral visits to the workplace sends a huge signal to people in the private sector that they are important. And their workplace is, in fact, a place for their Christian influence to matter as servant leaders who lead like Jesus. I am wondering if we shouldn't have a commissioning service for our "missionaries" in the workplace just like we do for others. These are the real leaders, and I believe we should be stewarding their vision for being salt and light the marketplace.
I enjoyed being with you last spring at the training, in Washington DC, where we discussed the Theology of Work, a course taught by Bakke Graduate University.
Very Best,
Mike Carlisle
Larry Peabody (10/31/2010 8:42:21 AM)
Good to hear from you, Mike! The Bakke Graduate University course on the theology of work was great. You mentioned commissioning Christians in the workplace. My post on October 24 covered commissioning. Here is the link:
Bill Pezzutti (10/31/2010 9:40:57 AM)
I agree with what you have written. People need to believe we care. We care by meeting them on their turf!! We need servant leaders that need to go out and visit people everyday. It seems so foreign t so many people. I want to be a bridge builder to see God move in the "marketplace." Blessings. Bill
Marthie (7/8/2012 9:32:04 AM)
This message was very timley for me. I started working for an organization about a year ago and shortly thereafter realized that the organization is full of Athestic, faithless people who live all kinds of alternative lifestyles. The two bosses that I have are very difficult, and although I have an impeccable work ethic and stellar organizational skills, they are disorganized and and resent me for being hard working. I've tried to remember that it is the Lord Christ whom I serve, but my frustration and attitude have been suffering lately.This message made me face the sin of my bitter attitude and remember that I am called to submission. I may truly be the only Christian my bosses/coworkers ever really get to know and it's mission critical that I remember that God's reputation is at stake with my behavior.I've been tempted to just quit and try something else, but I'm not being asked to do anything illegal or immoral. I'm just getting picked on and over loaded, and I think I need to stop being a baby about it.

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