Equipping followers of Christ to engage in their everyday work as the work of God, so workplaces are invigorated, communities flourish and culture is renewed to the honor and glory of the Lord.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

The Deepest And Most Significant Changes

One of the first books that opened my eyes to the faith-at-work frontier was Doug Sherman and William Hendricks' landmark piece, Your Work Matters To God, published in 1987.

Of all the formats the authors have used for teaching followers of Christ to integrate their faith with their work, Sherman and Hendricks say the small group experience, when effectively done, produces "the deepest and most significant changes."

I have a feeling John and Charles Wesley would agree. Along with William Wilberforce.

For those who want to live out the biblical worldview in real life, and to play an effective role in transforming culture, Sherman and Hendrick's advice is as fresh today as it was 22 years ago: "Consider forming an on-going group of associates who purpose to bring biblical principles to everyday work situations.”

The authors suggest such groups be discussion-oriented around specific workplace situations, where participants can experience accountability as well as mutual support and encouragement in making the connections between those workplace situations and authentic Christianity.

Sherman and Hendricks also recommend that such work-focused small groups be homogeneous. As they put it, “…it will obviously be easier for a secretary to think through what it means to serve Christ as a secretary with other secretaries and clerical workers than with vice presidents and CEOs.”

I’m wondering if any of you (readers of this blog) are presently in a work-focused small group such as the kind Sherman and Hendricks describe.

I am not talking about a group of working people who meet together for general Bible study. I am not talking about a group that meets for prayer, unless that prayer is specifically focused on workplace matters. I am not talking about a group that meets for a Christian book study, unless the book is about biblical applications to specific work issues that group members are facing.

What I am talking about are work-oriented small groups that meet regularly for the specific purpose of bringing biblical principles to specific workplace challenges and opportunities that participants in the group are currently facing. A true support group.

Are any of you part of such a work-life support group? If so, would you mind posting a comment, sharing how it is working for you and those in your group?

If you are not in such a group, but have thoughts on this matter, please post a comment.

Posting comments helps others. But if you are reluctant to submit your comments for the whole world to read, please send me a direct e-mail at overman@biblicalworldview.com. I’m truly interested in your thoughts, and in your experience along these lines.

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  1. I couldn't agree more! For the past 22 years I have led a group of Christian business owners in Long Beach CA. We are a local fellowship group of Fellowship of Companies for Christ, Int'l; a ministry to equip and encourage Christian business owners to operate their businesses and conduct their personal lives according to biblical principles.

    Great fruit has come from this group over the years and most attendees come with an attitude of expectation each meeting. We meet for about 1 1/2 hours and spend about 1/3 of our time sharing a current concern with one of the member's companies, 1/3 doing an "owner-relevant" Bible study, and 1/3 in prayer.

    When we began, there wasn't a lot of reference/study material available but now there is quite a bit. We have had both Doug Sherman and Walt Hendrick speak at our annual conferences. They have both made enormous contributions to the arena of marketplace ministry.

    The marketplace is a great place to live out the Gospel and develop relationships in order to direct people to the Lord. If you sense God's calling to "the mission field", prayerfully take a look at your employees, customers, vendors and trade associates. The fields are white for harvest!

  2. Thanks, Eric, for this very encouraging comment.

    The fact that you have been doing this for 22 years is in itself a testimony to the effectiveness of what you are doing.

    I have a couple of questions:

    1. How many business owners are in your group?

    2. Does the Fellowship of Companies for Christ International provide the "owner-relevant" Bible studies? (Is this part of a curriculum they have developed for your use?)

    I am familiar with FCCI, and like what they are doing very much. Kent Humphreys (past President of FCCI) is a friend.