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 6, 2009

The Most Fitting Place

One reason I am passionate about helping followers of Christ to connect their faith with their everyday work is because authentic Christianity is not just something for the individual soul, but for the community as a whole.

If you take William Wilberforce’s passion for the reformation of society, and combine it with John Wesley’s passion for "real Christianity," then mix it together with regular gatherings of a small "Clapham Circle" of Christian businessmen, bankers, and other politicians for advice, encouragement, accountability and perspective, what do you get?

You get what the English poet William Cowper described as, “the better hour.”

There are four big take-aways from the Wesley-Wilberforce story that are meaningful to me:

First, while Wesley's work as a full-time preacher-teacher was the right thing for him to do, if Wilberforce had left politics to go “into the ministry” it would have been a great loss. A Christian politician can be “in the ministry” too, directly by doing his or her daily work in that field.

Second, a small group of believing friends to provide encouragement and accountability in connecting one's faith with one's work is indispensable.

Third, the application of real Christianity to all of life is transformational, not just for individuals, but for whole communities and nations.

Fourth, there is no better opportunity to live out the application of real Christianity than in the context of everyday, regular work. This is what Wilberforce did.

When it comes to "salting" and "lighting" the world, isn’t the everyday workplace the most fitting place for followers of Christ to apply the biblical worldview to real life, in natural and normal ways?

I’m not talking about sharing the Four Spiritual Laws with co-workers here. I’m talking about living out authentic Christianity in the context of our work relationships, decision-making processes, policies and procedures, marketing and sales, product development and production, pricing, contracts, accounting, management, strategic planning and community service.

Right now millions of followers of Christ are already sprinkled throughout the workplaces of the world, at all levels of society, in all arenas of influence. What might happen to whole communities and nations if we all did our daily work, in all spheres of human endeavor, "as for the Lord?"

Os Guinness was profoundly correct when he said: "God has His people where He wants them. The problem is that they are not being His people where they are.”

Wilberforce demonstrated a keen understanding of the full-orbed Gospel of the Kingdom. This understanding changed the face of his nation—and the world. I think it is time for a refresher course.

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  1. Thank you, Christian, for this post. The Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals at Wheaton College has estimated the number of evangelical Christians in the U.S. at "about 100 million." If the same proportion of these believers enter the work force each week as holds true in the rest of the population (50 percent), that means 50 million evangelical Christians scatter into the workplaces of our nation day after day, week after week. And most of them are paid not by the church but by corporations and small businesses.

    Just think of the impact if all 50 million saw themselves as representatives of Jesus Christ in the nation's work force.

  2. I like the idea about every Christian using the workplace as the place where God placed them to serve him, but I also wonder if the emphasis on serving God in the workplace should be contrasted with serving him in a specific spiritual type ministry. Are Christians not serving God in the workplace, because they don't believe God has called them to be a minister or missionary? I hope no one who has had reason to consider the ministry or missionary work now thinks that serving God in a secular workplace is more important to God. Both callings are important and needed, but is one more legitimate than the other?

  3. If I might respond to Roy Mayfield's question: No, one calling is not "more legitimate than the other." Each is vital. Ephesians 4:11 and 12 make it clear that God calls pastors and teachers to equip his people "for works of service (Greek: ministry)." So the work of pastors is to prepare God's people to do their work/service/ministry.

    The problem for centuries has been that so-called "full-time ministry" work has been considered as more important than mere "secular" work. So Christian's blog--and all the current emphasis on workplace ministry--is serving a corrective role among believers.