Most church members spend the majority of their waking hours in the workplace. Yet few pastors or church leaders prepare them for those workplaces.
How can pastors and churches change? What are some practical ways for the church to prepare believers for the workplace?
Keith Whitfield posed this question to Benjamin Quinn. Watch their discussion above, or read a transcript below (edited for clarity).
How can the church prepare Christians for the workplace?
“The question is framed perfectly, because it is in fact the church’s responsibility. Part one of how the church should equip the rest of the saints to do the work of the ministry (which is the language of Ephesians 4) is recognizing that it is the church’s responsibility.
“We haven’t done a good job at this. We need to acknowledge and admit that pastors have not done a good job to recognize the variety, the ecology of vocations that exist within their own church communities. Then think, how do you help the business person? How do you help the educator? How do you help the politician, or the policy maker or whatever the person’s job is? How do we help them connect those dots theologically between their faith and their work? So, I think it starts first and foremost with recognizing that is our responsibility.
“This doesn’t mean that pastors should become experts on every vocation, but pastors can help people ask better questions about their jobs. For example, if it’s true that work was built into God’s world before sin entered the world and fractured and frustrated that process — if it’s true that work was already there and was good — then what is it about sin that has frustrated our work? And let’s have the eyes of faith as we look at our vocations and try to decide: Where has God’s design become corrupted or misdirected by sin? And pick up on those things; pay attention to those things.
“And then start asking questions like: How can I put the gospel at work to help reconcile some of those things, to help fix some of those fractures?”
What about the truck driver? How would you apply these principles to him?
“Recognize first that the truck driver, as everyone else in every other vocation, is already embedded in a web of relationships.
“So — stick with me for a second — we’re embedded in a web of relationships. One relationship that goes [vertically] — between us and God himself. Another relationship that goes [horizontally] between me and other people. There’s another relationship we have with ourselves. And we have a relationship with the rest of creation. And there’s another relationship we don’t talk that much about, which is the relationship with the process of our own work — the actual doing of the work.
“If I’m talking to a truck driver, first of all, I wouldn’t pretend to know all the specifics about what he or she does in their job. But I would start asking questions like that. And I would say, ‘Help me see, how does what you do in your job affect these relationships? Start thinking about that, and let them start to identify some of these things.
“As they identify those answers, ask:
- ‘Where has sin wrought a problem here?
- Where has sin frustrated that?
- Where has sin made it more difficult for you to do your job well?
- Where has sin made it difficult for you to interact with colleagues well?
- Where has sin prevented you in some way or another from loving your neighbor as you should?
- Where are there ways that you could perhaps iron out wrinkles in your job in the way that the company works its fleet of trucks, or the way you schedule your routes?
- Where is there a way that would provide for a deeper sense of spirituality and a way of redeeming the time in how you do your work?’
“These are the kinds of questions we should ask. I would have to let other people pull out the real specifics, but ask them, ‘Does it seem like sin has corrupted or misdirected that, and is there a way to iron out a wrinkle there, to fix a fracture that may be in those relationships?'”