Mark D. Roberts

Mark D. Roberts


God at Work: An Appendix for the Laity (Section 4)

posted by Mark D. Roberts

In the series: God at Work: A Review of the Book by David Miller
Permalink for this post
/ Permalink for this series

So far I have put up the following recommendations for lay people who want to help their churches be more supportive of their effort to live out their faith at work:

Recommendation #1: Invest in Christian fellowship and help your fellowship to deal with issues of faith at work.
Recommendation #2: Talk it up.
Recommendation #3: Gather people with common concerns and vision.
Recommendation #4: Help members of your church become familiar with faith at work resources.

Today I’ll add one more.
Recommendation #5: Ask your pastor for help.
David Miller, in God at Work, explains that most pastors aren’t especially helpful when it comes to faith at work efforts. There are many reasons for this, including: ignorance, insecurity, theological misgivings about business, lack of personal experience, etc. Of course there are also some pastors who are so invested in building their own church that they aren’t eager to have their people ministering outside of church.
I believe, however, that the vast majority of pastors truly want to help their people grow in their Christian discipleship as they live in the world, including the world of work. I expect that 90% of pastors would respond favorably to a request from a church member for help in this area. Of course the kinds of pastoral responses would vary widely. But something positive would come from a conversation in which a person says, “Pastor, I really need your help with this.”
Please notice carefully what I am saying . . . and not saying. If you’re a lay person in a church with a pastor who hasn’t done much with faith at work issues, I am NOT encouraging you to complain and criticize. Unfortunately, that’s the approach some folks take with their pastors, and it’s not helpful. Ask me for help with something and I’m glad to oblige. Come at me with criticism and I’m apt to hide behind my defenses. Pastors are human, after all. In fact, in my experience, pastors are often more sensitive than the average person, and are therefore quite vulnerable to criticism. So, if you approach your pastor, why not try something like this (in a nutshell):

Pastor, I’ve recently been learning a lot about my calling to serve Christ in my workplace. This is new for me, and I’m excited about it. But there is so much I don’t know. I need both support and guidance. I’m wondering if you could help. Now I know you have a lot on your plate already. I’m not necessarily asking you to do more things. But I thought I’d come to you for some ideas and direction. Also, I want you to know what I’ve discovered and how exciting it is for me.

As someone who served as a pastor for over 23 years, I can tell you that I’d have loved to get this sort of request when I was in parish ministry.
Now, let me add that a wise pastor will not just offer help, but also will ask you to get involved in the solution. If you had come to me with this sort of request, I can imagine that I’d ask you to help organize a class or a workshop. Maybe I’d invite you to do a lay witness in church or to write an article for the church newsletter. This wouldn’t be a result simply of my busyness and not wanting to take on more things. It would flow from my commitment to lay ministry, both in church and in the world. (Photo: The chancel of St. Mark Presbyterian Church in Boerne, Texas, where I worship each week when I’m in town. I now have a pastor named John Watson. Technically, I’m still an ordained Presbyterian pastor. But in ordinary life I’m rather like any other lay person in the church.)
When you talk with your pastor, you might even offer to do something proactive like organizing a class or whatever. When a member of my church came to me, not only with ideas, but with an offer to help, I was more than happy to team up with this person. Sometimes I’d send him or her to another church leader. But I often got involved myself, at least for a while.
If your pastor wants to help but isn’t sure what to do, you might suggest some of the resources I mentioned in my last post. Send your pastor to the website of R. Paul Stevens or to The High Calling of Our Daily Work.org. (In fact, to share a little secret, the leaders of The High Calling and I are working on a pastor’s page, that would have lots of resources for pastors. This is still on the drawing board, but I expect we’ll do it down the road a piece.)
As I look back on my ministry at Irvine Presbyterian, I feel good about much of what I did in support of lay ministry in the workplace. I could have done a short preaching series on faith at work, though I think it was effective to integrate faith at work illustrations into my ordinary preaching. I do wish we had done more in worship to highlight and celebrate workplace ministry. In a comment on one of my recent blog posts, Kyler says this:

In J.P. Moreland’s “Love Your God with All Your Mind”, he tells of a congregation that, week after week, had people of various professions come forward to be, not quite ordained, but “commissioned” for service–the businesspeople, the scientists, the artists, and so on. The service envisioned in Moreland’s particular example was primarily to be performed within the church (the scientists might be the congregation’s “go-to” people for insight on the creation/evolution/intelligent design debate, for example), but it is at least a start. There’s nothing preventing any congregation taking this model of commissioning “regular” members and applying it to service to the Kingdom of God performed outside of the church.

In retrospect, I wish we had done this sort of commissioning in worship. Perhaps some of my blog-reading pastors will do it and let me know how it goes.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(1)
post a comment
Sam

posted January 26, 2008 at 11:05 pm


Thanks for the great post, Mark!
Check-out Moreland’s Kingdom Triangle (www.kingdomtriangle.com) book for even more about this theme of living life with an expansive vision for the kingdom of God, which is more than just a “religious” realm or role.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Mark D. Roberts. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!  

posted 2:09:11pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Why Did Jesus Have to Die? Conclusions
In this series on the death of Jesus, I have presented four different perspectives on why Jesus had to die: Roman, Jewish, Jesus’, and Early Christian. I believe that each of these points of view has merit, and that we cannot fully understand the necessity of Jesus’ death without taking them all

posted 2:47:39am Apr. 11, 2011 | read full post »

Sunday Inspiration from the High Calling
Can We Find God in the City? Psalm 48:1-14 Go, inspect the city of Jerusalem. Walk around and count the many towers. Take note of the fortified walls, and tour all the citadels, that you may describe them to future generations. For that is what God is like. He is our God forever and ever,

posted 2:05:51am Apr. 10, 2011 | read full post »

Why Did Jesus Have to Die? The Perspective of the First Christians, Part 3
An Act and Symbol of Love Perhaps one of the most startling of the early Christian interpretations of the cross was that it was all about love. It’s easy in our day, when crosses are religious symbols, attractive ornaments, and trendy jewelry to associate the cross with love. But, in the first

posted 2:41:47am Apr. 08, 2011 | read full post »

Why Did Jesus Have to Die? The Perspective of the First Christians, Part 2
The Means of Reconciliation In my last post, I examined one of the very earliest Christian statements of the purpose of Jesus’ death. According to the tradition encapsulated in 1 Corinthians 15, Jesus died “for our sins in accordance with the scriptures” (15:3). Yet this text doesn’t expl

posted 2:30:03am Apr. 07, 2011 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.