RETURN ON INVOLVEMENT™
“HOW do I start integrating my faith with my work”?
This is one of the most common questions we receive within At Work on Purpose. The Christian community is beginning to awaken to the idea of faith at work, and beginning to explore the WHY and the WHAT. However, in a work world largely disconnected from God, governed by a secular philosophy that discourages faith expression, and lacking in Christian role models, HOW becomes a profound question.
Most of us attend local churches where we find a significant support system for home, family, and community. But what about work? The sad reality is that most of us walk through the work week feeling spiritually isolated, discouraged, and even paralyzed. When it comes to integrating faith and work, our best examples do not come from contemporary Christian practice, but rather from the pragmatic approach of the early church.
One of the most helpful HOW passages is in Luke 10, where Jesus sends out 72 followers, in teams of two, to share the Good News of Christ to surrounding towns and villages. Through this scripture, Jesus offers a process for building ministry into everyday work life. Ed Silvoso, a pioneer in marketplace ministry, documents the power of this process in his book Prayer Evangelism.
1. The first step comes from Luke 10:5, to BLESS the people and places we encounter: “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to the house.’” For Christians today, a work place blessing could be as simple as lifting up a prayer for our employer as we drive into the company parking lot, or offering a friendly greeting to the receptionist as we walk into the office. These blessings are a simple but important spiritual starting point to positive attitudes and potential relationships.
2. The second step, from Luke 10:7, is to FELLOWSHIP with those to whom we have connected: “Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you . . . “ For working Christians today, fellowship could be as simple as taking all of our colleagues out to lunch over the course of a year, or chatting with them during a work break, so that we can come to understand them better as people. Even in today’s jam-packed work world, it’s still possible to set aside time to get to know our colleagues. Even if some of the fellowship takes place outside of work hours, this is a foundational opportunity for relationship building.
3. The third step, from Luke 10:9a, is to MINISTER to the felt needs of the people around us: “Heal the sick who are there . . .” For working Christians today, this ministry might be as simple as helping a colleague fix a frozen computer screen, or lending a hand to cover some tasks at work for a colleague who is on vacation. In this ministry step, always remember that work is simply a starting point for the identification of needs. When felt needs emerge, they may relate to work life OR to life outside of work. At the end of the day, the distinction doesn’t matter spiritually – we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ no matter where we are, no matter the time of day, no matter the issue at hand.
4. The fourth step, from Luke 10:9b, is to PROCLAIM Christ as the reason for our motivation to serve: “. . . and tell them, ‘The Kingdom of God is near you’ . . . “ This opportunity for sharing faith in Christ might happen when the people you help at work thank you, and ask why you cared enough to “go the extra mile” on their behalf. When they ask, they have created an opportunity for you to share your faith testimony at work. The phrase our modern work world uses for this approach is “permission based” – sharing our faith as we are asked to share it. When God opens these doors, it is important for us to walk through them. We are not spiritually responsible for the outcome of the conversation, but we are spiritually responsible for undertaking the effort.
Always remember that spiritual receptivity rests with our sovereign God, and the choices of the people who hear the Good News of Christ. According to George Barna, only 6% of adults hearing the Gospel will accept Jesus Christ as their savior. Statistically, that means we need to do a lot of Gospel sharing for every priceless soul we help to find eternal security in Christ!
What a joy it is, though, when our efforts become part of someone making a faith commitment. When this happens, work can become one of the most important arenas for discipleship – maturing ourselves and others in Christ. You see, we typically spend only an hour or two per week in a local church community, but we spend 40 to 60 hours per week interacting at work. Even a local church with strong discipleship programming cannot compare to the sheer volume of “face time” generated by full-time work lives tuned into spiritual formation.
5. Discipleship, in other words, is a fifth step for those who come to faith in Christ. Jesus alludes to this later in Luke 10:27-28, the parable of the Good Samaritan. In this scripture, Jesus describes a working man whose example becomes a form of situational discipleship to those around him. The Good Samaritan takes care of a seriously injured person he finds on the road, in a comprehensive way that “makes a statement” to believers and non-believers alike. The Good Samaritan also establishes a teaching opportunity through the theme of caring for those around us, even complete strangers. Finally, he demonstrates that our daily work lives create a wide range of discipling circumstances, much more varied than in traditional “book learning.”
Jesus ties the parable together with scripture in Luke 10:27-28, where He emphasizes the Great Commandment, to “. . . ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’, and to ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” The Good Samaritan demonstrates vividly that the “neighbor” in our lives can easily be a person we encounter at work, who can then encounter Christ through us!
Through the scripture of Luke 10, Jesus has offered us a clear process for ministering to those around us, and these people comprise our sphere of influence – or our congregation – from a ministry point of view. We can identify specific groups of people, or constituencies, inside our sphere of influence. For example, teachers would have people groups including students, parents of the students, faculty members, administrative staff, teaching colleagues at large, and even the surrounding community.
Imagine how powerful it would be to have Christian teachers ministering through their work by applying Jesus’ five steps of evangelism and discipleship with each constituent group in their congregations through a customized approach. We have developed a tool for this within At Work on Purpose that we call ROI™, or Return on Involvement. When you click below to view ROI™, consider how much intentionality and organization this can bring to your ministry at work. The rows present the five steps of evangelism and discipleship. The columns present the people groups receiving ministry. The cells in the grid present opportunities for customized ministry initiatives to the people around us at work.