Written by Bill Whitt
February 16, 2024
Written by Bill Whitt
At the heart of church renewal is helping people move beyond attending church and move toward being the church. We love when people discover God’s calling on their lives and pursue it seven days a week!
- Many people, though, struggle to find meaning and purpose in the place where they spend most of their time each week — the workplace. They may fail to see how their work can be worship.
I recently attended the 2024 Calvin Symposium on Worship at Calvin University. At a breakout session called “Connecting Worship and the Workplace: Intentional Practices to Promote Vital Faith 24/7,” Artie M. Lindsay, Katie Ritsema-Roelofs, and Kathy Smith shared some valuable ideas. Here were some of my key takeaways:
How to get your church to connect work and worship
Idea 1: Don’t Leave Vocation at the Door
- Many worship services unintentionally draw a boundary between the sacred and the secular by encouraging people to leave their burdens from the week behind for the hour.
- Instead, what if we intentionally acknowledge the challenges of work and invite people to bring those burdens before the Lord? What if we name the reality that work in a fallen world is not always easy? More often, it is broken and frustrating, and we need God’s strength to honor him there.
Idea 2: Share Testimonies from you mission field
- Some churches have “mission moments” during the worship gathering for overseas missionaries. What about the mission God has given each and every one of us?
- Could you set aside five minutes and interview someone about what they will be doing at the same time the next day? They might share a story about how God is at work through their work, as well as how they sense God’s presence, guidance, and grace in their daily tasks.
- Another creative idea would be to have everyone set an alarm for exactly 24 hours later. When the alarm goes off, they would take a picture of their work and email it to the church for use in a montage showing all the places Christ is being represented!
Idea 3: Create a map of your Local mission field
- Missionary maps are also not just for those serving overseas. If each one of us is called to spread the Gospel, why not vividly and prominently display that in your church facilities?
- Could you ask people to place pins on a large map of your city to show where they work? In a liturgy, you might commission them and send them out into the community for their work. Also, in your prayer times, you can pray over each pin.
Idea 4: Use Work-related sermon illustrations and applications
- Jesus constantly applied his teaching in concrete ways that connected with people’s everyday lives. How often do we use illustrations from the workplace that highlight applications there?
- When we use examples from different industries, people can begin to see how each one offers unique opportunities for us to reflect God’s character. Don’t forget: When we talk about vocation, we’re not just talking about doctors, lawyers, and business leaders. We’re also talking about the unique callings of students, stay-at-home moms, and retirees!
Idea 5: Teach a Robust Theology of Work
- While it may be good to share one sermon series per year that focuses on workplace issues, it is also beneficial to consistently communicate a correct way of thinking about vocation year-round.
- Many congregants will naturally veer into one of two extremes — idolizing work or despising work. To the first group, we must remind them that work is not the source of our ultimate identity, worth, security, or significance. To the second group, we must remind them that we worship a God who works and who calls us to join him in his work. He gave us the gift of work as part of creation — not as a result of the fall.
Idea 6: Send People out with a blessing on their work
- As each worship gathering ends, we have the beautiful privilege of sending people out with God’s blessing. We get to charge to serve him faithfully. When we are intentional about the words we choose, we can powerfully set people on the right course for the week ahead, filling it with purpose and meaning.
- We can task them with bringing their faith with them wherever they go, taking hope to the hopeless, and living our Christian principles and values before a watching world. Perhaps we can even send them out with a little reminder of this high calling — something like a candle to help them remember they are the light of the world!