University Research Study Shows Benefits of WorkLife

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The Church Can Narrow the Sunday-Monday Gap
A Summary of Doctoral Research Study: A Comparison of Protestants in the Workplace, Regent University
By Dr. Mark Walker

The Issue: Faith & Work Disconnect
“I love Sunday. I love Monday. Then there’s my faith, and that’s separate from both. What I don’t really understand is what relationship they have to each other, or what it should be.” This statement is from an interview that was a part of recent research on the significance of the need within organizational workers to integrate their faith at work, yet feeling helpless to do so because faith institutions, like the church, have been inadequate in showing them how. A Sunday-Monday gap has formed within people in the workplace, where their worship experience on Sunday has no relevant meaning to their work experience on Monday. They are living compartmentalized lives causing them to feel incomplete in their work and unsupported by their church.

The Mandate: Church Equips Believers
A primary role of church leaders is to equip the members of the church for ministry and service (Ephesians 4:11-12). Unfortunately, all too often the only ministry and service for which we equip the people is for what occurs within the four walls of the church. Although these are vital ministries and services, the equipping process is not just restricted to these areas but also includes where people are living outside the church walls. Jesus Christ commissioned His followers to “…go and make disciples of all nations...” (Matthew 28:19). The phrase “all nations” literally means “all people groups,” such as the workplace where people spend most of their time, including Christians. Therefore, it seems prudent that pastors and churches evaluate their effectiveness in equipping their members to adequately integrate their Christian faith into their daily work-lives and consider developing a workplace ministry designed to specifically promote and facilitate such a process.

The Opportunity: Help Believers Integrate Their Faith at Work
If church leaders become more intentional and strategic in equipping their members on how to integrate their faith at work, Church workplace ministry proponents believe there are strong benefits for the individual worker, their organizations, and the church. They insist that churches are not doing an adequate job within their normal ministry structures in equipping their members in this process and therefore need to develop intentional and strategic workplace ministries for this purpose. Such advocates further believe that church workplace ministries will develop Christians who have more job satisfaction in their work (job satisfaction), are more servant-oriented in their workplace (Organizational Citizenship Behavior), and are more committed to their jobs (Organizational Commitment). In other words, the more men and women are able to integrate their faith in the workplace the more they will demonstrate high levels of job satisfaction, servant-oriented work behavior, and commitment to their employers.

Through their basic ministry structures most churches are not effectively equipping their members to adequately integrate their Christian faith at work and need a targeted church workplace ministry to do so. It stands to reason that Christians who participate in a church workplace ministry will be more faith integrated at work than Christians who do not participate in a church workplace ministry. In addition, if faith-integrated workers display more job satisfaction, a servant-oriented work style, and a commitment to their employer in the workplace, as workplace ministry practitioners’ claim, then faith-integrated worker should demonstrate higher levels of these three job outcomes than a worker less faith-integrated. Therefore, it seems logical to assume that Christians involved in a church workplace ministry will have a greater measure of job satisfaction, a servant-oriented work style and commitment to their employers than Christians who are uninvolved, which is the premise of this study I conducted recently.

The Results: WorkLife Ministry Impacts Behavior
With the help of WorkLife, Inc., I compared churches that implemented a strategic and active worklife ministry process (WorkLife model) within their church and churches that had no formal worklife ministry. The study argued that the church members from the churches with workplace ministry would be more faith integrated in their work than those church members from the non-worklife ministry churches. The study measured faith integration according to three particular job outcomes of job satisfaction, servant-oriented work style and commitment to their employers. Both groups were compared based on these three outcomes with the belief that the worklife ministry church members would display higher levels of each than the non-worklife ministry church members.

The results indicated that the worklife ministry church members did demonstrate higher levels of job satisfaction and commitment to their employers than the non-worklife ministry church members. Additional results from the research show that members of churches with a worklife focus had a/an:

58% increase in overall satisfaction with their church168% increase in satisfaction with the church equipping process Such findings not only indicate that a church workplace ministry can make a difference in the degree to which a church member integrates his/her faith at work, they also reveal that the worklife ministry process, that WorkLife, Inc. has pioneered, is an effective church workplace ministry model. Our experience with WorkLife is that they are passionate, skilled, and dedicated to helping local churches develop highly effective church workplace ministries and now there is empirical evidence to show that they are having positive results.

Mark Walker, PhD
Senior Pastor, Mount Paran North Church of God

For the full 275 page doctoral dissertation on Princeton University website, click here.