As cultural forces increasingly encourage people to keep faith private, more pastors are stepping out of the pulpit and into congregants’ workplaces. Results from national research commissioned by the Center for Faith Work at LeTourneau University uncovered a positive trend: Pastors are eager to visit church members in their workplaces to learn better how to connect Sunday to Monday.
The survey conducted by LifeWay Research found that an impressive eight in ten Protestant pastors surveyed have visited a church member’s workplace in the past year and 98 percent said that they would make time to visit if asked and it was appropriate. “That’s an important trend,” says Bill Peel, Center for Faith Work executive director “and may surprise many church members who consider their pastors too busy to ask for a visit.”
The gap between willingness and practice was also highlighted in the research:
- 22 percent of pastors indicate that they make workplace visits once a week
- 38 percent visited once or twice a month
- 21 percent have made visits less than once a month
“In earlier research we found that 93 percent of pastors believe it’s important to help people integrate faith and work. Over two-thirds of the pastors, however, questioned their understanding of workplace issues,” said Peel. “We wanted to see if pastors were visiting members’ workplaces where they can acquire a better understanding of how to connect Sunday beliefs with Monday behavior.”
“As busy as pastors are,” according to Peel, “more and more are beginning to awaken to the fact that they need to connect Sunday worship with Monday work, where the majority of their church members will spend the majority of their waking hours between Sundays. Failing to connect Sunday and Monday can be spiritually lethal for a congregation and makes Sunday easily forgotten and perhaps seem irrelevant come Monday morning.”
Past leaders concur. C.S. Lewis’ colleague, Dorothy Sayers, asked “How can anyone remain interested in a religion which seems to have no concern with nine-tenths of his life?” Current leaders like Executive Editor at Leadership Journal Skye Jethani agree. Describing the reasons young people are leaving the church, Jethani suggests that many pastors “nibble at the margins” while ignoring what’s at the center of a young adult’s life. “And what is at the center for most young adults? Vocation.” He goes on to say, “[Vocation] is the second significant venue (after family) in which our lives and beliefs are exhibited, and for those without spouse or child it is usually the venue. Despite being a significant focus of Reformation theology for centuries within the Protestant tradition, contemporary churches are largely silent on this central issue of life.”
We believe that pastors need to be able to answer important questions being asked by their congregation that seminary probably didn’t teach. These are questions they can explore with congregation members as they search the Bible together. Questions like:
- Is the work I do outside church important to God?
- What’s the biblical purpose of business?
- What does a robust Monday-morning faith look like?
- What are the ethical dimensions for a Christian in business?
- What kind of corporate culture should I help create as a follower of Christ?
- How should I treat employees as a Christian boss?
- What products and services can, should, and shouldn’t be offered?
- How should I talk about my faith in the workplace?
- How can a business contribute to human flourishing and God’s kingdom?
Since most haven’t spent much time in a business, they can learn a lot from visiting their members’ workplaces.