Five Problems Hindering the “Faith in the Workplace” Movement
Recently I encountered a fascinating blog called Shrinking the Camel, written by Bradley J. Moore, that approaches the topic of marketplace Christianity with the same skepticism and realism that we seek to employ here at Greater Seas. One post in particular, titled Five Problems That Are Killing the “Faith in the Workplace” Movement, really caught my attention and inspired me to share my thoughts on this topic as well.
In his article, Bradley lists five things that he believes are hindering the “faith in the workplace” movement – each very good points that are written from an experienced marketplace Christian. While I definitely agree with each of those five culprits, I think there are more worth mentioning. So here are my top five reasons that I believe the “faith in the workplace” movement hasn’t taken the marketplace by storm yet.
1. God’s Heart for the Marketplace.
The biggest problem we have is that people don’t understand God’s heart for the marketplace. We might have bits and pieces, but overall we lack a complete picture of what God really wants to accomplish there. Unfortunately I think people see the workplace as a warehouse full of godless souls sitting on an assembly line, waiting to be converted and brought into the church. We’ve become too focused on converting and recruiting and not focused enough on healing and reconciliation unconditionally. God wants to use the marketplace to bring hope, healing, and blessing to his lost children – not simply provide a playground for zealous Christians to add to their conversion tally.
2. The Church’s War on Society.
Bound4Life is protesting abortion while an absurd number of financial and human resources are spent in the courtroom fighting same sex marriage. I fully understand why this is being done, and I completely agree with what they are standing for. Scripture is very clear about abortion and same sex marriage. What I disagree with is the approach – declaring war on society is counter-productive to our ability to love it as Christ expects. This impacts marketplace ministry because of the relationship between government and commerce. The church is alienating itself from society, who in return is rejecting anything the church has to offer.
You see, when we talk about the marketplace, we aren’t excluding government. You can’t really separate government from commerce; the two are linked at an extremely intimate level. Yet one hand of the church seeks to bring the Gospel to the workplace while the other hand is declaring war on it. That’s a pretty confusing message if you ask me.
3. Most Churches Don’t Know How to Create Value
Do you think people view the church as a nice-to-have, or as a necessity? If you asked this question to a room full of non-Christians in any given community, I’m guessing an overwhelming number of them will tell you that church is a nice-to-have feature. This is because the church doesn’t really understand how to create real value for society, thus it is not viewed as a necessity. This translates to the marketplace because the marketplace is unforgiving – if you don’t create real value for someone then you won’t last very long. The marketplace doesn’t respect the church because most churches don’t create real value for their community.
4. Christians Are Too Cheesy
We don’t know how to relate to non-Christians very well. The way we talk about our faith sounds plain crazy. A friend once told me they appreciated my faith, but the way I described it sounds too much like a Harry Potter film. Ouch. Her point was that Christians don’t take the time to understand their audience (a key component of successful marketing) and instead use language that is completely irrelevant and crazy. You know who else thinks this way? The guys at Christian Marketing Sucks.
5. Entrepreneurs Role in the Church
Please pardon my assault on the church in this post. I actually love the church. However I’ve noticed she doesn’t really know what to do with her entrepreneurs and professionals. Churches struggle to understand where entrepreneurs and professionals fit in. I’ve been in churches where the entrepreneurs were strictly just supposed to be check-writers. It’s terrible. If the church can’t figure out where entrepreneurs fit within its own walls, how is it supposed to mobilize them beyond its walls?
At the end of the day, non-believers need to know the love of God. They need someone to love them, encourage them, and give them hope. That love and hope comes from Jesus. We need to be more responsible with how we communicate the love of God and understand its role in our businesses and careers. Remember, nobody goes to work hoping to be evangelized. Only when someone feels loved and encouraged on a daily basis do they begin to open their hearts to evangelism.
- What are your thoughts on these five barriers to the “faith in the workplace” movement?