Equipping churches have a vision of God at work where their people work
Equipping churches see their people’s daily work as part of the church’s ministry. These churches have begun to ask, ‘Where are our people during the week?’ They have started to develop ways of identifying where their people are and what they are doing during the week. This may be identified as pins on a map, or a photo board, or a PowerPoint presentation of people at work, or a booklet listing people’s jobs and interests. These churches give the people of God a sense that they have been strategically placed by God in their working worlds to make a difference there.
This is Our Church on Monday
Digital photos of people in their work settings are screened during a time for meditation and prayer while a song about the meaning of work is played through the sound system. Some people laugh as they see church members dressed differently than they have ever seen them before. Some in suits and ties. Others in boiler suits, or white coats and rubber gloves.
There is no single model or simple formula. This is about each church embarking on its own journey towards resourcing Christians to serve God in their daily work. Each church must start with the people God has already given it and the places and types of work that already occupy their lives. This is not about heaping extra expectations and obligations on people already struggling to make time for church involvement. These churches affirm that teaching school children how to write is godly work, that excellence in making beds gives glory to Christ, that managing a company budget is good stewardship of God’s creation. Equipping churches offer encouragement and help to add a new sense of purpose to people in their existing weekday lives. It is about churches helping people to hold pressured lives together by better integrating faith and work and family and all of life.
Prayer for Workers
A teacher said to Mark Greene, ‘I spend 45 minutes a week teaching Sunday School and they call me up the front of the church to pray for me. The rest of the week I am a full-time teacher and the church has never prayed for me.’ In contrast, another church is praying for a different group of workers each month. They have gone right through their church list with the aim to include everybody in special prayer for their daily work at least once a year.
Members of the Imagine Project in Britain have worked out that most Christians can give no more than 10 hours per week to church activities (including worship, small group and some other ministry) unless they are employed by the church or have a lot of voluntary time. They have started to ask, ‘How can this 10 hours be best used to equip one another to live well for Christ in the other 110 hours invested in work, family and leisure?’ and ‘What would change if we were really serious about equipping?’ In particular they are asking:
- What would we pray for when we were together?
- How could preaching really help us to live well for Christ, wherever we were?
- What issues would be given most time in leadership meetings?
- What songs would worship leaders choose?
- What would we talk about in small groups?
- What stories would we expect to hear when we came together?
- What criteria would decide whether we had had a good time together?
Neil Hudson, Imagine Church (Nottingham, IVP, 2012) 100-101.