20 Years Supporting Women in The Workplace Through Bible Study (Video)
Nancy Erisman, Leader of the Women in the Workplace Bible Study, says that studying the bible with a group of women workers has been impactful in many ways over the long haul.
In addition to the Theology of Work Bible Studies listed to the right, Erisman mentions free bible studies available from Made to Matter. She also recommends Every Good Endeavor as an introductory text book for small groups. Nancy has written a bible study companion to Every Good Endeavor which you can download as a pdf here.
My name is Nancy Erisman. I've been leading a small group: Women in the Workplace Bible Study since 1997. We meet in a Starbucks because we're in the Seattle area, and we meet at seven in the morning before work every other Thursday. We've studied a variety of things and we've had a wonderful time together. I'd like to tell you a little bit about that.
First of all, there are three reasons why I think it's important for our group to be together. One of them is affirmation. It just lets these women in the workplace know that God cares about their work, and it affirms them in living out their faith in the workplace.
How we do that is our second point. That's through connection. It's really important that we live in community and not try to go it alone. I had one woman say that she just felt so alone in the workplace until she got into our group and realized there were other women out there in buildings all surrounding her who were also Christians. It just gave her such an encouragement. We need a community of like-minded people that we can share our issues with from the workplace. We need to know that there's somebody that's going to understand. And quite often somebody has been through the same thing can help us along. We can pray for each other and just really live life together. Learn from each other.
A third reason is that it's an inspiration because we always have a Bible study that goes along this. Our foundation is the Word and what it has to say about our daily work.
We've done this in a number of ways. I started out by writing a study myself, because there wasn't much available at the time. I called it "The Meaning of Work" and we looked at Genesis 1 through 3 and then on into the New Testament about creation, fall and then redemption, and what all of those stages said about how God views our work.
I also use some Bible studies called "30 Moments Christians Face in the Workplace." These are still available online from Made To Matter.
We've done a number of other topical studies. We studied leadership principles from the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, Fruits of the Spirit, and all of these were an adaptation to the workplace and what this looks like when we live out these concepts in the workplace.
We studied books like Esther and Ecclesiastes, Philippians and Colossians. Right now we're finishing a study of Ruth. These are from the Theology of Work. I find them a very good historic bible study resource.
Right now one of the books that we study that I believe is the best textbook for theology of work is Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller and Katherine Alsdorf. I wrote some study questions for this that other people are using now as well. It's been an excellent way of getting an overview of what God has to say about our work and some really good guidelines for us to live out our faith.
So it's been a wonderful experience for me. I've had very good response from the other women. We've had responses such as, "I never thought about praying for my work before!" and "I didn't know that God really cared about what I do in the workplace!" So it's been a very meaningful experience for me and I would encourage you to get involved