This article was originally published on Dec. 4, 2015 at the Intersect Project website.
Addressing issues of faith and work may seem insignificant to some pastors. After all, there’s usually some crisis in the world that you need to address publicly or some particular struggle within the congregation to which you need to give attention. And with all that goes on in most churches, we often neglect seemingly mundane issues (like how the gospel affects our work).
But this topic is far too important to be ignored. Here are four reasons why pastors and church leaders should regularly address how faith intersects with the workplace.
1. Your congregation spends most of its week at work.
This is basic logic. If you knew that men and women in your church struggled with a particular issue, you would almost certainly give significant attention to that issue from the pulpit. You may even preach an entire series on the topic.
Addressing how faith and work relate is exactly that sort of issue.
The men and women sitting in your church pews for a few hours each week are sitting at their desk or working at the construction site for much longer. If they work a normal 40-hour workweek, they spend almost a quarter of the hours in a week at their workplace.
Therefore, we fail our congregations if we do not intentionally and specifically connect the gospel to their vocations.
2. Your church members want to know their lives have purpose.
Christians invest decades of their lives to their vocation. They need to know that their work is significant in God’s eyes, but many will not see its importance. As a result, countless men and women struggle with guilt because think they are spending their lives doing ultimately meaningless work.
You can serve your congregation well when you give them a vision for how their vocations align with God’s purposes for the cosmos. Much has been written about the misconception that there is a great divide between sacred and secular work, but the division still persists in many of our congregations. Therefore, you can love your church by showing from the Scriptures that all work is important to God and worthy of dignity, not just the week spent doing mission work in Central America or the pro bono legal work for the local charity.
God created the world so that all work has the potential to be good and glorifying to him.
3. The gospel impacts every area of life.
Jesus told his disciples that the greatest command is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37). Part of loving God with our mind entails thinking well about our work. When the Spirit makes us alive in Christ, our lives are radically reoriented. Your congregation, then, needs to hear how the reign of Christ in their life affects the way they view work.
For example, greedy businessmen need to hear how the sacrifice of Christ draws us to give sacrificially of our resources. Students settling for mediocre grades need to hear that we must pursue excellence because all of God’s work in the world is excellent. And those who have made work a functional idol need to hear that the righteousness of Christ, not the work that we do, is the foundation of our identity.
The gospel alters our understanding and approach to work in a whole host of ways, so you must faithfully and persistently spend time addressing these issues.
4. You will become a better shepherd.
Effective preaching connects the truth of Scripture to the lives of your congregants. As you begin to address the topic of faith and work from the pulpit and in Bible studies, conversations will inevitably ensue — because men and women are dying to hear more about how the gospel affects their work.
Through those discussions with church members, you will gain insight into the struggles they face in their vocations, which will make you a more effective shepherd to the flock. You will learn ways you can pray for church members as they struggle with the difficulty of work in a fallen world. You will grow in your ability to apply the Scriptures to the various vocations in the church.
As a result, wisely and winsomely connecting faith and work is good for you, good for your congregation and ultimately glorifying to God. Let’s not forsake this important responsibility.