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Putting faith to work—what can your Church do to help?

Thursday 28th March 2024

Putting Faith to Work—What Can Your Church do to Help?

Written by Andrew Sloane


Don’t you hate people who are never satisfied? The movie was too long (or loud, or pink); the food undercooked, or too expensive; the day too hot, or… You just can’t do anything right. I reckon people in pastoral ministry have more than their fair share of them.

All too often folk in the faith-at-work movement come across to their pastors as ‘that person.’ They go on and on about how our churches fail to equip people for their Monday to Saturday lives. Pastors just can’t do anything right.

Well, I don’t want to be like that. Not just because I don’t want to be ‘that guy’ (who does?), but because there are lots of things we can do to make our churches both more hospitable to workers, but more effective at equipping people as disciples of Jesus in their everyday lives. Here are a few that I’ve begged, borrowed and stolen, in no particular order.

1. TTT—‘this time tomorrow’.

This is pretty obvious—the sticker tells you what’s in the tin. Set aside 5 minutes in your church gathering to get someone up to tell us: ‘What will you be doing this time tomorrow’ (or perhaps Tuesday or Thursday if Monday is their day off). It could be preparing lunch, or visiting an aged relative, or answering emails or disciplining an errant colleague, or delivering bricks, or… You get the idea. Ask: can you see God at work in this? What worries you, or challenges you about tomorrow? How can you reflect the goodness and order and grace of God? And finish by asking how we can pray for you—and then praying for them there and then, and commissioning them for their week ahead.

2. Commissioning.

Churches have a (good) habit of commissioning new youth leaders, or Sunday School teachers, or whatever. Why not extend the habit? Commission your teachers and child-care workers at the start of the school year (or perhaps the start of term 3—when they face the long months of winter…). Commission plumbers, and brick-layers, and aged-care and disability workers, and healthcare workers, and truck drivers and cabbies, and posties, and factory workers, and gardeners and farmers, and people in hospitality, and emergency workers, and administrators and… Again, you get the idea. A simple thing. Once a month pick a trade, or profession, or job. Acknowledge the ways in which it contributes to the flourishing of our communities and the world, the joys and frustrations and temptations that this kind of work brings. Get them to stand, and then pray for them and send them out into the world in the name of Christ.

3. A specific service.

This one’s a bit bigger. It’s a liturgy, of sorts, a service structured around equipping people for their lives and work in the world. It gives us an opportunity to offer the tools of our trade to God in thanks, worship, repentance, service; and take them up again in thanks, worship, forgiveness, service, and renewal. Here’s how it could work.

  • Preparation. Give notice a week (or two) in advance: each person is to bring an item that represents their primary work (un/paid) to Church. For instance: scrubs; a soccer ball; a calculator; a (clean!) nappy; a broom; a mallet.
  • Reflection. In the service, invite people to hold their object (or write it on a piece of paper) and reflect on the week past. Give thanks for blessing; pray about anxieties, struggles; confess (& repent) of sin and brokenness.
  • Offering. As an act of worship, invite people to bring this object, now loaded with the weight of their prayers, to the Cross (or perhaps communion table). The leader then: leads in confession and ‘absolution’; reminds them that their worship (here and during the week) is acceptable to God in Christ; invites them to leave it there.
  • Commission. At the end of the service (after the sermon and whatever else you do in the service—perhaps it might be an opportunity to focus on work, or some other aspect of everyday life) the worship leader: prays a prayer of consecration; blesses the objects, and the people who use them; invites people to take up their object and commissions them to wield it in service of Christ and the world in the coming week.

As I said, it’s a bit bigger, and something you may want to do once a year—a kind of harvest festival alternative? But it’s actually easier to do than you might think. And the benefits are extraordinary.

Have a go at some of these—and come up with your own ideas about how your church can enrich and bless the everyday lives of those you seek to serve. And let me know how they work. After all, those of us in pastoral and other roles in the church are there to serve and equip those who have been set apart in Christ for works of service—in the world where Jesus calls us to follow him. If you think about it, there’s actually a lot your church can do to help.

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