How can we close the gap between Sunday worship and Monday through Friday work? In Monday Morning Atheist Doug Spada writes that many Christians become “Monday Morning Atheists”, working as if there is no God at all. He writes that on Sunday, believers see the world through a spiritual lens, but when they get ready to work on Monday, their behavior all too often can’t be distinguished from anyone else’s. How can church leaders help with this situation? How can we help people see the value of what they do between Sundays?
Hugh Whelchel writes in How Then Should We Work that “Even for many Christians, work is often only a means to an end. Many Christians today have bought into the pagan notion that leisure is good and work is bad. They have also been misled by the sacred/secular distinction, which teaches that working in the church is the only “real” full-time Christian service.” Amy Sherman writes in Kingdom Calling that “We must do a better job of inspiring our members about the role they can play in the mission of God and equipping them to live missionally through their vocation.”
Tim Chester writes in Gospel-Centered Work that work is commended in the Bible as a good thing. It is both a privilege and a blessing. But many still count down the days until they can retire. In Every Good Endeavor, Tim Keller writes that our daily work – whatever it may be – is ultimately an act of worship to the God who called and equipped us to do it. Keller writes that in the beginning God worked. Work was not a necessary evil that came into the picture later. God worked for the sheer joy of it.
Here are several suggestions on what church leaders can do to help church members connect Sunday worship to Monday work:
Tim Chester offers these helpful suggestions:
- Visit people in their workplace to see where they work, meet their colleagues, and pray for them in context.
- Send a regular email to workers in their workplace with a brief “thought for the day”.
- Have a regular “window on the workplace” when you gather as a church, in which someone talks about their work and shares prayer needs.
- Routinely include application to the workplace in sermons and Bible studies.
I found these helpful suggestions from Discipleship with Monday in Mind: How Churches Across the Country are Helping Their People Connect Faith and Work from Made to Flourish:
- To communicate the sacredness of work, many churches have “Faith at Work” interviews during the worship service. One church has also incorporated a version of this in their children’s ministry. The aim is to get children thinking about faith and work at an early age.
- Commission people to specific vocations in the same way you would pray for pastors or foreign missionaries. One church has commissioned those in finance, law, the arts, and the health industry, so far. Commissioning services have a powerful ability to affirm people in their work.
- Instead of a traditional adult Sunday School, one church hosted a seminar series called Vocare. The purpose of the seminar was to explore the intersection between the gospel culture and vocation, thinking through how we live out our call as God’s people in the world in light of the challenges and opportunities of our cultural moment.
- One church, in place of Vacation Bible School, started an “All of Life” camp. The church takes children who attend the camp to various workplaces where adults are working, and they talk about their work. The goal is to give these students a rich experience within that particular work context. Another example is a church in Central Illinois at which I’ve spoken at twice. They have replaced Vacation Bible School, with a “By the Way” conference, which will serve all ages, not just those who would attend a Vacation Bible School.
- Some churches have started vocational affinity groups. The idea is to place Christians who serve in the same industry in a small group for mutual encouragement and instruction.
- One church launched industry roundtables, which were organized around vocations. These were mid-size communities, organized around a particular industry. The purpose of the groups was to explore “theology, ethics, best practices, tensions, and networking.”
These are a few helpful suggestions on how church leaders can help their members connect Sunday worship to Monday work. What other suggestions do you have?