Bridging that gap is one of the main purposes of this blog. And recently at the Kern Pastors Network site Aaron Brockmeier was thinking about the same question:
Over the past year, through the encouragement of The Kern Family Foundation, I’ve been studying the integration of faith and work. I still have many questions, but as I mentioned in my previous article, I think this is a key and overlooked biblical teaching by pastors – especially me!
A leader in my church wrote this to me after I shared with him some of the resources on work and faith integration. “To be blunt, at our church at this point we have a huge gap in this area.” I’ve been the sole pastor at my church for more than five years, so I take responsibility for much of this division.
Aaron has four suggestions he’s trying to follow; if you’re a pastor, they’re worth reading (and if you’re not, they’re still worth reading, and maybe forwarding to your pastor. ) First, two things to prepare yourself:
1) Engage theologically.
If you have not purposefully engaged and theologically wrestled with how work and faith fit together, begin to now.
One great resource for doing this is the new Biblical commentary on work being released in October by the Theology of Work Project. We try to point out others on this blog all the time, too.
2) Speak to all vocations.
As pastors, we need to be clear that all may not be called into vocational ministry, but all are called to be faithful in whatever vocation God has placed them. To do this, we must do more than just encourage people to witness to their coworkers. We must teach how Christians can faithfully live out their faith at work, whether as missionaries or as carpenters.
Then, two things to do:
3) Tell work stories.
….not just illustrations from the world of pastors and missionaries:
Unlike the topic of weather, unless you work with a very specific demographic, there is not a common vocation at your church. Consider the vocations of the people you pastor. Do your illustrations and stories reflect what they are familiar with, or just the work you know? Let’s be purposeful to tell a variety of stories so the homemaker, the truck driver, and the salesperson might find something in common when we speak as pastors.
4) Go to work.
Pastors visit hospitals–why not other places?
A pastor does not need to be bi-vocational to be able to do this. Many pastors do this when they make visits to hospitals and nursing homes, or partner with law enforcement and emergency services as chaplains. Those who pastor in smaller towns or communities probably engage in this naturally as their day-to-day life overlaps with their parishioners….. Purposefully seek out ways to visit your people at work. One simple way to do this is to limit meeting people at coffee shops or restaurants and instead, set up times to meet at their work locations.
This will, of course, also broaden the range of sermon illustration possibilities!
You can read the rest of Aaron’s post, and other resources for bridging the gap, at the KPN site. Image: KPN.