Across the Table: Business People Have a Message For Pastors

Across the Table: Business People Have a Message For Pastors April 17, 2016


Recently I convened a group of pastors and business leaders with one aim:  to better understand the other.  After a good breakfast and introductions, we broke into 2 groups and the business types answered the following question:

“What would you like your pastor to understand about your life at work?”

The Raw Data:  

Here are 16 points that capture the themes from the business side of the discussion.

  1. It would help us if you’d be more intentional about bringing business people together to dialogue at church.
  2. We feel constant time pressure—the world wants all of us. Please understand this both relationally and in designing church programming.
  3. We would be greatly enriched if it was more obvious that you understand and support us in the face of the specific challenges that are ours in business.
  4. Help us navigate the question of whether or not Christians should be encouraged to do business with other Christians—sometimes “brother and sisters are the worst customers!”
  5. Help us navigate the tension when Christian business people don’t live up to godly standards
  6. Understand that we often feel torn between tithing of time and money and our family responsibilities.
  7. We are affected by the political climate and “threats” to religious liberty. We want to hear you speak to these issues even if they are controversial.
  8. Help us know how to work in a secular world, where there is pressure to keep our mouths shut. What are our rights? What would Jesus have us do amidst the tensions of diversity?
  9. It would be better if the church taught us how to apply biblical principles to business.
  10. It would be better if you encouraged people to get involved in business, particularly as entrepreneurs who start kingdom-minded companies.
  11. Understand that business is hard and risky.
  12. Understand that just because I’m in business, doesn’t mean that I have lots of extra cash for your current campaign.
  13. Make sure you celebrate our calling in business as just that, a blessed calling. (We know when we’re tolerated and when we’re celebrated!).
  14. Make sure the church supports business people who take a stand for faith values.
  15. We want you to understand our world. So if you have not worked in the marketplace (at least in a while), make sure you spend time with those of us who do so you can have an accurate picture of our reality.
  16. We see the kingdom of God as going beyond the four walls of the local church. Please encourage us and equip us to embrace a bigger vision, a vision that includes the arena of work.


Two Reflections

Aside from a good natured and energetic discussion, I took at least two things away from the comments of the business side, two things they are asking for from their pastors:

  1. Empathize with me.  My work is hard sometimes. Business is rough sometimes.  I feel like I’m on my own against some combination of insurmountable relational, spiritual, and/or business odds.
  2. Pastor me.   Show that you understand my world, that God cares about my world, and that his wisdom and ways work in my world.

Empathize with me, pastor me–this is the sum of what this group of 13 business leaders was asking for.


How About You:

If you’re in some type of profession or work other than church work, how would you answer the question?  What would you want your pastor to better understand about your world at work?


For More:  

Check out the Vocational Divide series, 19 posts related to making work better by bringing faith to work with the intentional investment of pastors.

About the Author:  Dr. Chip Roper writes Marketplace Faith from New York City, where he is the director of Marketplace Engagement at the New York City Leadership Center.  Chip is convinced that a central piece of God’s plan for any city or community is the work that people do each day.  You can learn more about him here. Chip is available for speaking, consulting, and coaching engagements. Inquire via email:

Pic: Found here:, not credit or copy write information provided.

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