Church leaders play a major role in helping Christians understand their role as ministers in God’s economy of all things.
Here are seven suggestions for how pastors might consider their role in relation to the workers in the congregation.
1. Reconsider “equip the saints.”
Every member is a minister (Eph. 4:11–12). They have gifts in business, education, leadership, woodworking, art, homemaking, and beyond—all areas that fall under the purview of Christ’s kingdom and ache for gifted saints to apply the ways of the King. Must the pastor become an expert in his members’ vocations? No, but he could consider “equipping the saints” with Monday’s cubicle in mind, not just Monday night’s small group.
2. Include all believers in the ministerial roster.
In 2 Corinthians 5:18, Paul reinforces that every member is a minister in the body of Christ. Yet the divide between pastor and pew remains wide in many churches. This divide can—and should—be narrowed by reminding all saints of their role as Christian ministers in their workplaces.
This means that the sacred nature of Sunday stretches into Monday through Saturday, shaping every waking hour, every place and activity. We celebrate work as intrinsically good and meaningful, not merely a means to evangelism and missions. Sharing Christ with coworkers is critical, but we must also appreciate Christian excellence, stewardship, and faithfulness in the believer’s vocational responsibilities.
3. Emphasize excellence in work.
Consider this insight in “Why Work?” by Dorothy Sayers:
No crooked table legs or ill-fitting drawers ever, I dare swear, came out of the carpenter’s shop at Nazareth. Nor, if they did, could anyone believe that they were made by the same hand that made heaven and earth. No piety in the worker will compensate for work that is not true to itself; for any work that is untrue to its own technique is a living lie.
4. Visit your members at work.
What signals respect and appreciation for a member’s work as much as a pastoral visit to the classroom, dealership, warehouse, or farm? Pastors are far better equipped to offer wisdom in complicated circumstances when they have encountered people’s workplaces. Consider building time into your weekly schedule to visit one workplace per week, and get to know the work—the ministry—of your saints.
Pastors are far better equipped to offer wisdom in complicated circumstances when they have encountered people’s workplaces.
5. See God’s grand economy.
If it’s true that saints who are not pastors are nonetheless in ministry, and true that Christ created all things and has authority over all things, how is the variety of vocations represented in our congregation participating in the mission of God? How does each job promote all things good, true, beautiful, just, right, and wise—both spiritually and physically? Asking and answering such questions reveal meaning and intrinsic value in vocations. What a service we offer to our fellow believers when we help them see why their work matters!
6. Pray for saints in all vocations.
Churches often pray for missionaries and church planters as they’re sent to serve other people and places. But why do we seldom pray for the rest of the ministers in the congregation? We’re not suggesting that churches discontinue public prayer for pastors and missionaries, but that they simply include prayer for mechanics, mail carriers, police officers, firefighters, artists, politicians, and educators as they too perform their ministerial duties. As one church in North Carolina prayed for public-school teachers recently, tears filled the eyes of several faithful men and women preparing to return to their ministries in the classroom.
7. Help your people make connections.
Dozens of good books, websites, and centers exist to promote the integration of faith and work. But let us not stop with recommendations. Consider how to infuse these discussions into the life of your church through Sunday school, small groups, sermon applications, and missions.
This article is adapted from Every Waking Hour: An Introduction to Work and Vocation for Christians (Lexham Press, 2016) and is used here by permission.