Spring Creek is a small creek running under Interstate 49 in Northwest Arkansas. On the outer banks of the creek was where Spring Creek Custom Machining was founded. Putting my Business Degree to good use, I worked for Spring Creek after college. This small family owned business was a great growing experience for me. One of the biggest things I learned: Ministry in the workplace is VERY difficult.
At Oklahoma State Cru, one of our keys to success is for students to develop a spiritual legacy on campus before they graduate. Our hope is that if a student can leave a legacy on campus, then they will be equipped to move to the workplace ready to lead as disciple makers. We are constantly trying to help students grow in their ability to fulfill the Great Commission, and for most of our students, this will be done by living on mission in the working world.
To help in this process, at our annual Fall Retreat we gave a seminar on how to have an effective ministry in the workplace. In order to help our students see an authentic viewpoint, I interviewed ten business professionals and asked them about how they minister at work. I was fascinated to hear the results from a wide spread of people. Here is how they answered:
What is the Hardest Aspect to Having Ministry in the Workplace?
Two answers stood out in the interviews. The first was fear. Fear of rejection, being viewed as weird or offending someone. The other common answer was a lack of preparation. These answers are exciting because they are two things we are trying to work through with our leaders within Cru. Understanding our identity in Christ helps us to remove our fear. In addition, we hope to have prepared students to make the transition from college to work well.
What is the Most Helpful thing to Having a Ministry in the Workplace?
The answer that was virtually unanimous was a community. Having a community of believers to encourage you and keep you accountable seems to be the key. Whether the community comes from friends, church or believers at work, having other believers in your corner is essential.
What has been more effective, Ministry Evangelism or Relational Evangelism?
Another near unanimous answer was that relational evangelism has been far more effective than ministry evangelism. Ministry evangelism is where you share Christ with a random stranger. Relational evangelism is where you have an existing connection to someone, and then share Christ with them once you know them. I am not advocating that you should NEVER use ministry evangelism. However, viewing ministry in the workplace as a long-term plan seems to be most effective. For more info on the three modes of Evangelism, see Cru’s article covering them.
How do you balance productivity and being intentional to share?
These answers were the most varied. Here were the most intriguing:
- Engage with people during breaks. Don’t isolate yourself.
- Help others to be productive. If you can, help someone accomplish their task. This will show them you care more about them as a person rather than just your agenda.
- Pray for opportunities to share. Then watch God open doors.
- Drop into someone’s office and listen well! Remember what people talk about and offer to pray. Then actually, pray for them. Then take it a step further and stop in later and tell them you were praying and ask for an update.
- Take someone to lunch and engage with them outside of work.
How do you deal with difficult people that can challenge you?
The most interesting answer to this question was to not take things personally and don’t be entitled. This will allow you to roll with the punches. Soaking up Gods Word and specifically praying for those people was also a common answer. Another fascinating answer to this was to engage with them and take them out to lunch. Building the relationship can make you see the good in someone rather than just the negative.
“Work is not punishment. We were created for it. We will spend most of our life working. We might as well make the most of our opportunity!”
“Practice, practice, practice. Just like anything else in life, sharing the Gospel gets easier the more you do it. Go on a mission trip and share the gospel and you’ll realize that we make it harder and more intimidating than it really is.”
“Don’t wait for their first full-time job to discuss it or think about it, have those conversations now about how to share your faith…”
“Fight entitlement. Work is hard, it isn’t easy. That’s why they call it hard work. Have this mindset going into the workplace.”
Workplace ministry is a difficult task. Yet the return on investment is exponentially great. If students entering the workforce can be intentional to live out the Great Commission in their sphere of influence, and ministers can be effective in training those students, then we can achieve sustained life change for the people of this generation and the next. This is the hope that we have as followers of Christ.
Please leave a comment if you have any tips or additional thoughts on this topic. I would love to hear from you as I am constantly looking for ways to help students minister in the workplace more effectively.