What workers want from their local church
From an article by Made to Flourish
Data from a research project called Faith at Work: An Empirical Study shows how everyday people think about faith and work. They also sought to learn how Christians want their churches to support them in their work.
After surveying thousands of people and conducting follow up interviews with more than 200, several themes have emerged from this research:
Working Christians want their churches to provide encouragement and support for their work
Provide guidance for how to engage faith at work
Have more empathy with respect to the demands of their work.
Many of the interview respondents reflected that they wanted their churches to affirm the spiritual aspect, meaning, and value of work, particularly when that work was in a “secular” context. They wanted to know their work matters to God.
There was a poignant sense from many that they yearned for their work to be meaningful but weren’t sure whether it was. One woman working in social media said, “I’d love for my job to be more spiritually meaningful, but I don’t exactly know how to get there. So, maybe offering ways to help with that, to find meaning in your job that’s not in ministry or in missions or directly working for something that’s faith-related.”
Other respondents indicated they wanted more support for their struggles at work. This was especially true for certain kinds of workers: Those who experienced their jobs as particularly challenging, women, and job seekers. While these people didn’t expect their churches to solve their workplace problems, they did wish their churches would help them with ethical dilemmas, workplace conflict, and stress at work. They mentioned a desire for access to prayer and counselling resources related to work, as well as to small groups focused on specific industries or professions. The people we surveyed also provided examples of practical things that the church community could do to support workers, including hosting job fairs, providing resume workshops, and cultivating workplace networks.
What are the Implications for the local church?
Pastors will have a major role as providers of encouragement and support. Teaching and preaching within the local church can help our people develop a biblical theology of work, one that affirms “the heavenly good of earthly work”. We can help folks think about how their work contributes to God’s work in the world and how their faith gives deeper meaning to so-called “secular” work. We can regularly include in our sermons and teachings applications and illustrations that connect to the real life work challenges faced by congregants.
But it’s clear that what people desire from their churches cannot and should not be provided solely by pastors. Rather, it requires participation by church members in a variety of ways. Congregants can share their own stories. This can happen if a church does “This Time Tomorrow” interviews. But, some of the most effective sharing of work-related joys and challenges happens in small groups, especially when the groups are encouraged to make work a significant theme of their fellowship.
For this to happen, church leaders — both pastors and others — need to consistently and wisely urge their congregations to take work seriously as an essential element of Christian discipleship and worship. Yes, preaching about the importance of work can make a difference. But there is so much more that can be done, especially when pastors and congregants work together to encourage and support folks in their daily work.
Let’s continue helping congregants both feel seen and known, but supported and encouraged in their daily work, whether paid or unpaid, in an office or if they work with their hands for the good of their families and communities.
Read full article here.
See also Five ways church leaders can teach that work matters, Commissioning people for the workplace, Transforming work - small group resource, Thank God It's Monday.
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