Daily Encouragement Net
“Encourage one another daily” (Hebrews 3:13).
Daily Encouragement Net is devoted to encouraging followers of Jesus Christ.
Agora - Ministry in the workplace
“Agora” is the Greek word for “marketplace”. These brief articles are intended to encourage and equip those with a desire to minister in the workplace.
Articles to Equip
Recently I was speaking to a CEO of a company and he pointed out that he had read that increasingly one’s place of employment is taking on a place of influence surpassing that of the family and church. Although he certainly was not seeing this trend as positive, it is realistically the world we live in. People are less and less connected with the traditional, God-ordained institutions that nourish and support, namely the family and church. Broken marriages and homes are taking their predictable toll. And now so many are only casually connected to a church. I heard recently that George Barna notes that in America some 10 million who claim to be Christian are unchurched.
The lack of connectedness that so many experience is both a tremendous obstacle and a great opportunity in sharing our faith with our fellow workers. We have been strategically planted to bear witness to God’s plan and love for them. So what does this have to do with our witness and ministry in the workplace?
It is imperative that we strengthen our own home and church life. These God-ordained institutions are not going to be replaced, although so many are disconnected from them in the complete crumbling of society as we know it. We will be weak for ministry if we are not receiving the support at home and church.
We must in both active and passive ways demonstrate our love for God, our family and our involvement in our local church. This will be topic if future Agora articles.
Without pride we must recognize the emptiness that they are experiencing (perhaps unknowingly) as they seek to find the fulfillment that only God offers in other ways.
They need our love and concern expressed in a genuine friendship.
I am certainly aware that some reading this are from a broken home themselves. Be assured that God can use you in a very wonderful way as you express your experience in the reconciliation process!
Stephen C. Weber
This article I would like to focus on several "don’ts" that I believe need to be underscored in workplace ministry.
1) Don’t overly focus on your local church. I believe every Christian ought to be a part of a local church and certainly should not be ashamed of the local church they attend. But workplace evangelism should focus on Christ and the need for salvation. If your fellow employees sense you’re primarily trying to get them into your church they may back off. Certainly speak positively about your church (and don’t air its dirty laundry, which virtually every church has). But also speak well of other local churches and ministries that are proclaiming Christ’s truth. When earnest seeking begins or a decision is made you’ve laid the groundwork for a visit to your church if you’ve been enthusiastic and positive about it.
2) Don’t be argumentative. Certainly assertiveness and boldness are needed but an argumentative approach will rarely leads anyone to faith in Christ. If there is a belligerent attitude on the part of the one you’re witnessing to, back off, pray and let your light shine in other ways. They’ll be watching you.
3) Don’t major on minors such as doctrinal distinctives, cultural distinctives, etc. and other areas in which earnest Christians may not agree on. Focus on the fundamental need to repent of sin and turn to Christ for salvation. Remember that you are likely one of several that the Lord is using to impact this individual. I believe the church would be much more effective if we would leave the doctrinal differences for inhouse and focus on the fundamentals in evangelism!
Stephen C. Weber
This issue I want to share a very practical ministry idea that I believe could work for many who desire to make an impact for Christ in the marketplace. This idea will also work for many other ministry and witness applications as well
Essentially I make up small business card size "ministry cards", which are very inexpensive and can pack quite a thought-provoking message. I have distributed thousands in my ministry and many seem to appreciate them and look forward to getting them. When I miss a couple of weeks I will inevitably have people asking me, “don’t you have a card this week?
Business card stock for printers is available at any office supply store or wholesale club for better prices. Even with the printer ink these cards can be made very inexpensively. Tracts are great, but they’re up to about 10 cents now from most suppliers. Plus, a lot of people just won’t read a tract. The intent of the ministry card is to give people something to think about. They just might get placed in a desk, wallet or purse and the Lord only knows the seed you are planting.
Just follow the directions in the business card package. If I can do it about anyone can! A color printer is great but not necessary. Of course the more color and ink the more it costs! Use creativity in formatting. You can even print material on both sides if you desire. (merely run the sheet through the printer again after it dries before ripping the cards apart!!!) You can probably go as small as 8 pt type if needed to get the message to fit but I usually try to keep it at 10 pt.
I also put the URL to the Daily Encouragement Net website on each card <www.dailyencouragement.net>. If you have a ministry website you could do the same. That way people can look to the site for more information.
Make cards with a new message as often as you would like. Since after you make the first set you are working from a template this is very easy. On the other side are some sample messages that I have used with an accompanying Scripture verse.
Stephen C. Weber
The Engle evangelism scale seeks to place people’s openness and receptivity to the truth in Christ on a scale as follows:
-10 Awareness of the supernatural
-9 No effective knowledge of Christianity
-8 Initial Awareness of Christianity
-7 Interest in Christianity
-6 Awareness of basic facts of the Gospel
-5 Grasp of implications of the Gospel
-4 Positive attitude to the Gospel
-3 Awareness of personal need
-2 Challenge and decision to act
-1 Repentance and faith
0 A Disciple is Born!
+1 Evaluation of decision
+2 Initiation into the church
+3 Become part of the process of making other disciples
+4 Growth in understanding of the faith
+5 Growth in Christian character
+6 Discovery and use of gifts
+7 Christian life-style
+8 Stewardship of resources
+10 Openness to others/Effective sharing of faith and life
Obviously our goal is to get those we seek to impact to a +10! Often we limit our sense of fulfillment in service to the extent we at least bring people to a point of repentance and faith leading to salvation.
However we need to realize that often our part may be planting seeds that have an effect of moving people up the negative part of the scale in preparation to receive Christ and at times this impact is very incremental. I feel this is particularly true in mission work as we are going to their turf and they may not have an interest in spiritual things whatsoever.
Stephen C. Weber
Some are unreceptive and we have to slowly whittle away at disinterest, suspicion and rejection.
But I find interesting times when people will talk. A long-time employee had been burned the night before and was in the hospital in critical condition with 2nd and 3rd degree burns. This tragedy got their attention and clearly these hardened hearts were distressed.
The employee who was burned has also been dealing with cancer. He's a Christian and has been very appreciate of our care. He's a very kind man and was well-liked by the other employees. At last inquiry he remains in critical condition. This has further opened up our acceptance and esteem in the eyes of the other employees as well. The owner is pleased at the care we’ve expressed. This is a small picture of what ministry is all about!
Stephen C. Weber
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).
I am on the Lancaster County National Day of Prayer Task Force and we had a wonderful Day of Prayer last Thursday. I hosted a tent encouraging prayer for that part of the world so many of us live in dealing with our work. I have a deep conviction that this is so often an area where believers fail to appropriately express and live out their faith. I feel this is true regardless of whether one is a business owner/leader or an employee. I developed a succinct prayer guide to assist participants in focusing their prayer. I share these thoughts with my fellow chaplains as we pray for the businesses and employees we serve.
* Wisdom in making right decisions.
* Strength & courage to act in integrity, often against the tide.
* Reflecting Christ in the manner in which the business is operated.
* Justness in treatment to employees.
* Commitment to a Biblically-based work ethic.
* Expressing their Christian faith in maintaining a good testimony both in word and deed.
* Opportunities for specific presentations of the Gospel.
* A commitment to proper priorities in regard to God, family and work. *
In expressing the "righteousness that exalts a nation" it's vital that the teachings and standards of the Scriptures impact every area of our life, including our work! Truly we need "righteousness at work."
Stephen C. Weber
“It is God's will that I should be sanctified: that I should avoid sexual immorality.”
(1 Thessalonians 4:3)
Whenever I feel vulnerable to sexual temptation, I find it helpful to review the consequences my action could have:
The above is adapted from a 1988 Leadership Magazine article by Randy Alcorn. I modified it slightly, adding several points and personalizing it.
“I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius” (1 Corinthians 1:14).
One of the things I miss most about pastoring is water baptisms. I really enjoy this particular church function. Not only is it a joyful time to participate in this aspect of discipleship and obedience, but with over 25 years of pastoral service more than a few times I’ve had some funny experiences in water baptisms.
I recall the large Forest Gump type believer (he was about six foot six and surely weighed over three hundred pounds). We were in a mountain stream in north central PA and as we stepped into the icy cold spring runoff I still tried to maintain some dignity to the service. But I can still hear that loud gravelly voice, “This ain’t gonna take very long is it reverend?”
Or the man that I had out in a similar type stream with a deep pool I almost lost after I found out he didn’t swim. Thankfully I have Red Cross lifesaving, which should probably be a requirement for every pastor! I can literally speak of saving someone.
Finally there was the rather large, buoyant lady that I just couldn't seem to get under. This was in a baptismal tank in a church and care had to be taken regarding the amount of water placed in the tank prior to the baptism. Too little and I wouldn't be able to complete the procedure, Too much, well you can imagine the problem with the displaced water.
Yes, water baptisms were a very rewarding part of pastoral ministry and I think most pastors would agree. That’s why the Apostle Paul’s statement in the text is so interesting.
Now I would sure suppose being baptized by the apostle Paul would be pretty neat and I sure would think he would have had plenty of requests. But he states, “I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius.” What gives here? Why is he thankful?
In part it was due to his desire not to get a following. His interest was that people follow Christ, not man. There were divisions in the church in Corinth related to personalities. Paul was not interested in being the most popular, with the most followers. He wanted it to be known that he was but a part of a ministry team (I will write about teamwork in ministry next week.)
I believe Paul is demonstrating a powerful quality of effective ministry called enablement. This is finding fulfillment as we enable others to carry on ministry that we ourselves could do. But by having a ministry of enablement we see our ministry impact extended greatly. I consider Billy Graham and how many evangelists he has encouraged and enabled. I just can’t imagine Billy wondering if someone he enabled was going to cut into his crowd size!
There is no room for selfish possessiveness in the Work of Christ. Great ministries are enabling ministries. Petty ministries seek to limit and control.
We should rejoice when we see another believer finding fulfillment in ministry. We avoid territorial control. We rejoice when a life is helped in Christ whether we are the direct instrument used of God or not. This rejoicing should certainly not be limited to our own ministry either. Perhaps we hear a good report from a local church’s impact or another ministry faithfully presenting the message of Christ.
May the Lord help each of us to practice the ministry of enablement!
Stephen C. Weber
The telephone and/or email can be a powerful ministry tool. A few personalized sentences in an email message or brief call of earnest concern can pack quite a ministry punch.
I group phone and email together in this article as I believe they have a similar impact. They do not necessarily replace a card or written note through snail mail, but are similar in regard to being quick and inexpensive.
The call or email must not be long to be effective. In fact it shouldn’t be! Generally if you don’t have a personal relationship with the person the care expression will be brief. Even if you feel you do have a relationship the contact should still be fairly brief and to the point (perhaps a five minute conversation or one paragraph email message.)
Getting phone numbers and email addresses from others:
The way we express care depends on two factors:
Listen for clues regarding receptivity.
Although you may find it helpful to share of a similar experience you have had or know of remember to listen to their need and keep the focus on them and their situation.
Watch for the trap of excessive chattiness and unnecessary detail.
Offer additional ministry such as a visit if they are open and seem desirous, but remember the brief expression of earnest care through an email or phone call is itself ministry!
Stephen C. Weber
I want to share with you two recent experiences I have had and draw teaching from them. Yesterday I made a visit and as I walked through greeting the people I approached one lady who I knew had recently married another employee in the same company and inquired as to how things were going. “Not so good” she said. It’s a mixed family with six kids, one being a single mother with a child. I can just imagine the challenges they face! I shared with her a few minutes before going back to get a specific piece of literature and a contact card for her. I discretely handed her the booklet and welcomed her to call me for further care.
I approached a man who I have spoken to on numerous occasions. He stood up and opened his heart about challenges he and his wife are facing with their teenage daughter. At one point he had tears in his eyes the burden was so great. I plan to follow-up with an email message acknowledging our visit and my brief recollection of the issue. Of course this opens the door for inquiries into the situation on future visits as well. Recalling issues and inquiring is great ministry and shows it really did matter to you and hopefully we can earnestly say to them “I have prayed regarding your situation.”
Stephen C. Weber