These days, as we are facing crises on many fronts: credit, ethics, energy, environment, and in the Middle East, there are many opportunities for America’s Christians to step up to the plate as messengers of hope. The main opportunity that must not be overlooked is the one where most Christians spend 60-70 percent of our lives — the workplace. More and more businesses have recognized the bottom-line benefit of allowing people of faith to have an impact on their businesses.
It’s being called the Faith at Work movement and it’s no longer flying below the radar as an increasing number of books and articles are being written on the subject.
Billy Graham stated that the next great move of God would take place in the Workplace. Henry Blackaby, Os Hillman and many other Christian leaders are saying likewise. One minister refers to the workplace as “the final frontier” where outreach opportunities are concerned.
Scores of Fortune 500 businesses have recognized the importance of permitting spiritual expressions at work. They realize that it will only lead to increased productivity, increased loyalty and a decrease in absenteeism and turnover.
A few corporations who’ve embraced the concept include Tyson Foods, Interstate Batteries, Sears, Coca-Cola Bottling, Chik-Fil-A, David Weekly Homes, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco and American LubeFast. There are many others. One widely reported comment comes from Austaco, a large Pizza Hut and Taco Bell franchisee corporation in Texas, which credits its Workplace Chaplaincy program for reducing its annual turnover from 300 percent to 125 percent. Moreover, in the trucking industry, where 100 percent turnover in drivers is not unusual, Allied Holdings has a turnover of four percent, partly, they claim, due to their employee care programs like the Workplace Chaplaincy.
A Wall Street Journal survey revealed an 80 percent dissatisfaction rate among the general workplace population.
More than 90 percent of Christians have never been trained to apply their Biblical faith in the workplace - the place where they spend up to 70 percent of their lives.
Many Christians believe work is a curse while many others are merely trading their time for a paycheck.
Ministry has been wrongly perceived as that which takes place within the walls of a church building.
Christians must begin to see their work is a valid ministry.
Others should encounter Christ in you through your work.
Our lives, our workplaces, our cities and our nations can be transformed by God’s power and presence at Work.
So, why do so many Christians hold back at work? Is it fear? Embarrassment? Most people say they cannot recall ever hearing a sermon that emphasized the importance of their job from Heaven’s perspective. So, they’re unprepared, not realizing that Title VII provides a legal guideline for sharing one’s faith at work.
Why do employers shudder at the thought of a workplace revival? Two reasons: 1) Fear of lawsuits or getting fired and 2) the concern that employees will get so heavenly-minded they’d be of no earthly good.
The truth is, employees who are given that spiritual outlet at work become better producers with an increased loyalty and a reduced absenteeism. With so much workplace crime taking place, employees biting the hand that feeds them, one employer in Grand Saline recently told me, “I’d rather have my staff spend an hour with a Workplace Chaplain, becoming better people, than an hour a day in the smoking lounge gossiping and bickering.”
Yes, Corporate America is catching the vision. Are you?
There are well over 4,000 Workplace Chaplains serving American businesses today. I am one of those Chaplains and all I can say is, “the fields are ripe unto harvest.” According to the International Coalition of Workplace Ministries, there were fewer than 50 workplace ministries in 1992; today there are roughly 1,200. Reflective of that trend is my own ministry TCAW (The Church @ Work), which offers businesses the services of career Workplace Chaplains who combine their own secular workplace experience with ministry training.
Ministry in the workplace is nothing new. In fact, 45 of Jesus’ 52 parables were about work, while 39 of 40 divine encounters in the Book of Acts occurred in workplace settings.
Workplace Ministry can be found throughout the pages of Scripture. The word work is mentioned more than 800 times and the Hebrew word “avodah” is the root from which we get the words “work” and “worship.”
The workplace is a mission field, and although church leaders will encourage their congregations to go out and reach it, rarely do they show them how to reach those whose company they keep for the majority of their lives. Sadly, just as the Christian world is a spiritual ghetto into which most people never stray, so the majority of Christians seem to have an aversion to mixing sacred with secular.
Are you interested in sharing your faith at work? God is on your side, the Law is on your side, and help is available. Just ask.
Mike Tummillo is a Workplace Chaplain, Founder of The Church @ Work (TCAW), headquartered in Stephenville. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org