Opening Prayer In A Christian Business Meeting
9 Ways Your Church Can Engage Business Professionals
There is no better way to mobilize the People of God for the work of ministry in the marketplace than through the local church.
However, as Doug Spada says, it can be easy for people to view their local churches as being cruise ships for rest, relaxation, and all-you-can-eat buffets… rather than aircraft carriers intended for rallying and deploying -minded people for a specific mission.
If you’re not on the pastoral staff of your church, you may feel there isn’t much you can do to help your local church get focused on reaching the marketplace for Jesus, the place where 85% of the Christian workforce spends 60-70% of our waking hours.
On the other hand, if you are on the pastoral staff of your church, you may feel overwhelmed by the calling to equip your congregation for ministry in their workplaces. After all, this stuff probably wasn’t taught in your seminary. (It wasn’t taught in mine.)
Whether you’re “in the ministry” all marketplace Christians or “in the equipping” as a local church leader, here are some tips and strategies that can help you to activate your church for ministry in the marketplace.
(Preliminary note: I tend to use the term “marketplace” when speaking of those who work in for-profit companies, which account for approximately 85% of the Christian workforce… yet have very little discipleship training customized for the nuances of the business environment in which they work. I use the broader term “workplace” when including government employees, nonprofit organization employees, students, retirees, stay-at-home parents, etc.)
1: Start a marketplace-oriented small group.
It’s ly that your church has a “small groups” program. This provides a perfect opportunity to start a marketplace-oriented discussion group for business professionals through your church.
Our monthly Entrepreneurs & Inventors Group at my church
I started a group for Christian business professionals that meets at my church once per month.
At our first few meetings, I would pose a question related to the theme of “business and the Bible,” and each member of the group was then asked to give a 90-second response to the question of the night.After everyone had an opportunity to respond, we would have some open dialogue. Each meeting was opened and closed with prayer.
Although those early meetings went well, as I prayed about the meetings, I could sense something was missing. So I asked the group members one night, “Why do you come to these meetings?”
Without exception, every person in attendance responded with something , “I come because I want to learn how to build a business.” They weren’t coming for a Bible study. They wanted to learn how to be better entrepreneurs.
Now, our group is called the “Entrepreneurs and Inventors Mastermind.” Here is the exact agenda we use for each meeting:
- 7:00-7:20pm: Meet & greet, Opening prayer, & Business-related devotional
- 7:21-7:30pm: One pre-selected member presents 2-3 key issues he/she needs help with in his/her business.
- 7:31-8:00pm: Group offers feedback to “hot seat” member concerning the specific issues he/she is facing in his/her business
- 8:01-8:20pm: Any/all group members share and discuss specific issues they are dealing with in their businesses
- 8:21-8:30pm: Prayer requests & Closing prayer
Yes, we pray and discuss something Biblical at each meeting. Though, the simple fact of helping people with the “nuts and bolts” of their businesses inside our church building sends a powerful message to our people that God cares about and has the best insight concerning their business aspirations and challenges.
2: Integrate a workplace-oriented spiritual gifts assessment into your church’s newcomers’ class.
Most churches have some sort of class for newcomers to the church (i.e. “new members class,” “connect class,” “growth track,” etc.) that usually consists of 3-4 sessions.
Often, the ideal desired outcome of these classes is for the newcomer to begin volunteering in an area of the church that is compatible with his/her spiritual gifts. Volunteerism is often used as a means to validate a person’s commitment to the local church.
This class presents an ideal opportunity to mobilize your church family for marketplace ministry from the moment people start attending your church.
To help newcomers discover their spiritual gifts and where they might volunteer in our church, my church has adopted the “Your Spiritual Gifts in the Marketplace” assessment that I created as part of the book The Marketplace Christian: A Practical Guide to Using Your Spiritual Gifts in Business.
My pastor has allowed me to administer this assessment during the final session of our “connect class” for newcomers.
IMPORTANT: We use this assessment as an opportunity not only to encourage the people to volunteer as greeters, nursery workers, etc… but as an opportunity to help them discover how God wants to use their gifts for revealing Jesus in their workplaces throughout the week.
You are welcome to download and use the “Your Spiritual Gifts in the Marketplace” assessment I created and make copies to be used at your church or small group: CLICK TO DOWNLOAD. (Please comment below if you start using it.) The assessment includes access to examples of how 23 different spiritual gifts have been used in a marketplace setting.
3: Encourage your church’s workplace Christians to make a list of five people in their workplaces they’ll commit to reaching with the love of Jesus.
Following some basic evangelism training during your church’s newcomers’ class, I recommend distributing a card with five blank spaces in which people can write down the names of five people in their workplaces they’ll commit to reaching with the love of Jesus (e.g. clients, co-workers, bosses, vendors, etc.). They should commit to praying for, caring for, and sharing the gospel message with each of these seven people.
If each workplace Christian reached just five people in his/her workplace with the love of Jesus by 2020, the entire workplace of approximately 156,000,000 people in the United States would be reached. No matter what nation you live in, your nation can be reached for Jesus via the workplace.
If you and the workplace Christians in your church would be willing to join this movement, signup at www.Love2020.com/Workplace.
4: Formally commission your church’s workplace Christians for ministry in the workplace.
As each group completes your church’s newcomers’ class—at which they will receive basic evangelism training, discover their spiritual gifts, and explore how God wants to use them for ministry in their workplaces as well as in volunteer areas at church—I recommend facilitating a brief commissioning ceremony for these graduates during a Sunday service.
During the commissioning ceremony, bring each graduate in front of the church, ask each person to say his/her name and occupation, commission them, and present to them a commissioning certificate and/or a special coin. Emphasize that these people are commissioned ambassadors of Jesus in their workplaces, functioning as extensions of your local body of believers.
5: Partner with (or start) a local jobs-support ministry.
It’s difficult to do marketplace ministry and be fulfilled in one’s calling while unemployed.
Where do you direct people in your church who are in need of work?
Every week, Northwest Bible Church in Houston provides a place for employers to meet people who are looking for work. It’s a phenomenal ministry called “Between Jobs Ministry.
” Every week, hundreds of out-of-work people attend their weekly job search training and job fair event.In addition to helping them land jobs, the church uses the opportunity to help the attendees explore God’s purpose for which He created them.
If there isn’t a Christian jobs-support ministry this in your area, perhaps God is calling you to start one?
One of the best ways to help people realize that the Christian faith and your local church are not disconnected from their everyday life in the workplace is to have your people share testimonies from the workplace in front of the entire church.
At least monthly in front of the entire church, have at least 1-2 workplace Christians share a testimony of how God is using them for ministry in their workplaces. These testimonies could be pre-recorded on video. I recommend doing a dry run with these people before they get up and speak to the entire congregation.
7: Get your church involved in “Labor Day” Sunday and “Bring a Co-Worker to Church” Sunday.
A great time to launch many of the initiatives listed above and for pastors to preach workplace-themed sermons (or to invite guest speakers who are experts on the topic of workplace ministry) is on the Sunday before Labor Day. I encourage you to put it on your church calendar and commit to making workplace ministry the overall theme for that Sunday.
As you use Labor Day Sunday to mobilize your congregation’s workplace Christians for workplace ministry, consider designating the following Sunday as “Bring a Co-Worker to Church” Sunday.
8: Educate your pastor(s) about the needs of marketplace Christians.
Periodically, my pastor and I have lunch together where I have the opportunity to share with him what marketplace Christians are facing and how the local church can help.
If you’re a marketplace Christian, I strongly recommend having a conversation with your pastor about how the church can disciple Christians for their work in business. Consider inviting your pastor to lunch or to meet with you at your place of work.
You may even want to share this article with your pastor. Your pastor doesn’t need extra work, so reassure your pastor that you are willing to put forth significant effort toward these workplace discipleship initiatives.
9: Identify a point person for marketplace-oriented discipleship in your church.
Most of today’s pastors are not qualified to spearhead marketplace discipleship initiatives. When I attended seminary from 2008-2010, there was no teaching on how to mobilize Christians for ministry in the business world. There was no course on the “theology of business.”
Not only that, most pastors spend almost all of their time engaged in other essential duties such as preparing sermons primarily to help people with private-life matters, going on hospital visits, leading church staff meetings, providing counseling sessions, and figuring out how to facilitate better church services on Sundays. They usually aren’t focused on discipling their people concerning marketplace-related issues.
For these reasons, I recommend that the person who spearheads the marketplace-oriented discipleship initiatives not also be responsible for church duties that would take his/her focus away from the marketplace and the public life of the people in the church. There are already enough church staff focused on the inner workings of the church, and your pastor is probably praying for even more people to help with the internal, day-to-day operations.
Unless someone in your church takes responsibility for discipling people specifically for their work in business and other types of everyday work environments, these marketplace Christians will either leave your church or simply won’t discover God’s will for their work.
If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance that you’re the one God wants to use to disciple the business professionals in your church. God wants to use you to help transform your local church from a comfortable cruise ship to a mission-focused aircraft carrier so that your church can transform your community and disciple nations.
Discussion: In what specific ways is your local church engaging, discipling, and mobilizing the business professionals in your local church for marketplace ministry?
How to Effectively Bring Prayer Into the Workplace
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto/ImagineGolf
As Christian small business owners, we may think that bringing prayer into our place of business is just a matter of choice. While this is technically true, doing so may come at a high cost.
There are a myriad of laws and regulations governing how you, as an employer, can bring religion into the workplace. your size, location, and type of customers, you may be subject to fines, penalties, or even jail time. With so much at stake, is it worth it?
Well, it depends on why you are trying to bring prayer into the workplace. Prayer is a very powerful tool that God has provided to Christians to utilize liberally in all areas of their lives. As Christian entrepreneurs, prayer should be an intricate part of our small businesses, but we must remember that prayer is a weapon.
Are You Just Showing Off with Your Prayers?
all weapons, if we use it improperly chances are that it will backfire on us. How many times have we been guilty of praying the Pharisee in Luke chapter 18. It’s walking into a bank brandishing a chrome plated pistol.
Unless you are planning to rob the place, it probably is not the brightest move. The same goes for our prayers in the workplace. People of other faiths, or no faith at all, may legitimately feel threatened by our bold and brash prayers in the workplace.
So are we just trying to show off with our prayers? If not, then what are we trying to accomplish? Is there a more effective way to utilize prayer in the workplace?
Praying Over Your Small Business
As Christian entrepreneurs, we should take time each morning to pray over our small business, our employees, and our customers. Prayer reminds us that God is in control of our business – something of which we small business owners need to be reminded continually.
It’s also a great idea to gather friends, family, and church members to come together periodically to pray over your business. This is especially helpful during stressful times in your business, or when expanding into new areas. I’ve found blending these three groups makes us more successful.
You might also consider opening this up to members of your staff; however, you need to make sure that they know it is voluntary and that participating (or not) will not be a factor in pay, promotions, employment, etc.
Gather Prayer Requests Informally
Another benefit of prayer is that it forces us to think of the needs of others, and how we might personally be able to help meet those needs. As Christian entrepreneurs, we should have our ears open for ways we can make an impact in our employee’s life.
It’s comforting when hard times strike our lives to hear that someone is praying for us. It can also to be disheartening when they are just empty words. When you pray for your employees, ask what you can personally do to be God’s answer. Show up in meaningful ways in their lives.I still remember one example from when I was an employee. A co-worker’s father had passed away, and the funeral was during the workday. Our employer arranged for transportation for all the employees in our department, and took us to the funeral. Afterward, he took us all to lunch.
He could have just given the day off to that employee most employers; however, he knew that she did not have other family in the area, and that there would be very few people at the funeral. How? He had kept his ears open.
God Hears Silent Prayers Too
Want to say grace at a company event, or perhaps ask God’s direction at the start of a big meeting? Sounds innocent enough, but imagine how you would feel if you were working for a Muslim, Hindu, or follower of Wicken? How would it sound then?
Bradley Moore, author of Shrinking the Camel, recently wrote a post called Spirituality in Business Tip #1: How To Kick Off a Meeting where he talks about an interesting way to start a meeting.
The Quakers have been doing this for centuries.
Instead of making it an overtly pushy Christian thing, you can simply say that you would to begin the meeting by asking everyone to spend a moment in silence, to clear their minds, to take a few deep breaths, to transition from whatever they just came from. It will help them to focus their thoughts on the important work that you are all about to embark on.
What a great idea! I really love this suggestion.
In addition to bringing focus, it gives you an opportunity to say a quick silent prayer before the meeting in a way that is not threatening or uncomfortable to your employees.
Setting Your Small Business Apart
Isn’t it time to start using prayer as a weapon against the evil affecting people’s lives, instead of as an alienating, discriminating, empty gesture. Christianity is not about forcing others to sit uncomfortably as we force our religion down their throats.
It’s about showing up in people’s lives meeting real needs in meaningful ways. The methods above bring true, effective prayer into our small businesses without violating any laws or regulations. Isn’t that what we really want?
What a great way to set your business apart. How do you bring prayer into your small business workplace? To Quote Dr. Phil, “How’s that working for you?”
Have a great way to bring prayer into the workplace?
Let us know by commenting below
as: marketplace ministry