Excerpted from Work as Worship: How Your Labor Becomes Your Legacy
In my conversation with marketplace ministry expert Mark Goldstein, I asked how workplace worship relates to today’s church. Here’s part of what he said:
If you ask the average pastor, most will admit they really don’t understand business and businesspeople. And they don’t know how to equip businesspeople in the marketplace.
It’s marketplace ministry—the business community—that connects Sunday to Sunday. It allows you to apply all the theoretical, all the theological information you are learning at church.
You get to apply that in environments that are sometimes unsafe. You’re going to know very quickly if it all holds water. If your faith cannot be applied, it’s not faith. It has to go from head to heart to hands and outward.
That’s what marketplace ministry allows. That’s what being in business allows. That’s why you can worship on Sunday or whatever day you worship, and you can continue to worship in a different venue throughout the week because of all the things you are taking from that worship service.
Should churches be more engaged with businesses, with marketplace ministry? Some are doing it, some aren’t. Could it be better? Yes.
My advice to pastors is to engage with your businesspeople. Ask them:
- What is your business challenge in the marketplace?
- What are your fears?
- What wakes you up at three o’clock in the morning?
- How are you dealing with those challenging people?
- How do you love the unlovely?
- How do you determine how much you’re going to pay people?
- How do you balance your profits?
- How do you determine where you are going to draw the line as to what are acceptable business practices?
Find out what they need and speak to that. Work with them on it. Create business groups in the church. Spend time with your businesspeople at their workplaces.
If they own a restaurant, spend a day there working in the kitchen, serving tables, working the cash register, whatever. If they have an insurance agency, spend some time in their office learning what they do. If it’s a printer, go there and learn what some of the challenges are. Get to know them in their work environment so you understand what they need.
Pastors need to put on a business hat and say, “Okay, what are some of the practical, tangible needs of businesspeople?” and speak to that. Maybe once a month preach business-related, nuts and bolts, practical sermons on dealing with whatever they’ve identified as an important issue. That’s one way pastors can serve the businesspeople in their congregations.
Another way pastors can serve businesspeople is by helping to equip them, to empower them to take the theological and make it practical, to encourage and support them in the marketplace. When that happens, it’s good for the businessperson, it’s good for their company, and it’s good for the church. Those people who are engaging in the marketplace are out there meeting people, and people who are drawn to them will inevitably ask them where they go to church.
That’s a perfect opportunity for businesspeople to invite other people to church. But are they going to look good when someone they invite comes to your church? Are the guests going to get something relevant when they come to your church?
That’s where a pastor’s collaboration and partnership with members of the congregation who are in business comes in.
Businesspeople in the marketplace have the potential to have more impact in any given week than a pastor has in a year. Pastors need to recognize that and work with it.
There are business practices that can be brought into churches to help them run more efficiently and do their ministries more effectively. Business leaders can be a blessing to pastors in more ways than by giving money and serving as deacons and elders. They can give good, practical help.