How will the Church in the 21st century “equip the saints for works of service” (Eph. 4:12) for the vast challenges we face in the world today? This seems overwhelming at first blush. But then I remember that God’s people are touching every area of our cities through their daily work, and it’s the Church’s privilege and responsibility to send them to be agents of healing through their vocations.
I recently had the privilege of learning from Matt Rusten, Executive Director of the Made to Flourish Pastors Network. On a call for other leaders in the faith-and-work movement, Rusten and Jeff Haanen, executive director of Denver Institute for Faith & Work, discussed the possibility of leaders and churches agreeing upon a set of minimum standards for the integration of faith and work in local congregations. They discussed that “faith and work” isn’t an “add on” ministry, but instead a vision for the sending of God’s people that should be integral to every church’s philosophy of ministry.
Rusten presented a compelling list of four practices that I believe could be a common starting point for churches that embrace historic teachings about vocation. As presented by Rusten, the four practices intersect with four distinct areas of congregational life: corporate worship, pastoral practice, discipleship/spiritual formation, and mission/outreach.
Here’s a brief summary of each of the four practices:
Four Common Standards for Integrating Faith and Work in Local Congregations
1. Corporate Worship: Pastoral Prayers for Workers (1x per month)
Pray specifically for congregants’ working lives.
General liturgical prayers
2. Pastoral Practice: Workplace Visitation (1x per month)
Visit parishioner’s workplaces.
Onsite - non-participatory
Onsite - participatory
3. Discipleship/Spiritual Formation: Vocational Interviews in Small Groups (regularly)
Interview congregants about their daily work. (Use the following sample questions.)
Give us a picture of a day in the life of your work.
What unique opportunities do you have to love your neighbor through your work?
Where do you experience the brokenness of the world in your work?
How can we pray for you?
4. Mission/Outreach: Asset Mapping Exercise (annual)
Conduct a congregational survey about the varying assets a congregation has that can be deployed for community benefit.
We at the Nashville Institute for Faith and Work heartily commend each of these practices in our network, and eagerly look forward to working with local churches to better equip the saints for works of service.