Author: Larry Peabody
Category: Workplace Ministry
To facilitate a truly global conversation, we ask Christian leaders from around the world to respond to the Global Conversation’s lead articles. These points of view do not necessarily represent the Lausanne Movement. They are designed to stimulate discussion from all points of the compass and from different segments of the Christian community. Please add your perspective by posting a comment so that we can learn and grow together in the unity of the Spirit.
A response to Gordon Preece, Al Miyashita & Willy Kotiuga’s article: Truth and the Workplace
As you say, the church crisis extends beyond the workplace to “an overall lack of commitment to whole-life disciple-making in general.” We produce spectators instead of disciples. We have turned the family-of-God circle into an audience that attends lectures and concerts.
Why? Because we hold to an unbiblical idea of why we gather. We see the purpose as worship. Certainly we should worship 24-7. But the New Testament answer to the “Why meet?” question is that we are to gather to build up, encourage, and spur on one another. Jesus’ new command is all about one-anothering.
I. Howard Marshal, in “How Far Did the Early Christians Worship God?” says, “Worship is obviously an element in Christian meetings, but it is not the principal one.” After an in-depth look at the relevant New Testament passages, Marshall writes, “When a specific function or purpose is ascribed to a church meeting it is not the glorification of God but the building up of the church and the ministry to its members. Church meetings are for the benefit of the congregation and so indirectly for the glory of God.”
Countless church leaders see worship as the primary goal when the church meets. So they naturally resist “interrupting” the agenda for anything as mundane as everyday work. This brings us back to your point about the sacred-secular divide. We’ve raised “worship” to the sacred side of that divide. And we’ve relegated “work” to the secular side.
The UBS New Testament Handbook suggests Ephesians 4:12 can be translated to say that church leaders are to prepare God’s people “for the work people who follow Christ must do.” Clearly the New Testament calls Christ-followers to engage in useful work. Such God-assigned work, then, is not “secular”—and neither is the work of preparing them to do it.
Larry Peabody, USA