Religion

Reclaiming the Church Mountain

By Os Hillman
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11).Dr. Henry Blackaby sees a vacuum in the area of the local church when it comes to equipping men and women in their work life callings. Blackaby speaks to many church leaders every year about equipping those in the workplace. He is personally equipping leaders in the marketplace because he see this as the only place we will see societal change.

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11).

Pastor Sunday Adelaja is the Founder and Senior Pastor of The Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God for All Nations in Kyiv, Ukraine. He is a pastor who is a change agent in Europe and throughout the world through his calling as pastor to the largest and fastest growing church in Europe. Born and raised in Nigeria, he successfully pastors a congregation consisting of 99% white Europeans in a racially sensitive country. The church is situated in Kiev, and has 600 daughter churches in different parts of Ukraine, Europe and over 45 countries of the world. Pastor Sunday, as he now fondly called, came to Eastern Europe more than 21years ago to study journalism, but later felt called by God to plant a church that would one day become a mega church of over 25,000 people.

Although he grew up in poverty in Africa, today he plays an active role in the political and social life of Ukraine, and is acknowledged by many world political leaders for his spiritual and practical leadership across the world. He is also recognized as an influencing factor in political change in Ukraine, called the Orange Revolution. Pastor Sunday opened the U.S. Senate in prayer April 23rd, 2007 and also to spoke at the United Nations on August 23rd, 2007. National and international media have reported on his work, such as Reuters, Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, BBC, Forbes, and others.

Pastor Sunday authored a book called Church Shift and describes why many churches have been ineffective at changing culture. He believes that the local church is called to change culture in all spheres of society, especially the seven mountains. "God is not terribly concerned with church size and church ministries. These are all sidelights to His main goal, which is for all nations to walk after Him in Kingdom principles. The church fulfills its mandate when it changes society, not when it's confined to its sanctuary and Sunday school classrooms. The church is to build the Kingdom of God in a nation. The Kingdom must overflow into streets and workplaces, governments and entertainment venues. If you try to keep it to yourself, you lose it. And we didn't want to lose it."

Pastor Sunday appears to understand how to equip and release his congregation in a way that impacts culture. "Too many Christians and Christian leaders spend their energy, creativity, and precious time promoting churches instead of the Kingdom. They work for the success of their church, or perhaps for a group of churches in their city, or they work for their ministry or denomination. They believe that by building churches and ministries they are building the Kingdom. They think church and Kingdom are practically synonymous. This isolation of the church from the world has led to ineffectiveness and failure to carry out the Great Commission.

But the local church is not the Kingdom. Jesus said in Luke 17:21, "Nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the Kingdom of God is within you. It's not confined to temples and churches. No church can contain or control the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is meant to inhabit the entire earth, not just your church sanctuary."[1]

Pastor Sunday believes they are to be proactive about changing the culture. "Because God wanted to do something in the Ukraine that was much bigger than our 'big church' or me, He graciously taught us to take a proactive position in society, to go outside our building and enforce His authority over an ungodly nation and government. Today many people sit in church pews hoping to make it to the Kingdom of God, and they don't realize that, according to Jesus, the Kingdom is here and now. Nobody has to die to see the Kingdom. We are as close as we will ever get. Jesus didn't leave the Kingdom of God in heaven when He came to Earth. He brought it with Him. The born-again believer is in the Kingdom at this moment. We can stop hoping for it - it came two thousand years ago, and it is present with us now," he says.

Dr. Henry Blackaby sees a vacuum in the area of the local church when it comes to equipping men and women in their work life callings. Blackaby speaks to many church leaders every year about equipping those in the workplace. He is personally equipping leaders in the marketplace because he see this as the only place we will see societal change.

In an interview I did with Henry Blackaby he offered the following comments:

"If someone were to ask me right now where do I sense the greatest potential for revival, I'd say in corporate America, because I relate to about 130 CEOs of the Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies. Most of all of them got through Experiencing God, and they've said, we want an hour-long conference call. I have eight to ten of them on a call, and about 10 different conference calls. And they're saying, "How do we experience God in corporate America?" And I said, "I'll tell you. Let me help you." And I would say it's much, much easier for me to guide corporate America than it is within the church community.

These CEOs are making huge decisions, and many of them are personally connected to government leaders and the President's Cabinet. They're saying, "How can we use our lives?" For instance, I have heard some of them say, "We're convinced that the way to control TV is to make it family friendly, but this must be done through sponsorship." So the executives said, "We are not going to sponsor any programming that is going to destroy our moral fiber as a nation."

Now a lot of these changes in philosophy came out of their studying Experiencing God. One of the men in our group is amulti-billionaire that already had a deep commitment to have a controlling interest in all the theatres in America, and he controls one major theatre chain. He desires to help bring family friendly movies in the theatres in America. These executives are saying, "How can we affect the value system?"

I asked Dr. Blackaby why the local church has been so ineffective at equipping men and women in the workplace. "We need spiritual leaders to guide them. I find very few spiritual leaders understand the role of the marketplace in the mind of God. I hear leaders speak and they never address that issue. It is as if they are totally oblivious to the need to equip these leaders. When I preach on this and why they need to equip leaders in the marketplace, I get a tremendous response. If the churches ever caught the ways of God toward the marketplace, everything would be different. Right now they are telling marketplace people to come and help them build their church. They have it backwards. They are supposed to be equipping them for their role in the marketplace. When I tell them that, the lights come on. Many pastors repent when they realize they have it backwards. Churches totally turn around when they change their focus."

 

The Local Church as an Equipping Center

In random surveys among people and groups over the last fifteen years of working in the faith and work arena, I have asked this question: "How many of you have been intentionally trained at your local church to apply biblical faith in your work life? That means you have been in a Bible study, heard a sermon series, or had a training course on applying biblical faith at work." The percentage of hands that go up is consistent-3 to 5 percent. The job to make this shift among church members and church leaders is still enormous.

One study conducted several years ago by the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity found that 47 percent of people surveyed say that the preaching and teaching they receive is irrelevant to their daily lives. Given these statistics, it is no wonder the average Christian has had no spiritual impact on their workplace and has been unable to integrate their faith life into their work life. Relevance is the key word here. The average church member finds no relevance in their church experience and what they are taught about their daily work life. Dr. Eddie Gibbs, a Fuller Seminary professor once made the amazing statement, "I teach students who spend $40,000 to learn a language no one understands." Fortunately, this is slowly changing.

Doug Spada's Atlanta-based WorkLife ministry is one of the pioneering efforts to equip the local church to focus on faith at work issues. Spada's ministry does this by creating the infrastructure for a sustainable work-life ministry. His ultimate vision is that churches will send out members to minister in the workplace, just as missionaries are sent out to foreign lands. "We help people launch full-blown work life ministries within their church," Spada explained. Spada's group has had the most penetration of any group into some of the largest and most influential churches in America. He has consulted with Rick Warren's Saddleback Church, Discovery Church in Orlando, Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, the largest and most recognized mainline Presbyterian church in America, to name only a few. He has worked with some churches that are now taking seriously the seven mountain mandate and are adapting strategy to reach their seven mountains of cultural influence within their cities.

Spada has coined a phrase that has helped him relate to local church leaders in trying to help them see the problem that exists inside the local churches. "Many churches are 'luxury cruise liners' instead of 'aircraft carriers' designed to equip and send out those who are called to impact culture. Spada was a former nuclear submarine engineer and has found his training helps him identify with this metaphor with the church leaders. Spada even arranged for one of his pastors to get on an aircraft carrier to learn about what actually happens on a carrier to better relate to his church's ministry.

Spada comments further on the need to equip men and women through the local church:

"Few churches offer anything resembling an on-going ministry in this area. Often, the closest they come is an effort focused on the white-collar business community-a 'marketplace ministry' which is often defined as a businessmen's small group, or a 7 A.M. executive prayer breakfast. In doing so, they minister to the 5 percent who are leaders in their work environments and ignore the 95 percent who are not. That's tragic, we think, not only because this 95 percent are left with little guidance about what it means to be a Christian at work, but also because this majority is surrounded every day by untold legions of non-Christians and nominal Christians to whom they could reveal God. Seemingly, the church is missing one of its greatest opportunities for both discipleship and evangelism."

How One Pastor Had a Paradigm Shift

I first met pastor Fred Hartley about five years ago when I was invited to be on a city transformation leadership team in Atlanta. Fred pastors a midsize congregation in a suburb of Atlanta and is also the founder of the College of Prayer, an international equipping ministry. Fred has also written several books on prayer. Fred knew little about my work but as we began getting to know one another he took more of an interest in what I did. I shared a few of my books with him but it was almost two years before Fred caught what I was doing and how it could impact his own local congregation. He wrote me this letter:

Dear Os,

I had the most amazing experience in church on Sunday. I wish you could have been here. Let me explain. During this last module of the College of Prayer, I was convicted as Vanessa Battle was teaching on marketplace ministry and my lack of prayer support for our marketplace leaders.

I sat the people during worship and confessed that while I had recruited over 150 prayer partners for myself, I failed to pray for them in their marketplace, though their prayers are equally as valid as my own.

I asked them to write their name on a piece of paper, and underneath that to put down their employer and their position. Then I asked them to write down the name of their boss and the CEO of their company so I could pray for those in authority over them as well as praying for their marketplace. You would have not have believed the response. It was overwhelming.

Our people flocked forward with their slips of paper. When I then led in prayer for everyone who responded, the place erupted in applause.

Our people are praying people, but they have never responded like that before. When I asked God to tear down the dividing wall between the sacred and the secular and led us in a prayer to declare our marketplace holy to God, the place just about erupted. I sensed the pleasure of God in the moment at a very profound level. The people felt validated! I told them we are going to take the 9 to 5 window, as Os Hillman describes.

Thanks for being a good example to me Os.

Pastor Fred Hartley
Lilburn Alliance Church, Atlanta, Georgia

Many church members simply do not feel validated for the work they do five days a week. They often feel like second class citizens. One school teacher commented, "I was called up to the front to the church to commission me as the teacher for the school age children for the year. Later I wondered why I have never been recognized for teaching kids five days a week as a ministry."

A Church Growth Expert Recognizes a Movement

Peter Wagner has been watching movements in the church for more than 50 years. A former seminary professor and church growth expert, Wagner now leads the Wagner Leadership Institute and Global Harvest Ministries in Colorado Springs. He also heads up something called the International Coalition of Apostles. He began watching the faith and work movement in the late-nineties and saw that it was an important move of God that he felt was impacting the church at large and the local church. He began to draw a distinction between two types of churches - the nuclear church and the extended church. He explains it this way:

"Biblically, the word for 'church,' ekklesia, means 'the people of God.' God's people are the church, not only on Sunday when they gather together for worship and teaching (the nuclear church), but also on the other six days when they find themselves in the workplace (the extended church). It is becoming increasingly clear that, not only do these two forms of the church really exist, and that each is truly the biblical church, but also that they are quite different from each other, despite the fact that they contain largely the same people. While simply acknowledging that there is a difference might seem rather innocuous, the situation becomes more complex when we begin to explore the breadth of the gap between the nuclear church and the extended church. According to some respectable research, the gap turns out to be much larger than most people might think. The nuclear church and the extended church each has a distinct culture, and each culture, as cultures do, operates according to its own rule book. Most extended church leaders understand both rule books because they not only function in the workplace, but they also are active in a local church. However, most nuclear church leaders understand only one rule book. This can and does cause some of them to feel very uncomfortable with the notion that their own members customarily function, behind their backs, in a different "church" with different behavior patterns six days a week.

It should go without saying that God's desire in this new season of the faith and work movement is that all His people move forward in harmony. It would be a severe setback to the Kingdom of God if nuclear church leaders decided to condemn the rule book of the extended church for whatever reasons, and thereby widen the gap."[2]

What Happens When Church Members Feel Validated and Affirmed?

Many times church leaders feel that if church members have a ministry outside the four walls of the local church there will be a decrease in volunteerism, giving and general support for the local congregation. That has proven to be false and actually is the exact opposite. Giving increases and volunteerism increases because the member, for the first time in their lives, feels validated by the leadership for their own calling. This validation draws them to the local church because it is serving them where they most need it - in their work life call. Churches need to consider that every member is a potential change agent in the making and they have the privilege to invest in their lives. One of the churches that Spada works with is Wooddale Church in Minneapolis. Pastor Geoff Bohleen stated, "I have had many calls, emails and people stop me in the hall to tell me their appreciation of various aspects of our workplace ministry."

Several years ago we introduced an equipping tool for churches, marketplace ministries and businesses. We call it our TGIF CoBrand program. We found that men and women love my TGIF Today God Is First devotional. So, what we decided to do was create a version of TGIF that organizations could use to build their own database using TGIF and brand it with their name on it. They totally control the database. We added an article content website with articles on 24 different subjects men and women deal with daily in the workplace. We also branded that site with the organization's name. We added our affiliate bookstore, TGIFBookstore.com to allow the organization to earn money from a resource center. This tool has been very effective as a support to what the local church or other organization might want to do to be equip men and women in the workplace. It frees the local church pastor from having to know everything about workplace topics and gives their members a resource to get more in-depth teaching on various subjects related to their work life calling.
 
How Do We Reclaim the Church Mountain to Fulfill Its Mandate to Equip Change Agents?

So where do we go from here? How can a congregation better affirm and mobilize its pew-sitters in ministry within their jobs? The following ideas and strategies can help you begin to mobilize men and women to see their work as a calling and ministry from God.

1. Establish a team of intercessors to pray for workplace believers, businesses, and pray for God to establish a ministry to workplace believers in your church. Present real-life examples of workplace transformation-to inspire personal application in different types of workplace environments.

2. Preach sermons related to workplace applications. Form a team of workplace believers from different vocations to give input on the type of sermons that should be preached to address the needs of those in the workplace. Conduct a survey among those in the church that asks this question: How might our church help you apply your biblical faith in the context of your daily work life? Provide five specific things the church could do.

3. Start an ongoing workplace ministry/outreach that mobilizes your entire congregation into the workplace. "His Church at Work" can launch a Work Life Support Center online for your church. www.HisChurchatWork.org

4. Preach a series of messages on the priesthood of all believers in the context of work. Preach on the five-fold ministry in Ephesians 4 and how these gifts and offices are found in the workplace. Remove formal titles of church staff that would tend to place them spiritually above members in the church. Reinforce the concept that each person's call is equal in the sight of God. (This does not mean church leaders are not the spiritual leaders and shepherds.) Avoid addressing or favoring only those "in business" or those with influence. Equip and train the whole workforce for ministry in the workplace. Including mothers, students, executives, construction workers, and professionals.

5. Affirm workplace believers that their call is equal to vocational ministry call in its spiritual importance. Dedicate or commission members from various industries and seven mountain spheres on a given Sunday.

6. Understand the problem that often separates workplace believers from church leaders. This will help you see the heart of a workplace believer.

7. Affirm workplace believers through church commissioning services focused on the church recognizing and confirming their calling (vocation) in a formal way.

8. Provide discipleship opportunities for your people. Several workplace ministries offer online devotionals. My TGIF Today God Is First is a free daily e-mail devotional that helps men and women apply biblical faith in their daily workplaces. We have a technology that allows  TGIF to be uploaded free to your website.

9. Consider Marketplace Leader's TGIF CoBranded Equipping program to use to equip men and women through three unique tools we offer that brands your church/organization name to these tools. http://www.marketplaceleaders.org/tgif-co-brand/equip-others/ 

10. Begin a small-group ministry or Bible study in the workplace during non-working hours.

11. Establish a SWAT team of intercessors from your church willing to go into businesses and pray for the leaders. Their role is to go into different businesses to help discern issues that may be hindering God's blessing upon the business.

12. Download PowerPoint presentations by Os Hillman that can be used in teaching and training. See http://www.marketplaceleaders.org/and www.Reclaim7Mountains.com

13. Teach a theology of work to your young people so they do not have to re-learn God's view of work.

14. Allow one or two people each week to stand up and share a brief testimony on how they experienced God's presence in their workplace that week.

15. Equip the church library bookstore or resource center with helps on work and faith connections. (See www.TGIFBookstore.com.)

16. Sponsor special "work-life experiences." These might be a kid's day at work with their parents.

17. Establish local church website news features about members in their work. Other features could include profiles of biblical personalities that were in various industries. In the church member listing add the industry (not the organization because these change frequently) of each working person.

18. Sponsor employment helps such as a job seeking ministry, a care group for the unemployed or transitioning members, or internships for young people at members' places of work. See http://www.crossroadscareer.org/ to get a chapter started in your church.

19. Pastors should visit members in their workplace in order to enlighten and enrich your work in the Scriptures, counseling, and preaching-while affirming your people. You will better identify with their challenges.

For additional insights read my book, Faith and Work Movement: What every pastor and church leader should know. See TGIFBookstore.com  For information information on the TGIF CoBranded Equipping Program go to http://www.marketplaceleaders.org/tgif-co-brand/equip-others/ 



[1] Sunday Adelaja, Church Shift,

[2] Peter Wagner, Foreword, Faith and Work Movement, Aslan Publishing, Atlanta, GA 2004, p. viii



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