Americans are spending more hours at work than ever before. At the same time, fewer Americans are attending church services, and those who do are choosing to attend do so less frequently. As a result, many church leaders are focusing their attention on trying to rally their congregations toward the growing field of marketplace evangelism.
Current research shows Americans spend nearly 50 hours a week in their jobs, an average of 34.4 hours a week longer than their counterparts in the world’s largest economies. That’s about an hour and a half more per day than they reported a decade ago, according to a recent Gallup poll reported by CNN. In a different survey, Gallup reports that less than 20-percent of Americans regularly attend church, and most asked would define “regular church attendance” as attending a worship service only two times each month. Southern Baptist recently reported a 6.75-percent drop in average weekly worship attendance.
As he coordinates discipleship efforts for the church, Cottonwood Creek’s Executive Pastor Justin Frazier said they believe preparing church members to share their faith in the marketplace is an extension of Paul’s instruction to the Ephesians where he writes that the duties of church leaders is, “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, [and] for building up the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12) As a result, Cottonwood Creek has recently launched an emphasis to encourage members to take their faith to one of the largest mission fields in North America — the workplace.
“Our real desire is to help people live our their faith in the marketplace,” said Frazier. “We want to encourage, challenge, and equip people to be able to do that. God has designed us, and gifted us, and placed us where we are in order to fulfill His purpose.”
The church’s first step in exploring new plans was to host a Business Leaders Forum where people from inside and outside the church who were invited in order to start conversations about how to bring our faith to work with us. Frazier said that because of today’s political climate, most people think you are not allowed to be a Christian witness in the workplace. This spring, Kelly Shackleford from the Plano-based Liberty Institute addressed around 120 business leaders, sharing with them stories of legal cases their firm has represented in their fight for religious liberty in America. Shackleford’s primary message was that in many circumstances, US law currently supports the idea of an individual’s right to both observe and share their faith while they are at work.
“For whatever reason, people tend to compartmentalize their faith. There are not a lot of spiritual discussions taking place in the marketplace,” said Frazier. “A lot of people will never darken the doorways of the church. So, when we go to work, we are missionaries to these folks.” Frazier added that he hopes that through these new efforts that people will feel bolder and more equipped to share their faith in the place where they spend the most time each week – at work.
As for what the next steps will be, Frazier is unsure. He hopes this will become a regional emphasis and that leaders from other churches will share their passion and vision for marketplace evangelism and begin working together to equip their congregations to be bold witnesses for Christ at work.
If you would like to know more, contact Frazier by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
THE ENCOURAGER MAGAZINE – SUMMER 2017