Lighting up the dark: Evangelism in the workplace

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Two weeks ago I mustered up the strength to make it out to the College & Career evening and taught through a short outline to another question that came up: dealing with evangelism and one’s witness in the workplace.  I prepared a 2-page handout that I gave everyone and we chatted at length about jobs, being a Christian on the jobs, etc.  Here’s that handout:

Three Questions to direct your thinking:

1. Should I share my faith with people?

1a. The Great Commission applies wherever you are.

This seems like a no brainer, but it’s worth pointing out that the workplace isn’t a “no fly zone” for spiritual dialogue or gospel proclamation. In the era of the early church, the believers proclaimed the gospel everywhere…like in the Jewish temple (Acts 3:11-26), in court (Acts 4:1-22)

– Early on in the era of the church, people got saved in all walks of life, like celebrity Pharisees (Acts. 9:1-6) or Roman soldiers (Acts 10:1-2) or even the servants of Caesar himself (Phil. 4:12).

 1b. Avoiding spiritual discussion out of fear of offense is dangerous.

– Acts 5:34-41 gives us a precedent to follow, and Mark 8:34-38 gives us a sobering promise that may apply to situations where we’re tempted to be silent when the Holy Spirit is orchestrating opportunities for fruitful spiritual conversation.

1c. Mature Christians aren’t spiritually obsessive or obnoxious.

– There are also plenty of passages in the New Testament where believers are warned to avoid those who claim to be Christians but are argumentative or obnoxious; people who constantly ask loaded questions or are obsessed with matters that are divisive and foolish (Rom. 16:17-19; 1 Tim. 1:3-7, 6:20-21; 2 Tim. 2:22-26; Tit. 3:9-11; 2 Pet. 3:14-17).

 2. What does that look like?

2a. Things it is NOT:

i. Sinning against your employer “for the sake of the gospel”.

– Simply put, this is what a job is: You have skills and time and your employer has money. Your employer pays you an agreed upon amount of money for you to come to his establishment and use your skills and time for him instead of doing something else somewhere else. The payment you get is in response to a legal agreement you have with your employer; you’re there to do your job primarily and only should do other things if they are permitted by your employer. If you’re getting paid for sorting mail and you’re sitting around and “evangelizing” instead of doing the job you’re getting paid to do, you’re stealing money from your employer (Prov. 6:30-31; Matt. 25:24-30).

ii. Sinning against the Lord “for the sake of the gospel”.

– You need to remember that Matt. 28:19-20 isn’t the only passage in the Bible. The passages in 2(b) also demand your obedience; there is a wise and foolish way to go about evangelism. You need to not only be bold, but wise in your approach.

iii. Being a problem/annoyance. Everyone hates the obnoxious employee. (Prov. 10:26, 14:3, 18:6, 26:6, 26:10, 27:14; Phil. 2:14-17).

iv. Having an inconsistent life between work and home.

This is the real basic “walk the talk” idea that even unbelievers get pretty clearly. People who claim beliefs in opposition to their behaviour contradict their own claims with their actions (John 8:34-40; James 2:14-26).

 2b. Things it is:

i. Obeying the Lord as your ultimate employer (Acts 5:27-33; Col. 3:23-25; Eph. 6:5-8).

ii. Respecting your employer before your employees (Tit. 3:1-8; 1 Pet. 2:18).

iii. Being a blessing to your employer (Prov. 11:23-26, 28:16, 28:18-20; Luke 16:1-9; Col. 3:22)

iv. Making the gospel look attractive and authentic (Prov. 30:7-9; 1 Thess. 4:9-12; 1 Tim. 2:1-4; Tit. 2:1-10; 1 Pet. 2:13-21).

 3. How do I get there?

3a. You must pursue maturity.

-The goal of the Christian life is to become mature:tothink and thus act like Christ in all circumstances (Phil. 3:8-15; Eph. 4:11-16; Col. 1:24-29; Heb. 6:1-3).

– The “secret” to having a well-balanced and credible witness in the workplace is having a well-balanced and biblical web of belief and practice.

3b. Maturity doesn’t just happen.

– Being a mature Christian employee involves things like planning, resourcefulness, patience, wisdom (picking your battles), humility, self restraint, listening to criticism, etc.

-Here are some cases to examine where believers were in positions of secular power and set some good examples to emulate:

– Joseph (Gen. 39-41, 47, 50:1-14)

– Daniel (Daniel 1-2, 4-6)

– Nehemiah (1-2, 5)

– Esther (2, 4-8).

– Pay attention to how they sincerely honor their superiors, how they are humble and lack a sense of entitlement or presumption, how they are always the exemplary ones among their peers, etc.

I hope that’s a somewhat helpful guide to thinking about the subject.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “The Insomniac Theologian” Unger

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4 thoughts on “Lighting up the dark: Evangelism in the workplace

  1. How about you ask your boss if you can talk about your faith at work. If he says, “no” connect with those employees outside of work (facebook, email, invite them over to your home) etc…BTW, it’s easy to make “the great commission” burdensome and a heavy laden to people. Not everyone can open air preach, street evangelize, one-to-one witness etc…Not everyone is gifted for that. You shouldn’t feel guilty on a day-to-day basis if you didn’t share your faith, instead, pray for lost souls everyday, ask God to open doors of opportunity and be a faithful gospel witness in your neighborhood.

    • Bryan, I fully agree. It’s interesting to me how “sharing your faith” has become somehow synonymous with open air preaching (which, believe it or not, I actually reject on exegetical grounds as a “biblical” method of evangelism) or street evangelism (which I consider highly ineffective).

      You shouldn’t feel guilty if you’re not handing out tracts to everyone and their dog. A lot of people simply are not able to pull that sort of thing off.

      You shouldn’t feel guilty if you don’t turn every single discussion into a gospel presentation (often using horribly awkward, or transparently machinated, efforts that make everyone uncomfortable).

      You should be able to offer a coherent response when questioned about the reasons you live differently, think differently, etc. (1 Peter 3:15-16). Some of the most fruitful evangelistic conversations have happened in the workplace in some of the most bizarre times.

      You should pray for those lost souls around you, and pray diligently.

      You should ask the Lord to help you recognize evangelistic opportunities that present themselves to you and seize them as such.

      You should live the kind of life that shames critics and makes the standard accusations of “hypocrisy” absolutely laughable.

      I probably should have defined the term “evangelism”…it’s kinda been hijacked by certain folks to mean something specific that I generally reject as either biblical or actually effective, mostly because the guys that peddle the idea don’t recognize that their big verse (i.e. look at the verse that’s on of the Way of the Master Logo) isn’t actually part of canonical scripture.

      Oops. I think I just made a half million enemies.

      • Dear Lyndon, thank you so much for your posts here in WYLADC and the Cripplegate. You’ve made me thought long and hard about this especially open-air/street preaching. Surely though, street preachers could “go into the highways, country roads, hedges” to compel sinners to respond to Christ? Especially since a growing number of the public are either un-churched/apathetic? Indeed I don’t consider myself an effective street evangelist at all, but should we ever give it a shot since we can trust that the word of God never returns void?

        Thanks,
        C.H. Loh

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