What does it mean for the church to “equip the saints for works of service” in the new and changing world that is emerging globally? One of the toughest challenges in the faith and work movement is that this question is so overwhelming and can be answered in so many different ways. It’s hard to bring things down to a level that pastors can start acting on in the present instead of waiting for a big-picture consensus that may not come for years or decades.
Can we identify standards for churches to begin implementing now? Matt Rusten, executive director of the Made to Flourish Pastors Network, recently proposed four of them. Speaking to a quarterly conference call of faith and work leaders, brought together by the Denver Institute for Faith and Work under the name City Gate, Rusten discussed the possibility of leaders and churches agreeing upon a set of minimum standards for the integration of faith and work in local congregations.
Such standards are essential for getting past the perception that “faith and work” is just an add-on, one more thing out of a thousand things churches need to do. It is instead a vision for the sending of God’s people that should be integral to every church’s philosophy of pastoral ministry.
Rusten presented the following list of four practices that could be a common starting point for churches that embrace historic teachings about vocation. They 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:
1. Corporate Worship: Pastoral Prayers for Workers (once per month)
- Pray specifically for congregants’ working
- General liturgical prayers
- Vocation-specific prayers
- Commissioning prayers
2. Pastoral Practice: Workplace Visitation (once per month)
- Visit parishioner’s workplaces.
- Onsite – non-participatory
- Onsite – participatory
- Sermon prep
3. Discipleship/Spiritual Formation: Vocational Interviews in Small Groups (regularly)
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.
- Physical/space assets
- Financial assets
- Human capital
These standards are being posted in blogs and newsletters by a variety of faith and work organizations that are part of City Gate. Hopefully these proposals will spark further insight for the movement as we strive to move – as David Miller put it at Karam Forum 2019 – from “Wow!” to “How?”