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9Marks Explained : A Letter From Mark Dever
March-April 2013 | Subscribe Free!

Pastoring Christians for the Workplace

The topic of work is a popular one right now among Christian writers and thinkers, which makes sense. When the Monday morning sun breaks through the bedroom curtains, the last residues of Sunday’s joys afforded by the Word and the company of the saints, still lingering lightly in the mind, can dissipate with the sigh, “Time to make the donuts.”

Pastor, how do you prepare your members for Monday’s alarm clock?

It is easy for armchair theologians to over-exalt the activities of 9 to 5, and talk as if Christians can build eternity now. Never mind Ecclesiastes. In theologically sound circles, ironically, the greater danger is not triumphalism, but a graying out of the next world. Never mind heaven.

No, don’t go those ways, pastor. Your church needs a picture of Bunyan’s Christian stumbling yet steadfastly clambering toward the celestial city, hands stretched forward, eyes fatigued but fixed on the horizon.

Still, the eternal life does begin now for the Christian. And faith helps us see that we participate in the character of the creator through our work. The sharpened pencil says that he is a God of planning and intentions. The populated spreadsheet speaks to his analysis and oversight. The choreography of traffic lights communicates his affirmation of order. The clean sheets on the hospital bed say that he is a God who leans down with compassion. And then of course God rests to relish the good work of his hands.

What a joy and privilege it is to work, and so speak if only in whispers of our generous and delegating God, even as you make the donuts. Maybe an extra dollop of frosting says it more loudly?

9Marks devoted the last two issues of the Journal to lay elders. It seems time to help pastors think about Christians in the workplace. Pastor J.D. Greear meditates on what is “Christian” about work. Lukas Naugle, a marketplace maverick, points to the lessons that have helped him. Jamie Dunlop and Bari Nichols will help you think about specific groups—the over-ambitious and the worker in the home.

I am especially excited about Sebastian Traeger’s two articles on how the pastor and the business person can better understand and serve one another. In fact it was his ideas that first kicked off the idea of this whole issue. Also, check out this link to Traeger’s “Gospel at Work” conference audio resources, especially Michael Lawrence’s talk. And don’t miss the full manuscripts for one church’s adult Sunday School classes on work and money.

Finally, the article on Business as Missions is worth photocopying and distributing among the business folk in your church. 



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