Recently I had lunch with a Christian-university professor, who is administrating a two-year, $1.5 million study evaluating the role of faith in the workplace. What I found surprising and quite honestly distressing about the study, was that the researchers were not at all interested in investigating the presence and value of personal evangelism in the marketplace. For the researchers, maintaining one’s faith in the workplace was a more significant societal factor than sharing one’s faith in the workplace.
“Why not investigate the impact of spiritual transformation in the workplace?” I asked. “Wouldn’t the presence of transformed people, transforming other people in the workplace, transform the whole workplace? Isn’t that what Jesus demonstrated and instructed?”
“That’s not really allowable anymore,” came the tragic reply. “It’s all silent witness now.”
“What’s not allowable?”
“You know—evangelism. It just leads to conflict and legal action.”
This incorrect understanding of evangelism reflects perfectly a blog posted on the Huffington Post website entitled: 10 Reasons It’s Wrong to Evangelize in the Workplace
According to Mr. Shore, anyone who commits to engaging in evangelism in the workplace must: be a bad employee, violate Jesus’ greatest two commandments, be wildly condescending, be out of order, be wasting company time, be exceptionally anachronistic, be ego tripping, be emotionally dishonest, and be putting yourself before God.
Wow! Who changed the definition of the verb: to evangelize?
The Greek term (euaggelizō) used in the New Testament means literally: to proclaim good news.
The employee Mr. Shore is describing sounds like someone seriously in need of good news rather than the purveyor of good news. And yet, for many Christians, this is exactly the perception we have of what it means to carry out the Great Commission in the workplace, and the reason why our faith has gone personal, private and silent.
One way to bring transformation back into the workplace is to understand what the Good News that we’re supposed to be proclaiming IS and IS NOT.
-Gospel proclamation is not trying to convert the workplace to following the invented god of my personal preferences and politics.
-Gospel proclamation is not trying to turn the workplace into my own private kingdom.
-The Good News of the Kingdom of God is walking with my coworkers through the daily struggles we all face as human beings.
-The Good News of the Kingdom of God is proclaiming to my coworkers the freedom they can experience from fear, guilt and shame.
-The Good News of the Kingdom of God is helping create a workplace devoid of self-protection and self-promotion.
-The Good News of the Kingdom of God is helping create a workplace characterized by creativity, productivity, love, joy and peace.
-The Good News of the Kingdom of God is helping create a workplace where people feel energized and alive.
I’ll be tackling this conversation at the Move Out Conference at Kensington Church, where we’ll ask what if the church reached beyond its walls, beyond its physical location, to change the world? How can you and I come to a deeper understanding of what it means to love our neighbors? And, what if we saw our spheres of influence – our communities, workplaces, and schools – as opportunities to move out in love and service?
Join us at Troy campus on Oct 4 from 7-9 p.m. for inspiration and practical tools on how to Move Out in Your Workplace. Free registration at kensingtonchurch.org/event/move-out-in-your-workplace.