Four practical ways pastors can love the workers in their pews

How will the church in the 21st century “equip the saints for works of service” (Eph 4:12) for the vast challenges we face in the world today? This seems overwhelming at first blush. But then I remember that God’s people are touching every area of our cities through their daily work, and it’s the church’s privilege and responsibility to send them to be agents of healing through their vocations.

Matt Rusten, executive director of Made to Flourish and Jeff Haanen, executive director of Denver Institute for Faith & Work, recently discussed the possibility of leaders and churches agreeing upon a set of minimum standards for the integration of faith and work in local congregations. They discussed that “faith and work” isn’t an “add on” ministry, but instead a vision for the sending of God’s people that should be integral to every church’s philosophy of ministry.

Rusten presented a compelling list of four practices I believe could be a common starting point for churches that embrace historic teachings about vocation. As presented by Rusten, the four practices intersect with four distinct areas of congregational life: corporate worship, pastoral practice, discipleship/spiritual formation, and mission/outreach.

Four common standards for integrating faith and work in local congregations:

1. Corporate worship: Pastoral prayers for workers (once a month)

Pray specifically for congregants’ working lives through general liturgical prayers, vocation-specific prayers, and commissioning prayers.

2. Pastoral practice: Workplace visitation (once a month)

Pastors can visit parishioner’s workplaces, which shows them you care about seeing where they spend a majority of their time each week. This can be as simple as stopping by for a few minutes or for a lunch meeting.

3. Discipleship/spiritual formation: Vocational interviews in small groups (regularly)

Pastors or church leaders can interview congregants about their daily work, using the following sample questions:

  • What does your daily work life look like?
  • 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)

Church leaders can conduct a congregational survey about the varying assets a congregation has that can be deployed for community benefit. These assets can include physical/space assets, financial assets, networks, human capital, and the community.

Our team at Made to Flourish commends each of these practices in our network, and we eagerly look forward to working with local churches to better equip the saints for works of service. More information about how to join our network of pastors and church leaders is available here.

The article originally appeared at denverinstitute.org.

Topics: Church and Ministry, Pastoral Practices

About the Author

Jeff Haanen is the founder of Denver Institute for Faith & Work and the 5280 Fellowship. He contributes to various magazines and publications, including Christianity Today. He has previously served as a school administrator, a pastor, and missionary. He holds a B.A. in International Economics and Spanish from Valparaiso University and a master of divinity from Denver Seminary. Jeff attends Littleton Christian Church with his wife and four daughters.