When Reaching Workers Means Moving Your Church

Three years after it was planted, Woven Church in Houston, TX, is already moving. Why? To be a presence in the Energy Corridor, a dominant oil and gas industry space nearby.

Pastor Wayne Park, who is working on his doctorate of ministry in Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation at Fuller Seminary (Pasadena, CA), sees this as a strategic move to engage the marketplace evangelistically.

The Energy Corridor is a business district in Greater Houston, TX, located on the west side of the metropolitan area between Beltway 8 and the Grand Parkway. Straddling a 7-mile (11 km) stretch of Interstate 10 (the Katy Freeway), the district is home to major operations of many energy sector companies, including BP America, Citgo, ConocoPhillips and Shell Oil Company.  Non-energy firms also have a presence—Sysco and Gulf States Toyota Distributors are  both headquartered in the district. The Energy Corridor contains over 26 million square feet of office space, with an employment capacity of over 105,000 people.

Reaching a Diverse Community

Woven Church’s name springs from the desire that diverse people’s lives, like different threads, might be woven together into what the late Edith Schaeffer referred to as a beautiful tapestry. The hope is that Woven Church’s multiethnic congregation will be an exhibition or incarnation of togetherness.

Houston is the fastest growing city in the world and is considered the ‘Energy Capital of the World’.  Workers come to Houston from all around the world, including immigrants from China, Africa, South America, and the Middle East.  

These workers do not come for the weather or the scenery; they converge on Houston for the many work opportunities. And because of the sheer size of the oil and gas industry in Houston, it drives most of the local job opportunities for white and blue-collar jobs in such fields as construction, civil engineering, science, and medicine.

The Right Perspective is Half the Battle

Park believes he must begin with training his people to develop the right perspective about their work.  Many Christians in Houston do not see the connection between what they do Monday through Friday and their faith on Sunday.  

Many have a gnostic view of work, seeing work as a necessary evil. Many Houstonians see work as just a means to finance the church’s projects—not as something intrinsically meaningful. Park believes that correcting people’s view of work is more than half the battle.

While most of Park’s ideas are conceptual at this juncture,  he is considering a space for prayer in the church for workers in this Energy Corridor where workers might come to get “food for their journey.” And eventually Park hopes to develop and write a theology of the oil and gas industry.

Follow Pastor Park and Woven Church’s journey here.

Dr. Luke Bobo serves as director of resource and curriculum development at Made to Flourish. He worked for 15 years in the marketplace as an engineer before earning his M.Div. and Ph.D., eventually serving as the executive director of the Francis Schaeffer Institute at Covenant Seminary.