When we worked and ministered in the UK, our lives were very blessed. Everything we touched seemed to “turn to gold”–in the spiritual rather than physical sense. Tony, my husband, was leading a ministry that worked among doctors and others in the caring professions and extraordinary things were going on all over the country. The ministry taught these professional how to bring their faith into their working lives in a sensitive and relevant way. We ran conferences that showcased examples of doctors who were doing something meaningful. As others professionals saw what was going on, their response was often, “I could do that in my practice.”
For example, I remember one family doctor giving a report on what he had seen the previous year. He had kept a record of every patient he had communicated the good news about Jesus to over the course of that year–about 150 people. Of those, around 50 had become followers of Jesus the first time he spoke with them, and another 50 had become believers some time during that year. The remaining 50 were an ongoing story. All over the country, doctors were seeking to communicate the Gospel in effective ways to their patients.
When Tony was practicing medicine, he probably saw several hundred of his patients find the Lord. In the UK, in part because of socialized medicine, the family doctor handles far more than the typical medical problems. If someone had a kid who was using drugs or had marital difficulties or any other social need, the GP was usually the first person they went to for help. Often, when his patients came to him with needs that were not really medical in nature, Tony would say to them, “You know, I don’t have a pill I can prescribe that will sort this out, but have you ever thought of praying about this situation?” The most common response was, “Doctor, I’ve prayed about it, but I don’t know if anyone is listening.” That was an open door for a spiritual conversation. During one memorable six week period, a person became a follower of Christ every day his office was open.
Other doctors moved into the very poor and socially deprived area of London where we lived and worked and had our church. One day, we did the math. In our (more traditional) church, there were 14 family doctors. Our area had around 120,000 people living in it. Between the doctors in the church and their partners, anyone becoming sick in our area had a one in three chance of sitting down next to a Spirit-filled doctor who was looking for an opportunity to share about Jesus.
Other doctors around the country were running Bible studies in their offices, or referring the social needs of their patients to their churches. In fact, the impact was such that even the medical authorities were beginning to take notice. We heard one day that a family doctor, in his final oral exam in front of the licensing board was asked this question: “What would you do if you found yourself in a practice with doctors who were evangelical Christians who took every opportunity to speak to their patients about their faith?”
Our conferences were attended by around 5,000 people per year. I remember a particular conference we ran for consultants. At one stage, this group of 50 or so eminent consultants were asked to stand on their chairs and praise God at the tops of their voices. If these distinguished professionals were willing to humble themselves before God in this way at a weekend conference, it was easy for them to speak to their patients about the Lord during the following week.
So when in 1987, the Lord spoke to us that we were to move to the USA, we assumed, naively, that God wanted us to do the same kind of ministry among professionals here. Were we in for a shock!
Have you found effective ways to communicate your faith through your working life? I’d love to hear the story.
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6 replies on “Bringing our faith into our working lives”
This is a story that “fishers” of persons of peace (Luke 10:5-6) need to read. “How you find them” has been tossed around quite a bit in my circles. How to use Business as Missions (BAM) has been a big part of that. Well, this is very good reading in that regard…
Roger, thanks for commenting. We are now trying to work these principles out in a business context. Our company has a lot of phone contact with the general public and we encourage our employees to offer a “chaplaincy service” for people who show any interest.
I work in a very busy, very intense human services setting. I often do not have more than 10-15 seconds to talk to a person. I always have a brief ‘teaser’ line that might elicit interest, and a quick follow up line that gives more info that can lead to a conversation, if my co-worker might be a person of peace.
Sometimes I say that I am a writer, and that my materials help people understand God a little better. I have a short booklet that I wrote about Jesus that I keep copies of to
give out, and people are often interested in something that I wrote
I often get prophetic words for co-workers, and that itself leads to conversations.
Or I tell them that a lot of my time is spent helping people get closer to God. Or that I pray for a lot of people, and see God doing exciting things. I offer to pray for anyone, for anything.
My rule of thumb is to have a handful of very short ‘one liners’ and a matching follow up line, that an interested person can follow up on later. This has worked well for me.
[…] to the States. We were naively excited about the opportunity, assuming that the Lord wanted to take the ministry we had with doctors, nurses and others in the caring professions in the UK and see it expand there, as it had into several other […]
I never try to get a person to think about churchy or the usual evangelical stuff.
In my work, when I get involved with someone who is struggling in business I often say, “I don’t believe that God created us to be beasts of burden.”This usually causes sufficient curiosity to take it further to, “Jesus said come unto me all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” “He can do that for you if you are interested”.
Mind you such an approach has been backed up from a real time experience of living it in my own life at home and work. I continually surrender my work to the Lord and He continually carries the load for me. I have lived and walked through many violent storms with an amazingly light load. Many people around me can testify to the truth of this statement.
I have used this and similar approaches for many years. I rarely get rebuffed. For many people, they cannot connect a loving and caring God with going to church. The idea of them talking to God in their workplace, and about their workplace is totally novel. It is in fact alien to most Christians! I have had many lengthy conversations because of this, and it has opened many hearts hardened from church.Once a person is open to the idea, then it is easy to pray with them, and I make sure that we pray about what burdens them, not surreptitiously hijacking it for a “sinner’s prayer”. I believe a major problem is that most churches see their role as merely getting people to heaven when they are dead,(and at the same time increasing membership). In reality people are far more burdened about the problems happening today than their eternal destination. Once they see reality of a loving God at work in this world, in their work, they become open to the full message.
Jesus always dealt with what was important at that very moment. He didn’t hijack their problems to challenge them about eternity.
Francis, this is a great example of Luke 10. In this passage, which the Lord is using all over the world to produce church planting movements, the 72 are sent out to find people of peace. Basically they befriend that person looking for an opportunity to bring them face to face with a God who wants to meet them at their point of need. When they have seen God answer prayer, it’s at that point they tell them about the Kingdom of God.
We, too, have seen it work on many occasions. I believe it’s a pattern that can be used anywhere.