Implementing a Theology of Work - Lesson 4

Overcoming Obstacles in Workplace Ministry

In this lesson, you will explore the challenges of implementing a theology of work in your local church and overcome obstacles to workplace ministry. You will learn about 12 obstacles that can hinder effective workplace ministry, including confusing position with spirituality, the platform with real ministry, and time spent at church with spiritual commitment. As you navigate these challenges, you will gain insight into the importance of focusing on personal transformation, serving the community, and modeling Jesus in your everyday life.

Kent  Humphreys
Implementing a Theology of Work
Lesson 4
Watching Now
Overcoming Obstacles in Workplace Ministry

I. Introduction

A. The movement towards workplace ministry

II. Twelve Obstacles to Workplace Ministry

A. Confusing position with spirituality

B. Confusing the platform with real ministry

C. Confusing time spent at church with spiritual commitment

D. Confusing teaching with training

E. Confusing size with significance

  • In this lesson, you learn about the importance of developing and supporting workplace leaders, likened to shepherding horses, and how to guide them to make a positive impact in their workplaces while growing spiritually. You'll explore the challenges of managing their independent spirit and potential pitfalls, and the significance of trust, control, and focus in their development.
  • Through this lesson, you will gain insight into God's purposes for us in the workplace, emphasizing the importance of relationships and the four key words the Holy Spirit highlights: Kingdom, Relationships, Community, and Transformation, helping you become an effective ambassador for Christ in your workplace.
  • This lesson teaches you how to naturally proclaim Christ in the workplace, emphasizing that the core mission is to love God and love people. You will discover the importance of evangelism and discipleship as ongoing processes, and how incorporating biblical values in the workplace positively impacts employees and business growth.
  • This lesson helps you understand and overcome obstacles to workplace ministry, emphasizing the importance of personal transformation, serving the community, and representing Jesus in daily life.
  • In this lesson, you will learn about Jesus' approach to work and leadership by examining the five things He did: telling everyone the good news, teaching many to understand God's principles, training some to do the work, equipping a few to reproduce, and modeling a relationship with the Father. These principles can help guide your own approach to work and leadership in various settings.
  • In this lesson, you gain insights on the significance of training spiritual leaders, using the Bible as a guide, and Jesus as a model. You will understand the value of influence over position and how to train leaders for different spheres of society. Embracing your uniqueness and learning about 12 styles of assistance for emerging leaders will equip you to effectively develop others in their spiritual journey.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into the vital process of connecting church leaders and workplace leaders, fostering personal relationships, and understanding the six key responsibilities pastors have toward workplace leaders to create a thriving spiritual community and extend the church's influence beyond its walls.
  • Walking through open doors teaches you to bring Christ's kingdom to the workplace, developing relationships and fostering unity. Learn the four steps to successful workplace ministry, including prayer and responding to opportunities, while offering support during times of crisis.
  • In this lesson, you learn the significance of character in leadership, focusing on God, and the importance of building trust through relationships. You'll also explore the value of people and their gifts and understand how to hold others accountable and empower them as a spiritual leader.
  • This lesson highlights the importance of finishing well in your spiritual journey, emphasizing the need for a heart for God and an undivided heart, while providing biblical examples of those who succeeded in doing so, encouraging you to strive for the same in your own life.

With Kent Humphreys. Using the mental picture of a shepherd caring for his sheep, Kent Humphreys likens the shepherd to a pastor and the congregation to sheep, into which a few horses (strong business leaders) have been let loose. It is hard to understand these horses, who are just as capable of causing chaos with their strength and of standing quietly off in a corner of the pasture by themselves. How is a pastor to understand and equip these potentially powerful creatures to be part of the “flock” and then to go out into their workplace to minister and influence it for God? The answer to that question is the focus of this book. Taking the example of how Jesus handled His “horses”, a simple plan is offered that can build bridges between pastors and workplace leaders, impacting both the church and the community.

Recommended Books

Shepherding Horses, Volume I (A Pastor's Guide to Equipping Workplace Leaders)

Shepherding Horses, Volume I (A Pastor's Guide to Equipping Workplace Leaders)

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Shepherding Horses, Volume I (A Pastor's Guide to Equipping Workplace Leaders)
Shepherding Horses, Volume II (A Pastor's Guide to Equipping Workplace Leaders)

Shepherding Horses, Volume II (A Pastor's Guide to Equipping Workplace Leaders)

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Mr. Kent Humphreys
Implementing a Theology of Work
Overcoming Obstacles in Workplace Ministry
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:06] In this session, we're going to be talking about overcoming obstacles to workplace ministry. There's a number of obstacles when we talk about the workplace. And when we say I'm going to reach people out in the community, out where I live and work and play. There's a number of obstacles to doing that, particularly when we talk about that in the local church and how we equip people to do that. There will be many obstacles as you seek to lead others outside the walls of your church building. The church program. If you as a pastor or you as a leader seek to do that, you're going to have some opposition. And I'm going to list as 12 of those today that you may face as a pastor or a leader in your church or a leader in the workplace. But the fact of the matter is, God is forcing this movement. As I travel around the United States and as I travel around the world, in fact, even more so overseas than the United States, God is increasingly pushing those of us who are followers of Jesus outside the building, outside the programs, outside the walls of our local church, and extending those walls out in the community as we seek to represent his son, Jesus Christ. This is something that the Spirit of God is doing. And I want to share with you some practical ways that you can overcome these obstacles, because as you as a workplace leader, as you run into your church and try to convince them that we need to change the paradigm, you're going to run into some some obstacles. And if you as a pastor try to do this, particularly in a visible way, you'll also run into some obstacles.

[00:01:40] So let's look at obstacles number one through 12. I'm going to share these with you. I think they'll be helpful for you as you seek to do this in your own local church. Number one, we have confused a person's position with his spirituality. In other words, what's more, who's more spiritual? Is a pastor more spiritual or a salesperson? Well, most of the people in the congregation will say, Well, of course the pastor is more spiritual or is it more spiritual to be a missionary or someone working on the factory line? Is it more spiritual to be a Christian school teacher than a public school teacher? Well, we've confused a person's position with his or her spirituality. His or her spirituality depends on their walk with Christ. It has nothing to do with what their position is. And you can be a pastor, and yet you can not be as effective for Christ as a salesperson if you're walking with Christ as a salesperson. Neither one is more spiritual than the other. But the same thing was true in Jesus time because people were concerned about position. The Sadducees, the Pharisees, the scribes, they were all concerned about their religious position. But we need to be concerned about our walk with Christ. And so the first obstacle we have is to forget that position has anything to do with how spiritual we are or serve in Christ. For instance, when's the last time that your church has commissioned a Sunday school teacher or a teacher in a Christian school? You may have done that during the last year. You had the Christian school teacher come down. Your church may even have a Christian school and you've had them come down and and the people may have laid hands on them.

[00:03:29] They may have had a special prayer for them and commissioning these teachers who are going to be teaching our Christian school, which is great. Or perhaps commissioning a person that's doing a special thing in the community for Sunday school teachers, for instance, in your church. But how many times have we commissioned a public school teacher? We need to have those. In fact, every month a church should be bringing down a certain segment of the workplace. Perhaps those that work in government, perhaps those that work in the media. You know that 98% of the media has a non biblical worldview. 98% of the media that we listen to every day does not have a biblical worldview. And so what if you had those who are involved in the media with a local radio or television station, Christian or not, or involved in Internet or that kind of thing? On one Sunday of that month, have them come down, lay hands on them, commission them to be God's representatives for that part of the workplace, those that are in government, those are in education. So a person's position has nothing to do with their spirituality, but that's an obstacle. Number two, we've confused the platform with the real ministry. See, most of us, when we look at the platform, we see the preacher preaching, we see the music leader leading worship. We're part of the worship team, part of the choir. When we look at the people that are on stage, that are on the platform, we think that's real ministry. I mean, one day I want to quit my job. I'm going to be on church staff. And I'm going to be able to lead the worship or lead a church or plant to church. And that's great.

[00:05:10] But the fact of the matter is, the platform is no longer only the ministry than anything else. Real ministry, Jesus said, is focusing on serving people. So wherever you are, whether you're serving someone at a restaurant, you're serving someone at a Jiffy Lube, you're serving someone as an insurance person wherever you are. If you're serving people, that's ministry. The platform is not the ministry. That's just a formal, formal part of the ministry. Number three, we've confused the amount of time that we spend at the church building or involved in church programs with our level of spiritual commitment. When we talk about the workplace in this series and we talk about equipping our people to send them outside the walls of the church into the workplace, 24 seven where they live, work and play, that comes in direct conflict with the programs that we've established with Inside the Four Walls programs to help take care of children, programs to help take care of adults, programs to help take care of teens, programs to help take care of our seniors, programs to educate us in the Bible and become students of God's Word, and all the many things that a church does. And many of those are reaching outside the walls. But when we begin to become an aquifer, and when we begin to become someone that's interesting in equipping the saints for the work of the ministry outside the walls of the local church, we're going to run into opposition because people are going to say, Well, you're taking away my leadership of my programs. I need those people here. Well, we have to redesign our churches so that the intent is to equip, but then equip and release and send them out. Jesus always looked outward.

[00:06:56] He said, Go. He said, Go. There were traditions of men. And Jesus said, We get so wrapped up in the traditions of man. Jesus said, We need to look at the heart. So when you're equipping your people of Jesus Christ, you're followers of Christ. Look at their heart. But don't worry about traditions. We're actually hurting our families many times by having them so many times that the church when somebody asked if I had any regrets in raising my children, our children are all grown now. We have eight grandchildren. We have three children. They're just walking with God and they are the light of our heart. Children age are now adults and our grandchildren age 5 to 14. People ask me, Do you have any regrets? And I have very few regrets raising our children. But I was so involved in my church that there may be some times that it might have been more profitable for me to grill out hamburgers in the backyard than to be at church. You see, our families need to be brought together and the obstacle is sometimes we feel good about ourselves, we feel religious. We feel like we've satisfied God when we're at the church building and we're there every time the doors are open. But the fact of the matter is, our primary responsibility is a relationship with God, a relationship with our family, relationship with those that God has placed in our path. So we've confused time, commitment to our level of spiritual. Your level of spiritual commitment does not make any difference whether you're going to be in your church 20 hours a week or 2 hours a week. Your level of spiritual commitment is your obedience to Jesus Christ is a said and may be one of the earlier sessions.

[00:08:35] The average burn out for a leader in a church is 5 to 7 years. We get a person, we bring them to Christ, we shove them as soon as we can, and many churches into the infrastructure of the church. We put them in leadership positions sometimes when they shouldn't be there, but our spiritual pride allows us to do that. And then within 5 to 7 years we burn them out and they're still in the church, but they're sitting at the back of the church and they're no longer involved. And I can time that 5 to 7 years. And some pastors have told me now we now are better at that. We can burn them out in 3 to 5 years. So he are pastoral, have to let me know. But the point is, it's not about traditions. It's not about time. It's about our obedience and surrender to Christ. Obstacle number four We'll be talking about this in future sessions. We've confuse teaching with training. Teaching is what I'm doing here in this session. Training involves interaction. And someone, a friend of mine has said in the Billy Graham thing, when I taught with the Billy Graham team, telling is not teaching. Listening is not learning. We learn to do by doing training is more about doing and less about other things. It is about listening, but it's about also learning to do and learning skills. And so we've confused teaching. We think that if we turn on the video or if we give the sermon, if we give the book that. We're teaching and we are. But we're not training. Training is different. We'll be talking about that in a future class. Number five, we have confused signs with significant. We're so caught up with the megachurches and they're often a great thing so they can offer things that a small or medium sized church that I go to can never offer.

[00:10:22] But we've confuse size with significant significance, is not about facilities and budgets and programs. Significance. It's about face to face interaction. Significance is about leaving a legacy. It's about having a vision. It's about personal transformation. It's about serving a community. It's about reviving a nation. It's about modeling Jesus where we live, work and play. You can be significant in the smallest church there. You can be significant in the smallest house. Church I was recently in China, tried to go to China once a year, twice a year, working with business leaders in China. I visited in the house church and spoken in house churches in China. I visited the churches that are above ground in China. They are both vibrant. They're different. God is using them. China's one of the countries where God is doing so many things around the world and China and Iran. God's doing unbelievable things in the Middle East. I haven't been there, but but I've been to other parts of the Middle East and in Iran, many thousands of people, Muslims are coming to Christ, many of them through visions and dreams and ways that we've never seen before. South Africa, with the global prayer movement started. God is doing some marvelous things around the world, but some of those are of size, like the Global Prayer movement and 220 nations. And some of them are very not of size, just a small house church meeting in a country of Iran or China, where only a few people know about it. But believe me, it's significant. So we've confuse size with significance. Number six, we've expected us to count, but expected the people to come to us instead of us going to them. Jesus always said, Go. Jesus always said that.

[00:12:15] He said, Come to me, your are burden heavy laden. He He wanted us to come to him when we need strength. But but in terms of reaching the world, he never asked them to come to him. Jesus always went to them. When he wanted to reach Pharaoh and kings, he sent Moses one. He wanted to reach governors. He sent Paul. When we wanted to reach the common people, he sent Peter and James and John. He didn't he didn't say, you know, you have to have a start. A little church at the temple had them come, too. You know, he he sent them out when he wanted to reach the politicians. He he sent Matthew and Zacchaeus when we wanted to reach business leaders, he sent Barnabas and Jesus equipped those leaders and then he sent them out to the groups that he wanted to minister to. Jesus said, It's always about going to them. We've had this philosophy today that if we advertise enough and we market enough and we're as sharp as the world and we can get them to our church, whether it's a small church or a large church. But the fact of the matter is that will work with a few. But in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City is in the buckle of the Bible Belt. We're right there with Dallas and Atlanta as one of the cities in our nation that's very religious, that has a church on every street corner. Do you know that this year, Sunday morning in my city, that 21% of the people will go to church? 21% of the people do? You know, probably when my children when my children were growing up, probably 40 to 50% of the people in our city went to church When I was growing up as a young man, maybe 60 to 70% of the people went to church.

[00:14:01] So in the middle of the Bible belt and the buckle of the Bible Belt, church attendance has dropped from at least 50 or 60% down to 21% on an average Sunday. The fact is they are not going to come to us. We're going to have to go to them. So our churches need to become equipping centers to equip those of us, the saints, to be able to go to them. Obstacle number seven We've confused our spiritual walk with Sunday church activities. We've bought into dualism that there's this secular sacred divide that we can come to church on Sunday and get our shot of spirituality, but that we're a totally different person on Tuesday afternoon. Where's the church on Tuesday afternoon? It's not at the church. It's out in the workplace. And we have to understand that we are the church. We as followers of Jesus Christ are the church. It's not a building. It's not a place. It's not a program. It's the Church of Jesus Christ, the body of Christ. And we have this dualistic thinking that we've separated, even as believers. We've separated our spiritual life from our secular life and not to be integrated. God wants us to integrate them so that we're the same. And so it's as we go along the way, Jesus wants us to become the church followers of Jesus impact in the world where we are. So our spiritual walk is not about just Sunday. Our spiritual walk is about walking with Christ every day. Obstacle number eight. We have focused on building the institution instead of the individual I shared with you in an earlier session. Do not give your life for an institution, even a good one. This is so easy to do, particularly for you as a leader, as a pastor.

[00:15:57] You thought, you know, I'm supposed to build my church. No, you're not. You're here to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. If you give your life to just build that church, you'll be grossly disappointed. Business Leader. If you give your life to just build that business, you'll be very disappointed because you give your life for that company. You may own it or somebody else may earn it. You give your life for 25 years for the company story. You walk away and you say, What did I give my life for? The same thing for a church or a religious organization. Listen, I've led a business. I led a business for 25 years as the owner. Every day I showed up, I worked. I did my best. But, you know, when I left that business, the only investment that I have for eternity is the lives that I invested in. I've also tried to help build a church as a lay leader in the church. And you, as a pastor, may have served in your church for five or ten or 20 years. You've given your life 24 seven. You virtually sacrificed your health, your family and many other things for that church. But when you leave that church, the only thing that's really going to matter for eternity are the lives that you've invested in. And someday, if Jesus doesn't come, that church is going to die. The building is going to be done with. It'll move to another church or they'll close it down. It could happen ten years from now or 100 years from now. But we can't give ourself for an institution. We've got to give ourself for individuals. And Mark, chapter seven, It said, You have let go of the commands of God and holding on the traditions of man.

[00:17:37] When we hold on to the traditions of men and we seek to build institutions for men instead of building men for God, then we've got the wrong track. Matthew nine We covered in the last session. The harvests are plentiful, but the laborers refuse. Therefore, you as a leader need to seize the opportunities of the hurting people. We need to share the gospel. We need to disciple the followers of Jesus. We need to equip leaders to reach out into their communities and their workplaces. We need to equip these people to impact our workplaces and our communities, our cities, our nations for Jesus Christ. So always focus on people. Wherever did Jesus go to the temple? You bet. He went to the temple that they teach in the temple? Yes, we need to teach in the temple. But most of the time after that, Jesus would ministered to hurting people and he would disciple the 12 apostles. And so we need to spend our time in ministering to hurting people and discipling the followers of Jesus who want to go to the next level. Well, obstacle number nine we have confused reputation with servant. And you see, all of us want to have a reputation. I am so prideful. I want people to think well of me. All of my life. I've wanted to have my pastor think, well, I mean my church think well, I mean, my business associates think well of me. But Jesus said, I'm not concerned so much about your reputation. I'm concerned that you're a servant. The key is authenticity. How authentic are we as servants of the Lord Jesus Christ? As followers of Jesus, we have chosen to give our life to our family, our coworkers, those people that God's called upon us to equip and disciple.

[00:19:33] The key is authenticity, participation, not our credentials. Are you as a leader serving others so that they can be as effective wherever they are that God's placed them? I found at 63 years of age that my responsibility is to find young leaders and just serve them and say, How may I help you? How am I as a leader help you and what God has called you to do? They say, Why don't you have an agenda? I go to. Business leaders. And I'm saying, how can I help you be more effective as a business leader in your business and as you serve people in your business? Pastor, How can I help you be more effective in your church? What's your agenda? I have no agenda. Today, I've led a Christian organization. I've led a business, and today I serve as a business leader. I spend about 20% of my time in business and about 70 or 80% of my time traveling around the United States and around the world, simply asking people the question, How may I help you? How am I to serve you? No agenda. Not trying to raise money and not trying to build an organization, not trying to do anything. It's that time of life when I work in business and God provides for my needs. And then when the rest of the time what I do is to say to you, you're a follower of Jesus, you're a leader in the church, you're leader in the workplace, you're an emerging leader of the next generation. How may I serve you and what God's called you to do? If you go in as a servant, it's unbelievable what God will ask you to do. It's unbelievable the opportunities you have. As Henry Blackard says, what you do is we look around our sphere of environment and we find people and we simply see where God is working in their lives, and we join God and working in their lives, Henry says.

[00:21:20] You know, we don't have to have an agenda. We don't have to have a strategy. We simply need to listen and watch where is God working? And if you will be a servant, I promise you God will have people be the path to your door. They will email me, they will call me. They will arrange for a lunch through divine appointments, not only across the nation, but in other continents and other nations. If you will truly be a servant, God will wear you out, a friend of mine said who mentored me, said, You know, I said, as a young man, I want to be usable by God. And he said, Well, can't not want to be used by God. He said, If you'll get usable, got to wear you out. That was in my twenties and thirties. So I learned how to be usable by God. I learned for him to equip me to be a useful equipment and then God will wear you out as you are used in the lives of those around you. Learn Servant Number ten. We focused on escaping the secular culture instead of invading. As I said before, Christ told us every time to go, to go, to go, we need to penetrate instead of segregate. We have so segregated. We have built walls around our churches. We have Christian television, Christian books, Christian radio, Christian schools, Christian this Christian that we need to invade the public sector. We need invade the public radio and the public TV and the public Internet and the public schools and the public government. We need to invade the public and to get out of our Christian subculture. We've tried to escape and lock the doors. And the fact of matter is, our church is not.

[00:23:04] They don't need to be just hospitals and fortresses. They need to be equipping centers to send people out. Jesus said, Go. We need to extend the walls of the church out. We need to plant churches and factories in an apartment, buildings and places. I'm saying literally at your office, you need to be a personal representative of Christ. Obstacle number 11 We focused on external change and not internal change. Jesus constantly talked about the heart and talked about the inside and Matthew and Mark and Second Corinthians and Second Corinthians, he says. Therefore, if any man be in Christ, you remember that Scripture. He is a new creature. All things are passing away. Behold, all things are becoming new. And Jesus wants us to be transformed. Jesus constantly focused on the heart and the inner man, and we are to be transformed by the Holy Spirit as we become a new creature. And so it's hard because we like to focus on the stage. We like to focus on numbers. We like to focus on buildings. I cannot tell you the churches who spend billions of dollars and buildings programs today in a time of economic crisis and now they're in debt and the churches may not survive. We've adopted the world's system of debt. We've adopted the world system of building something before we can pay for it. We focused on external change, on buildings, on programs, on marketing. We've narrowly marketed the church like we marked the world, and God has called us. Jesus always called us to look at the heart. Jesus always said to look at art. When you're looking for people, don't look at their external appearance, don't look at their talents, don't look at their outward abilities. Look for a men and women with a heart for God.

[00:24:55] They're going to be rare. They're going to be a small minority. They will not look like they're the brightest, the best, the most gifted. But you find men and women that have a heart for God and God will make them the most effective. Those are the people that we need to give our life to. And so the obstacle is we're constantly looking at the external. Jesus said, Look at the heart. And the final obstacle is number 12. We are focused on individualism instead of on teamwork. You know, giving up control is hard to do. We focused on rugged individuals that we can develop. The fact of the matter is, Jesus never did that. Paul was about as rugged as an individual as you can have, and Paul always had a team around him. Was he the leader? Yes. Was he gifted? Yes. With the 12 disciples and the apostles, were they leaders and with a rugged individualist? Yes. But he brought them together in teams of two or three as they went out and took the gospel to the nations. Jesus equipped the 12. The Holy Spirit gives various gifts and experience and talents so we can depend upon each other. None of your leaders are going to have it all. They're going to have a couple of gifts. They're going to have a couple of talents. Jesus wants us to go together in teams, and that's why we need to have people around us of various gifts and talents and abilities. Those people need to have different skills than we have, different gifts that we have, different background that we have. So we focus on the team as we go out into our communities. We need people that have great gifts, introverts, the extroverts, the people who are good teachers, the people who are doers, the people who are encouraging, the people who are wise in the area of finances and leadership and in mercy and each of the gifts.

[00:26:49] And so I would just encourage you, as you bring a team around you as a pastor, as you bring a team around you as a leader in the workplace and your leadership team get people of various gifts. We're going to be talking about leadership and future sessions and how we do that and some helpful hints on that. But bring them together as a team. These are the obstacles. I pray that they'll help you as you as you go into your church and as you're trying to take your church into a place where they become an equipping center and sending people outward. I pray that you'll be able to understand these obstacles and deal with each one of them head on. And let me pray for you as you're about to do that. Father, I thank you for these leaders. I thank you for pastors who are courageous enough to say we need to be a more outward focused church. I thank you for workplace leaders who said we need to go in and find those people who are followers of Jesus who are serious about impacting their workplace for Jesus Christ. And how can I, as a leader in the workplace, seriously impact my workplace? As we leave a seminary campus, as we leave the college campuses where the next generation of young business leaders are leaders in the church? May we be the kind of leaders that can meet these obstacles head on? And we follow the the paradigm and the world view of Jesus with a biblical worldview, not the worldview of traditions and buildings and programs and all of the things that Jesus fought with the scribes and the Pharisees. May we be a kind of church that looks at the heart and that equips these leaders to move out into the community and then paektu for Jesus Christ.

[00:28:30] Father, thank you for letting us be those kind of leaders. We pray that we'll surrender ourselves so that we will do that. And we pray this in Jesus name. Amen.

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