Witness in the World of Work (An Excerpt)

An Excerpt of Lausanne Occasional Paper 40:  Marketplace Ministry

The importance of witness at work is affirmed by the Lausanne Covenant’s definition of evangelism which says, “Our Christian presence in the world is indispensable to evangelism…” Evangelism at work has traditionally been understood as winning converts to Christ in the workplace. The work itself is seen to be of lesser importance than the work of gospel proclamation. This division of work into what is important (gospel proclamation) and what is less important (work itself) defeats witness at work because it lacks integrity and downplays the cultural mandate (Genesis 1:28).

Instead, this issue group is recommending a Trinitarian approach to witness at work in which we are fully present to our work, fully proclaiming the gospel in word and deed through our work and fully consistent in the practice of our faith at work. By being present to our work, we fulfill the cultural mandate given to Adam to reflect the Father’s glory in the wise ordering of His good creation (Genesis 1:26; Isaiah 43:7). By proclaiming the gospel in word and deed through our work, (1 Peter 3:15; Colossians 4:6) we give glory to Jesus Christ, God’s Son, who died and rose again so as to provide us a new way of being human free from the power of sin and death (Matthew 5:13a; 2 Corinthians 2:15-16; Romans 12:1-2). By the consistent and honest practice of our faith at work, we give glory to God’s Spirit (Acts 1:8) who gives life (Romans 8:11) to our effort to work differently (Titus 2:9-10) and live a life worthy of God’s calling (Ephesians 4:1).

Presence, proclamation and practice are the means to meet the challenges of pluralism and persecution in the workplace. In a pluralistic workplace we must earn the right to be heard through the way we work (1 Peter 2:11-12; 1 Corinthians 9:19-22; John 17:14-15). In times of persecution, our faithfulness to Jesus will be tested (John 15:18-20; 2 Timothy 3:12). Faith that withstands opposition and trials can be a powerful witness to those who may have heard the gospel but have not seen it demonstrated practically (1 Peter 1:6-7).

Witness at work through presence, proclamation and practice will bear fruit in discipleship. (Matthew 28:18-20). New disciples need workplace models of what it means to serve God faithfully (Philippians 4:9). Small groups at work organized around the application of God’s word in the Bible to the work context will be a support to new disciples (Hebrews 10:25). Workplaces and businesses that evidence converted work (Colossians 3:24) will be a witness to the marketplace that believers serve a different God than money (Matthew 6:24; Hebrews 13:5). Linkage with local churches will provide pastoral ministry for new workplace disciples and build up the body of Christ in community (Galatians 6:10).

In summary, witness at work is indispensable to the cause of world evangelization especially in the context of economic globalization. Gospel truth that is not concretely demonstrated cannot be recommended with integrity. Believers at work are uniquely positioned to be for our world what Jesus was for his world, a tangible demonstration of the love of God in bodily form. As Paul puts it, you are “children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…” (Philippians 2:15-16).

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Date: 05 Apr 2018