Connecting a group of people to its purpose starts with leaders. We’re tempted to talk more about the sacred. However, if God is redeeming all things, we must reframe how we invite others to a fresh Theology of Work.
This forces some of us into a tense moment of dichotomy. If we, the Church, are a visible and recognizable entity living out the Father’s love in every city, it requires much of us. When a local congregation understands its true character as a holy priesthood, its most important contribution is its witness to the Kingdom of God; counteracting the world’s social order by demonstrating faith, hope, and love.
As my mentor John Maxwell has said, “Most lost people will not come to church for help. Church is not on the radar screen of most lost people. Since you are the church, you can go where they are.” John and I are so passionate about this that we are presently working on a book to help equip all people to live more significant and transformational lives.
The local church is, “the presence of the one holy catholic and apostolic church that we acknowledge in the creeds.” – Lesslie Newbigin, A Theological Life
Helping others embrace their true character as holy priesthood involves leaders—especially in the pastoral community—equipping them for secular employment. Fundamental changes happening in our world (and very quickly) force us to adjust what it means to be a good minister of the Gospel in our times.
When, “…the congregation understands its true character as a holy priesthood for the sake of the work, and its members are equipped for the exercise of that priesthood in their secular employment, then there is a point of growth … from which the subversion of the principalities and powers and the first shoots of a new creation can develop.”1
As John has shared with me, “The world is filled with people who are hungry. They need salt to purify and enhance their lives. They are blindly wandering in the dark. They need light so they can see who God is, what he has done, and what he wants to do in and through them. And this is where you can make a difference as a leader. Start shaking salt and shining light for them today.”
The Church exists to raise people up to believe and live the Gospel. Not to be the new social order, but to be the primary witness of the Kingdom of God. The enormous preponderance of the Church’s witness is in the thousands of parishioners who work in secular society, which is not a neutral area. The world is already occupied with a mélange of gods and other narratives.
When an individual operates in their anointing, it looks like daily living as a missionary wherever God has placed them. The new reality is living a whole life rooted in Christ, indwelled by the Holy Spirit within a community—beyond the gathering of the Church. The lifeblood of the Church is sprinkled into community and couched in a wide variety of callings.
“If the Church is going to meet and master the forces which are shaping the secular world of our time, she needs to put a far greater proportion of her strength behind the work of the theologians; she needs a theology which is not the mere product of changing moods and fashions but deeply based on Scripture, stated in terms in which the world lives, relevant to the forces which are actually shaping the lives of men. It is not sufficient for the Church to attend to tactics: she must attend first to truth.” – Lesslie Newbigin
The time is over for a Gospel that only calls people to the future. Mission is as wide as life; we must be a witness to the good news that Christ infuses and transforms every area of life from marriage to politics. We extend an invitation to the now when we teach and train people to live a whole life, fully believing in their calling and consistently living as the salt and light our world is dying for. It’s both word and deed. Privatized faith will no longer do, we must explode Kingdom life into every space and crevice.
You have to deconstruct before you rebuild. A contemporary understanding that abolishes the divide between the sacred and secular will take time. Praying that fresh revelation brings holy revolution.
1 Lesslie Newbigin, A Theological Life