In January, I wrote a blog on a story of two nurses and a pastor, describing potentially different responses by a church and pastor to two nurses. One pastor presented the church as a place that one goes to for theological answers while the other pastor presented the church as a place where workers can carry their questions, praises, and pains to God in community.
Shortly after posting that blog, I received the following email from someone who had a strong reaction after reading it. With this person's permission, (and with bolded areas added by me), I share it with you:
My heart unexpectedly crashed when I read your blog. My head later caught up with my emotional reaction as I quietly meditated over what was going on in me.My heart was deeply saddened when I read this. It haunted me for days. The last sentence especially gripped me: "I am just beginning to understand the cost for the church and myself."
Not once in my 40-year career as a professional service provider and as an active member within three congregations over that period of time was my work ever acknowledged as a form of worship, let alone prayed over and sent out by the church. Rather the implicit message was, "That is great what you do out there. Now, can you lead a group or teach a class in the church where God's real work is done?" And I did that in each of the churches where I was a member. Over the years, church participation was something more for me to do, over and beyond the service I provided in the community, especially for families in the community who would otherwise not financially afford the professional help.
Sadly, my connection with other church members was often peppered with requests for free advice or expectations that my professional privilege should easily be brought into the church life to enhance God's Kingdom work inside the church walls. I often experienced both a deeply felt fatigue and isolation in my church participation. Church was another drain on my personal resources of time and energy. I never experienced church as a resource or support for the work I did outside the church walls.
It is not that the theology of sacred work was not preached. But it was not put into practice because neither I nor the church leaders knew the practical implementation of supporting and commissioning professional knowledge-holder's work outside of the church walls.
July 31, 2020 was my last day as a professional service provider. I surrendered my state license. A part of me is sad; a part of me feels relief. However, my role in the church remains disconnected apart from participating in corporate worship.
I am resilient. I deeply love the Lord. I will be fine. But something was missing for decades. I am just beginning to understand the cost for the church and myself.
There is cost on both sides.
The Church scattered, meaning the people of God from Monday-Saturday, suffer significantly when they are not equipped, encouraged, discipled, and commissioned to do their work as an act of worship with specific teaching on what that practically looks like.
But the Church gathered also suffers significant lose in this dichotomy between sacred and secular. The loss is so great yet often missed.
Shortly after receiving this response to the blog, I had an opportunity to meet with other Business as Mission practitioners who are also passionate about bringing this opportunity of discipleship into the church. Sadly, this group is very, very small. But I did find a kindred spirit.
Devin Dickle, from Open USA. Their motto is to "integrate the power of God and business to transform lives among the least reached. In further conversations, Devin informed me that he wrote a paper called, "Overcoming the Church and Business Divide." I encourage you to read it. You have heard this message from me as well as from Discipling Marketplace Leaders for some time, and it is good and refreshing to hear someone else deliver a very similar message. Then, if you have time for more, please listen to Devin's talk below.
I have been encouraged by this and I hope you are too. In a couple of weeks, the Business as Mission (BAM) Global Congress is going to meet, and Discipling Marketplace Leaders is going to have an opportunity to share, as well as work with other leaders who have a passion for BAM and the Church to come together. Please pray with us for this time, that it may be Spirit led and directed! We pray that we may find many more kindred spirits who have sensed a call to comprehensive discipleship of the nations!