Have you ever been part of “a movement”? The employees of Pyramid HealthCare, headquartered in Whitney, Texas, certainly have been. On September 25, 2006, Mike Tummillo, a licensed/ordained non-denominational minister was hired on by owner Diane Ward to serve the spiritual needs of the organization's 500-plus employees spread out located in ten facilities ranging from Baird to Paris, Stephenville to Grand Saline. Tummillo, previously the Communications Director for the award-winning Stephenville Chamber of Commerce, has served on the staffs of several churches in Grand Prairie, Arlington and Stephenville, and said, "I've been wanting to serve as a Workplace Chaplain since I met a man who was serving in that role for Gerber Baby Foods about 12 years ago. He had been a traditional church pastor previously and told me he'd never go back to that after serving in Workplace Ministry. I guess the Lord saw that I was finally prepared to handle the task."
Laura Nash, a Business Ethicist at Harvard University, affirms the need saying, "Spirituality in the workplace is exploding." Fortune Magazine, 2001, reported that, “… a mostly unorganized mass of believers--a counterculture bubbling up all over corporate America--who want to bridge the traditional divide between spirituality and work. Historically, such folk operated below the radar, on their own or in small workplace groups where they prayed or studied the Bible. But now they are getting organized and going public to agitate for change.” The article continued: "People who want to mix God and business are rebels on several fronts. They reject the centuries-old American conviction that spirituality is a private matter. They challenge religious thinkers who disdain business as an inherently impure pursuit. They disagree with business people who say that religion is unavoidably divisive.”
Hear that, Pyramid? They're calling you a rebel.
IS THIS MOVEMENT SCRIPTURAL?
“Indeed, as with first-century Christianity, it all begins in the marketplace, where the disciples of Jesus daily rub shoulders with the lost.” - Bill McCartney of Promise Keepers in his book, Anointed for Business
Is that true? Where’s the Biblical precedent for such a movement? In the New Testament, it’s recorded that Jesus made 132 public appearances. Of these, 122 were in the marketplace, not the synagogue. He spent half of His adult life as a carpenter until age 30 before taking His ministry into the workplace. Stands to reason. After all, that’s where most people spend the majority of their lives.
Jesus could have built His ministry team around clergymen, but He chose 12 working men instead. Of His 52 parables, 45 had a workplace context. In the Book of Acts, of 40 divine interventions recorded there, 39 occurred in the marketplace. Someone did the math and determined that 54% of Jesus’ reported teaching ministry arose out of issues posed by others in the scope of daily life experience. Let’s face it, when a person has issues at home, they bring those issues to work. Jesus met them where they were.
MIXING SECULAR WITH SACRED
“The spiritual manifests itself in a life which knows no division into sacred and secular.” - Oswald Chambers, Author of My Utmost for His Highest
According to Tummillo, the truth is, Work is Worship. "The Hebrew word "avodah" is the root for the word from which we get the words “work” and “worship.” Work, in its many forms, is mentioned over 800 times in Scripture. That’s more than all the words used to express worship, praise, music and singing combined!"
Some of the most well-known ministers in the western world are recognizing the legitimacy of this Faith at Work movement. Dr. Billy Graham said, "I believe one of the next great moves of God is going to be through the believers in the workplace.” His son, Franklin, of Samaritan's Purse Ministry, put it in the present tense: "God has begun an evangelism movement in the workplace that has the potential to transform our society as we know it."
Henry Blackaby, author of Experiencing God, meets regularly with CEOs of Fortune 500 companies to discuss what it means to bring Christ into the workplace. He states: "I've never seen the activity of God this deeply in the business community as I do right now....God is marshalling his people in the workplace as never before in history. God is up to something. The next spiritual awakening could take place in the marketplace.”
Dorothy Sayers, writer and theologian, put it wonderfully. She says, "In nothing has the church so lost Her hold on reality as in Her failure to understand and respect the secular vocation. She has allowed work and religion to become separate departments, and is astonished to find that, as a result, the secular work of the world is turned to purely selfish and destructive ends, and that the greater part of the world's intelligent workers have become irreligious, or at least, uninterested in religion. But is it astonishing? How can anyone remain interested in a religion which seems to have no concern with nine-tenths of life? The church's approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours, and to come to church on Sundays. What the church should be telling him is this: that the very first demand that his religion makes on him is to make good tables."
Respected researcher, George Barna, in his book Boiling Point, writes: “Workplace ministry will be one of the core future innovations in church ministry.”
COUNTERING THE CULTURES
“Societal transformation is high on God’s agenda and the chief catalytic force to bring it about will be Christians ministering in the marketplace.” - C. Peter Wagner, Chancellor, Wagner Leadership Institute
Tummillo states, "Christianity is not merely another sub-culture; it’s a counter culture. It’s not merely another religion; it’s a relationship. A relationship with Jesus is the ONLY way provided for human beings to secure that relationship with their Creator. We, as Christians, are part of a Kingdom of priests and Kings, Most of us just don’t know it yet."
Land Cope of YWAM hit the nail on the head with these words: "We have more Christians today per capita with less impact on the culture than ever before. We are big and we are weak."
As we read and hear reports about the nations of China and India and how committed they are to taking the lead in this global economy, we see opportunity for well-equipped, savvy Christians to boldly declare, “Bring ‘em on!” Tummillo adds, "I don’t know about you, but I can’t get to China and India to minister to them and shine the light of truth. God, in His infinite wisdom, is bringing them to US instead! Come West, young men...women, too! I recall a minister in Bible College who had spent years in South Africa speaking prophetically to his class, warning us that Islam was on the rise. I remember taking it with a grain of salt. “I don’t even know anybody from the Middle East, “I said to myself. God’s bringing them HERE to attend universities and participate in commerce. What are we going to do with the opportunity?"
The Christian business community should take note. Bill Pollard, Chairman of ServiceMaster, wisely said: “In today’s global community, the greatest channel of distribution for ‘salt and light’ is the business community… the marketplace.”
Poultry producers, Pilgrim’s Pride, reportedly spends hundreds of thousand of dollars annually on Workplace Chaplains to come into the plant and minister to their 35,000 employees. Cliff Butler, vice chairman of the company, says: "Although it's intangible, we feel we've had a good return on every dime we spent [on workplace ministers]. We believe there's a payoff, and it's not always with dollars, It's with the feeling of gratitude of the employees to us."
WHERE DOES THE LOCAL CHURCH FIT INTO THIS MOVEMENT?
"Workplace believers seldom feel served by their churches in their jobs and careers on issues of faith and biblical ethics." - Pete Hammond, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship
Is Workplace Ministry part of most local churches today? Sadly, no. In many cases, where it CAN be found, it’s merely as another bolt-on evangelism program that isn’t taken too seriously by leadership. "Personally, though I’ve spoken in my share of churches across denominations, I’ve yet to see one workplace ministry launched from a church," Tummillo said.
Consider this statement by Doug Sherman, author of Your Work Matters to God. "Our surveys reveal that 90-97% of Christians have never heard a sermon relating biblical principles to their work life." Tummillo concurs, "Most church members have never been trained, equipped and released into the workplace by their church leaders, the one place where they spend 60-70% of their waking hours. The problem is that the teaching Christians DO receive is often not relevant for what most Christians need in order to impact their workplaces...Workplace Ministry can change the world. One employee at a time."
THE ROLE OF CHURCH LEADERSHIP IN THIS MOVEMENT
"I believe pastors will be the last to really embrace this movement because it is such a new paradigm. However, ultimately, they will be the instruments God will use to make the greatest impact in the movement because of their influence in so many people's lives." - Os Hillman, Director, International Coalition of Workplace Ministries
“The most common self-inflicted put-down is ‘I am not a pastor—I am just a layperson.’ This is all part of a clever satanic scheme to neutralize apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers along with the entire army of disciples, already positioned in the marketplace.” - Ed Silvoso, Anointed for Business, Harvest Evangelism
Tummillo, agrees saying, "The world needs ministers and Christian leaders to equip their people to be effective where they spend the majority of their time: the workplace. In order to do this it has to be intentional, long term and foundational to the church. Church leaders must buy into the concept completely...it's interesting how we tell people to COME to Church while the Scriptures repeatedly tell us to GO!"
Pastor Dick Halverson once said, "There is a distinction between church work and the work of the church. Church work is what you do for the organized institution of the church. The work of the church is what is done between Sundays when the church is scattered all over the metropolitan area where it is located - in homes, schools, offices, on construction jobs, in market places."
Os Hillman wrote, “The church in the workplace is the purest form of the body of Christ today due to its diversity. Workplace believers are less prone to denominational differences because they have a common goal of representing Christ in their workplaces. The movement will break down denominational barriers that have been held in the past.”
Dallas Willard writes in The Spirit of Discipline: “There is truly is no division between sacred and secular except what we have created. And that is why the division of the legitimate roles and functions of human life into the sacred and secular does incalculable damage to our individual lives and the cause of Christ. Holy people must stop going into “church work” as their natural course of action and take up holy orders in farming, industry, law, education, banking, and journalism with the same zeal previously given to evangelism or to pastoral and missionary work.”
SO, IS IT A MOVEMENT?
“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” - God Almighty, from His Book, The Holy Bible, Isa. 43:19
Is God doing something new?
Is the cloud moving?
If you’re a minister and need help getting this message across to your congregation, Tummillo makes himself available. "If you want help, it’s there for you. Books, tapes, CD’s abound on the subject where once there was none. Get online and Google “Workplace Ministry,” “Faith at Work,” something like that."
In a speech he made on the subject of Workplace Ministry, Tummillo said, "John 21:6 reveals Jesus telling His disciples, “...Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes..” Consider what was happening here:
1) They were working; doing their usual jobs as fishermen, 2) They were STILL doing their same ol’ job when Jesus suggested they fish on the OTHER side. Not much changed...but their perspective, and 3) The simple act of obedience ultimately resulted in a miracle, increased their faith in Him as they began to know him as Lord experientially. So, get on board with what God is doing. Could it be we've all been strategically placed in our job for a godly purpose? Could it be we were born for such a time as this?"
Pastor Mike and 4,000 other Workplace Chaplains across the nation seem to think so.
Read more articles by Michael Tummillo or search for articles on the same topic or others.