Tag Archives: worklife

Is the Gap Between Pulpit and Pew Narrowing? Latest Research from LeTourneau University

Is the Gap Between Pulpit & Pew Narrowing? Read about the Latest Research

Dallas TX: New research conducted by the Barna Group for the Center for Faith & Work at​ LeTourneau University shows a substantial uptick in the number of pastors who say they preach on work. However, most church-goers still doubt the significance of their work to God.

“While American church-goers hear more sermons on work these days, there’s still a gap between what’s preached from the pulpit and what’s grasped by those in the pew,” says Bill Peel, Executive Director.

The research revealed that 70 percent of Christians do not see how their work serves God’s purposes, and 78 percent see their work as less important than the work of a pastor or priest.

Jim Mullins is a pastor who’s been pondering this breakdown of communication between the pulpit and the pew. In an insightful article, Mullins tells how one of his parishioners—a biomedical engineer who developed devices to help doctors detect early-stage cancer—was considering a career change to become a pastor or missionary. He told Mullins, “I don’t want to waste my life. I want to do something that has real significance, where I can glorify God and actually love people.”

Mullins says this faulty perspective was not for lack of hearing sermons on God’s view of work. He writes,

At our church, we preach the lordship of Christ over all aspects of life, offer classes about the theology of work, and repeat our favorite phrase every Sunday: “All of life is all for Jesus.”

After mulling why the message about the broad scope of the gospel and its implications for work wasn’t getting through to the engineer, Mullins had a revelation.

I realized that the issue wasn’t with what he heard, but with what he saw. He frequently heard teaching about the importance of vocation and all-of-life discipleship, but he never saw anyone’s work—apart from pastoral, missionary, and nonprofit work—publicly celebrated.

Pastors are awakening to the importance of helping people integrate faith and work. But it’s going to take more than sermons and classes to inculcate a biblical theology of work. Like the engineer, most of us need not only to hear that our work is important to God, we need to see it honored and celebrated as well.

Over the past four years, Barna Group research commissioned by LeTourneau University’s Center for Faith & Work has uncovered some important trends.

In 2011 our research …

  • Nearly all (93 percent) of pastors said that helping people integrate faith into daily work is “very important.”
  • Two-thirds (68 percent) of those pastors questioned their understanding of workplace issues.
  • Only half (49 percent) of churchgoing, employed Christians “strongly agreed” that their church provided information, guidance, and support to live out faith at work.
  • One in four (26 percent) of pastors said their sermons addressed faith at work.
  • Fewer than one in ten (8 percent) of pastors said they provided prayer support for workplace issues.
  • Only a fraction (3 percent) of pastors reported visiting their members at work.

Fast forward three years and note increases our new research reveals.

In 2014 …

  • Over one-third (36 percent) of senior Protestant pastors say they preached a sermon on what the Bible says about God’s view of work within the past month.
  • An additional 36 percent say they have preached on work in the past six months.
  • In all, 86 percent of pastors have preached a sermon within the last year that focused on what the Bible says about God’s view of work, and specifically on how one’s faith should impact one’s work.

According to Peel, “These findings indicate a significant surge in the attention pastors are giving to the importance of faith and work—an encouraging trend indeed! However, there’s a still a gap between what parishioners are hearing about the importance of their work to God, and they are seeing.”

The new research shows that, apart from pastoral and missionary work, little attention has been paid to publicly celebrating the work most parishioners do between Sundays.

  • During the last year, fewer than one in five (18 percent) of churches publicly dedicated or commissioned their members to serve God in the places where they work.

“I believe that this gap between what is preached and what is celebrated continues to cloud how people assess the value of their work to God,” says Peel.

  • Over two-thirds (70 percent) of Christians still cannot envision how the work they do serves God.
  • Almost four out of five church-goers (78 percent) doubt that the work they do is equal in importance to the work of a pastor or priest.

“Clearly, increased preaching and teaching about faith and work is a positive, praiseworthy step, but much more is needed. Churches must become fully engaged in shaping people spiritually for the workplace. A powerful next step is to schedule time in worship services to publicly celebrate all kinds of work that advance God’s creation,” advises Peel. “This simple action can help people connect God’s truth with their work in life-changing ways.”

Find ideas for conducting a commissioning service by clicking here.

ABOUT THE RESEARCH

The 2014 data about pastors originated through research conducted by Barna Group of Ventura, California. The questions were commissioned by the Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University. The PastorPollSM included 602 telephone interviews conducted among a representative sample of senior pastors of Protestant churches from within the continental U.S. The telephone interviews were conducted from June 3 through June 13, 2014. The sampling error for PastorPollSM is +/-4 percentage points, at the 95% confidence level. The cooperation rate in the PastorPollSM was 96%.

The 2014 data about church-goers originated through research conducted by Barna Group of Ventura, California. The questions were commissioned by the Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University. The OmniPollSM included 1,036 online surveys conducted among a representative, nationwide sample of adults ages 18 and older.  The online interviews were conducted from September 2 through September 10, 2014. The sampling error for OmniPollSM is +/-3.1 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. The participation rate in the Fall 2014 OmniPollSM was 95%.

The 2011 data about pastors originated through research conducted by Barna Group of Ventura, California. The questions were commissioned by the Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University. The PastorPollSM included 646 telephone interviews conducted among a representative sample of senior pastors of Protestant and Catholic churches from within the 48 continental United States. The survey was conducted from May 26, 2011 through June 20, 2011. The sampling error for this PastorPollSM is +/-4% at the 95% confidence level.

The 2011 data about church-goers originated through research conducted by Barna Group of Ventura, California. The questions were commissioned by the Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University. The OmniPollSM included 1,007 telephone interviews conducted among a representative sample of adults over the age of 18 within the 48 continental states. The survey was conducted from August 1, 2011 through August 14, 2011. Only those adults who self-identified as Christian or Catholic, who attended church in the past six months, and who were employed full-time or part-time qualified to participate in the module of questions for LeTourneau University. In this study, a total of 350 adults qualified to participate. The sampling error for a sample of this size (n=350) is plus or minus 5.2 percentage points, at the 95% confidence level.

– See more at: http://www.centerforfaithandwork.com/node/804#sthash.ndE6cXFa.dpuf

Unemployment it’s especially hard during the holidays. Enjoy the holidays, but on Monday try this

I have developed a heart for those dealing with unemployment. I worked in corporate finance for twenty years and went through my share of. Corporate challenges  I do know the drill. If you are dealing with this I am sure you have been working hard, doing all the things that are recommended and still keeping a great attitude. I would certainly encourage you to keep trusting in God, looking for His will and trusting that he is moving you where you should be.  I truly hope that you will take your foot off the pedal for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Keep a positive attitude, keep regular hours do what you can do but take time to enjoy family and friends to let a group like ours give support, for your pastor to encourage and give comfort. I know how you’re feeling and you need to stop beating yourself. This time of year is particularly tough for two groups, those who have lost a loved one and those who are unemployed. Please be with brothers and sisters in Jesus and enjoy their support. If you are in the York, Pa area and we can provide support of clothing, food, fellowship, please don’t hesitate to contact me at bm2driskell@aol.com.

Now something to think about for next week, maybe you’re kind of in a rut so try this. This is something we suggest to people in the group we facilitate, but now it is backed up with professional opinion. The following is from “Men’s Health” Jul/August 2014 page 20:

“Donating your time really will help you get ahead. In a study in the “Journal of Career Assessment”, unemployed people who volunteered weekly were far more likely to have a job within six months than those who didn’t lend a hand. Even those who volunteered less than two hours a week had a better shot at being hired elsewhere, says Varda Konstam PhD, the study’s lead researcher. The key word here is “elsewhere”. The ability to ladle out soup doesn’t mean you’re qualified to work only in a cafeteria. Interviewers are increasingly viewing such basic skills as indicators of broader skill sets. That means serving soup isn’t about serving soup; it shows that you’re good at customer service and work well with others. Try telethons to show off your sales and marketing tactics  or find another opportunity in your area at volunteermatch.org ”

i have seen at least two people in our group end up with really great positions by following this advice. One other note we are more and more seeing ages forty and over with this group. Either they’re the only ones taking the initiative to be part of such group or it’s hitting older workers. I’d be willing to be a combination of both. Any discussion on that would be appreciated we would like to get better in this area and input would be appreciated. Again Happy Thanksgiving and God bless.

Our daily bread. How far does that go?

I’m not trying to be snarky or a wise guy, but I am going to be frank. Ya, we are promised our daily bread and even at that, it’s what we “need”, not what we would like. I’ve heard plenty of people lean over the counter at Burger King say “ya, I ‘need’ a Whopper”. We kind of throw the word “need” around a little loosely. Believe me when I tell you, I can directly relate to what many are coping with in today’s corporate world. We as Americans and business people continue to try and reconcile the “American Dream” with being Christians. Like it or not, they are irreconcilable. Paul writes: “ESV Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” I think this really kind of cuts to the chase.
I would never say and frankly I don’t think Paul would either, to stop striving, to not follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. Does the Holy Spirit lead us to strive and succeed in any aspect of life? Yes, He does. But if we look at the people most intimately involved with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit (yesterday was Pentecost), we, as Americans, would look at these men and not call any of them a “success”. All things being even, we’d probably think of them as fanatical hippies and dismiss them as unrealistic and certainly not worthy of being role models or any kind of mentors. What would you say your “emotional needs” are? I think I know, believe me, I know the drill, by now in my career I should have had an MBA and was the CFO of a mid-cap company, nothing huge maybe $500 million cap. But at the same time, I’ve realized that it seems a little like Paul who was all set to go to Asia and he has a vision to go to Greece. We will never know, but it seems that had to change the course of history. For whatever reason God chose Europe to be evangelized and the part of the world Paul would have gone to is probably the most contentious part of the world. In that same sense, the Holy Spirit can move us in the opposite direction we intended. Jesus promised us life and life more abundant (John 10:10). Do we have life “more abundant” in Christ? Yes? Just by virtue of Him being our Lord we have abundant life. Is that “abundant life” necessarily in this life, that is do we realize the complete abundance of life in Christ in the world? No. When? In the resurrection, when we will be restored to our bodies, to the world as it was meant to be. Not a world fallen in sin and death, but an eternal world that is restored in Christ’s return to where the Father had intended the world to be.
We as men, as Americans, as people in a time and place that even two generations ago would have been unimaginable. Do we have emotional “needs”? Yes, they are fulfilled in the peace, joy and provision of the Lord. Brother I know where you’re at. I wanted the esteem, the recognition, the prestige. Let’s face it, no matter how high we go there is always higher. I was just watching an episode of Frasier. He is receiving a “Life-time Achievement” award and realizes, maybe he’s at the pinnacle of his life, “what to do with the rest of my life.” We have expectations of our own, of our spouse, children, the rest of our family, our peers, on and on. I know the drill, I’ve known the drill in corporations, in the military and yes, believe it or not, I’m kind of going through that right now in the church. I’ve only been ordained, not even four years, and I’ve got those thoughts rolling around in my head, more, bigger, faster. Frankly, I feel that I’m under spiritual attack and I think that those who are resting in Christ are going to be under even more attack. There are many stories of saints overtly tempted by Satan with many kinds of earthly desires. For we Christians, we will be tempted and challenged in Christ. Peter tells us: “ESV 1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” Something strange is not happening to you, whether it’s your own ego, your spouse, dad, kids, peers, ad infinitum, what matters is what is in Jesus.

Now you may not like the following, but I will say this, you’re a guy. Guys are supposed to go out and slay the biggest animal to eat, have the biggest fanciest cave, be the most accomplished among our peers, but it’s not about us, it’s about Him and what He has for our life. Thirty years ago when I started with Chase Manhattan I would have laughed in your face if you had told me that I would be a Lutheran pastor in York, Pa. (I’m from the Boston area). I was, at best, a nominal/cultural Christian. Frankly I really wouldn’t have probably understood what you were talking about and wouldn’t really have cared that much. The Holy Spirit took me in hand and there’s been a lot of events in my life that could have only been Him and He puts me where He wants me. Do I think this is it? Frankly no, but it could be and at this point in the game, I doubt I would be surprised either way.
Now the not so gentle part. I see you getting “tunnel-visioned”, I certainly understand why. Many reading this are guys, probably about the same age, we’ve done a lot and we were expecting the American dream, which means a senior level job, seven figure salary, (at least mid-six), a fat retirement account, at least one nice car for everyone in the household (read Mercedes level), of course one doesn’t summer where one winters, does one? At our age that’s beginning to slip away, in fact in our age group we stand a very good chance of not retiring or continuing to work to some degree until we’re called to be in His presence. We’re tempted to dump it on God and say “hey, that wasn’t supposed to be the deal”. As an American? Ya probably. As a Christian? No we have to be open to the Spirit’s leading. Even if you did have all the ego gratification and material gratification, would that mean that the Spirit wouldn’t be pushing on you? Those in the Acts church gave everything they had in common with their brothers and sisters. Have you really taken it in prayer to the Father? Have you really asked Him what is His will? Are you afraid of the answer? Do you think He is going to tell you to sell everything, learn some unknown language and move to some exotic place? I doubt it, but maybe He’s moving you to take your skills, any/all of them, to apply them for others, maybe in His church, maybe for some other deserving civic group? We all get way too caught up in our careers and more and more material/ego gratification and we tend to shut out the Holy Spirit and what He is guiding you to. Take some serious time in prayer, take some time in Bible study, in journaling. Write down what the Spirit is really putting on your heart, be open to Him and His leading and try to put aside your pre-conceived notions. God told us His ways are not our ways. What He is trying to do in you is probably something that would never have occurred to you and maybe you have cut yourself to any leading other than your own. I do understand, we all go through that regardless of our position. But yes frankly I think middle-aged, professionally trained men are especially susceptible. Look for His guiding, in 35 odd years He has led me to places I would have never expected and He truly has always provided, maybe not to what I wanted or expected, but certainly to what I needed, I really can say that I have never wanted and quite often have received more then I expected.

If you are not a part of a church body I would definitely encourage you to be, you are certainly welcome at First St Johns. If you are at a church sit down with your pastor and discuss further with him. You are definitely not unusual, this is a struggle we all have, may God richly bless you and help you to see His will, when we are in His will we will know joy, peace and prosperity, even while the things around us may not seem that way. We are starting a Men’s Group at First St Johns, maybe associating with Christian men in a small group setting might help you to get a better perspective, help you to feel less isolated. And our Coffee Break Bible Study meets at the church 140 W King St in York, Pa. 10am Wednesday mornings, park right behind the church and go in the back door.
Pastor Jim Driskell