Should Evangelism Be the Highest Priority of Christians at Work?

This week, the Lausanne Movement has gathered more than 700 Christian leaders from 109 nations in Manila for its Global Workplace Forum. Among the many topics under discussion is where evangelism should rank among the priorities of Christians at their workplaces.

Is workplace ministry primarily about evangelism? Answers arranged from “yes” to “no”:

Gea Gort, missiologist and author of BAM Global Movement (The Netherlands):

Yes, it is! Because each Christian, having inherited the “DNA” of our Lord Jesus Christ, has a mission of reconciling the world—in and through Christ—back to God’s original intent. That is the Good News; that is evangelism. Reconciling and restoring individuals, as well as neighborhoods, systems, and ways of thinking. This will be accomplished at work and through our work—if we intentionally and earnestly seek God’s revelation regarding all aspects of our work. Time and again, I’ve witnessed this in my area of research: Business as Mission. Our message—spoken and unspoken—becomes powerful and convincing when backed up by our attitudes, business culture, and deeds at work. Then our whole lives tell a story. And let’s remind ourselves that we are not alone in our evangelistic endeavor: God desires to move and make himself known during the week in the marketplace and in our office buildings, as all things belong to him.

Joseph Vijayam, CEO of Olive Technology and Lausanne’s Catalyst for Technology (United States/India):

Workplace ministry is about sharing the gospel in word and deed—which is evangelism—but it is also about living a life that bears witness to the fruit of the gospel. In other words, it is both intentional evangelism, which is the “doing,” as well as the unintentional living, which is the “being.” Both the being and the doing will point to Christ and his gospel. In that sense, yes, workplace ministry is about evangelism, though not always intentional and certainly not limited to the narrow definition of speaking persuasively about salvation. A workplace minister is an ambassador of the gospel at all time. And by that definition, she is engaged primarily—though not exclusively—in evangelism.

Francis Tsui, president of an investment firm and member of Lausanne’s Consultation on Wealth Creation and Holistic Transformation (Hong Kong):

Jesus taught us to pray: “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” All believers should heed this calling wherever they are. In the workplace, believers should live out the presence of the incarnate Jesus as their purpose and their calling. Jesus read from the Book of Isaiah to call for bringing good news to the poor, the captives, the blind, and the oppressed (Luke 4:18-19). We likewise should be proclaiming the good news to these people in our workplace. The purpose of the good news being proclaimed is to bring about the presence of Jesus to whatever circumstances people might be in, so that people may meet Jesus where they are and experience the compassion, the love, and the relevance of Jesus in their contexts. When we do that, “evangelism” will happen. Evangelism is not just about reciting the gospel, calling for conversion, or bringing spiritual transformation. In our workplace, we believers should help people to meet Jesus, to let Jesus speak into their lives, and to see the reconciled relationship with Jesus blessing the new life relevantly and holistically. It is much more dynamic and impactful than our conventional understanding of evangelism.

Timothy Liu, healthcare administrator, Lausanne Catalyst for Workplace Ministry, and chair of GWF (Singapore):

Workplace ministry is about evangelism—and much more. If it is only just a platform for evangelism, then we have really got it wrong. Perhaps better to flip the table and say if we do workplace ministry right and well, evangelism is a natural by-product. In the 2004 Lausanne gathering at Pattaya, the Marketplace Ministry group defined the “Three Commissions”: the Cultural Commission, the Love Commission, and the Evangelistic Commission (see Lausanne Occasional Paper No. 40). They are not separate but a whole, deriving our understanding from a Trinitarian God. If we overemphasize one or the other, we essentially have an unbalanced gospel. In a postmodern world, the gospel cannot simply be heard but also seen, felt, and experienced. We need to have a deeper understanding that Christ did not just die for people, but the whole of creation that has been broken together with the rebellion of Adam and Eve. It was God who loved the “cosmos.” Therefore, the salvation of Christ necessitates the redemption and restoration of all of creation, thus the second Adam. In and through the daily work of believers in the world, we restore not only his creation but also all that is wrong and broken in this world—with expectation that full restoration comes in the form of the Holy City, both a spiritual as well as a material existence. The resurrected Christ further testifies that this restoration is both physical as well as spiritual. Our daily work transformed is therefore an anticipation of that reality and hope in Christ’s return.

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Source: Christianity Today