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Spiritual Transformation in the Workplace and its Greater Community through spiritual formation.

Tam Wah Fiong

Malaysia Bible Seminary

23 September 2013

 

Introduction

Spiritual formation is the intentional and on-going process of inner transformation to Christlikeness. Many spiritually transformed individuals make a spiritually transformed community. The mission at hand is sharing the good news of redemption of God.[1]

Spiritual formation is a long process and multidimensional and requires time and spiritual gift. Holy Spirit is essential, working with believers who is available for the purpose.

In the days of Jesus Christ, He started it with the calling of disciples and the growth was slow as it was revolutional and counter culture. After Jesus Christ’s ascension, His disciples empowered with the Holy Spirit did what was greater work than Jesus Christ did. It could have been that Jesus Chirst has loosened the soil for the exponential growth. The point here is that spiritual formation take time and ploughing the soil of the community for salvation need boldness and courage and most of all the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

The call for believers to bring spiritual transformation to the community takes effort, risk, passion and patient. Working people have the best opportunity as their field are at hand. The apostle and the early church fathers work mostly outside the synagogue because these fields are plenty and ripe.[2] It is the same today, the un-churched outnumbered the believers. Therefore the best place for gospel is outside the church. Fishing is best done were there are lots of fish to catch. The probability of a catch is much higher.

Time spent in the workplace outweigh the time spent in church too. On the average a working person spent forty hours at workplace against an average of four hours at church. Time is the most important ingredient in building relationship that will be useful to open up heart to receive the gospel. Relational evangelism is the most effective type of evangelism as it provides a safe environment for exploring the faith and to make the decision of accepting salvation.

Workplace Community.

Workplace community may usually make up of a few believers and the majority of pre-believers. The pre-believers could be either religious or atheist who believes only themselves.

Believers could also be multidenominational and at different level of faith. There must be one that has the calling to marketplace ministry to stand up and lead the group. Starting with inviting believers to come and pray together; forming a small core group with the view of a community spiritual formation in process of person in formation, persons in community and persons in mission at their workplace. Its members have to understand their calling in the marketplace is ordained by God to be His high priest.

Relationship at workplace.

Relationship is the primary catalyst in evangelism therefore believers at workplace must take all effort to build the bridge of friendship among colleagues. Building the relationship should be effortless as time spent is rather long and a common work objective. This relationship must develop into a more in depth and trust filled friendship. A personal, same gender relationship provides a good ground for sharing of faith. Caution must be taken that this intimate relationship should be kept within the gender. Workplace is the fertile ground for intimate relationship of different sex to develop and it may end up having sinned with sexual relationship. Any request for help or counselling from the opposite sex best to be passed on to believer of the same sex. Under unavoidable situation, a third person must be in the meeting. Never leave a possible gap for the enemy to come and do his work of stealing, lying and destroying. Building healthy relationship is an intentional effort and a continuous process and must be enjoyed by its participants.

Spiritual formation in person at workplace.

Believers at workplace come from different denomination and culture. Leader must articulate the ultimate goal of the fellowship which is soul saving and building the kingdom of God. Once this is accepted and grounded then the work for person in spiritual formation to follow in process. The leaders have to take this calling with a long term service in mind and willing to face challenges as it progress. Differences and liking are abound and the leader must always bring the focus of the group back to the saviour and his salvation.

In this person in formation, the holistic approach is to be taken. This must take in prayers and worship as work, personal bible word input, Holy Spirit empowerment, living a Spirit filled holy life, Christ loving, healthy emotion and spiritual and physical life (may need inner healing). This is the main Christ like character and is non-exhaustive. This personal level spiritual formation is very important and will determine the success of the next level of spiritual formation that is the community. This holistic discipleship is to be rooted with the intention of transforming the soul, mind and heart to become Christ like by the power of the Holy Spirit. The desired outcome is a person fully incarnated with the love of God, servant mind of Jesus Christ and the mission extreme of the apostles.

The work life of believers at work place must genuinely exude the call of Jesus Christ to love the lord your God with all of our heart and all of your soul and all of your mind and to love your neighbours as yourselves. The in filling of the Holy Spirit enable the believer to live this command in the workplace. This group of believers will serve the workplace oikos in whatever circumstances they may be with biblical wisdom and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Spiritual formation in person set the basic of the next level of spiritual formation in community. Expanding the kingdom of God on earth very much depends on how deep is the work of the Holy Spirit in person through teachers, mentors and leaders of the workplace.

 

Spiritual formation in community at workplace.

There will be many needs in the workplace categorically personal and corporate. Courage and boldness in our faith in our resurrected Lord Jesus Christ to ask for permission to intervene for the prevailing needs introduces the Saviour and His power to colleagues both our superiors and subordinates. Workplace ministry can be categorised into two levels, personal and corporate.

Workplace is the place that working adult spent most of their time, believers are to bring God into it. Believing God is the almighty and all powerful, omniscience and omnipresent, believers must be bold to minister to others at personal level in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Praying for the sick, physical and emotional to magnify God’s power and when our colleagues were healed in the name of the most high, they will believe. When confronted with difficult situation, pray for God’s supernatural provision and intervention. Praying for colleagues and providing them with wisdom for the situation they are facing meets their need, it could be financial difficulties, family problem, relationship matters, addiction and others. In the book Transform your Work Life, a new evangelism model were introduced. Instead of the common way of preaching, ministering , fellowship and bless, Graham Power argued that the cycle should start with bless then fellowship, minister and finally preaching the gospel. This perhaps is most effective in building the relationship before preaching the gospel.[3] In so doing believers could introduce the saviour Jesus Christ in a more friendly manner. But both process flow have yielded result as recorded in the many conversion in the bible, so it is situational and Holy Spirit led, I believe.

 Believers playing the role of a pastor at workplace will open the heart of colleagues. Imitating Jesus Christ in serving the workplace community melt down hardened hearts and tear down walls of unbelief, paving way for a tentative ear and resulting in receiving salvation.

At the corporate level, if we believe God is sovereign in all things on earth then the place we work at, is included. Bible in business or bringing God’s principle into workplace is yielding to the call to be light and salt in the workplace. Seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness first is putting the glory of God’s name and principles of God before everything including putting our work and business in line. God will be please and extend His grace to us in the workplace.

God’s kingdom of bringing all good in love must be manifested in the products and services our company provides. The company adopt a service attitude towards all the community within and outside the company. The culture of respecting each other stemmed from the command to love others as self.

The product of the company brings goodness to the end user not harm. The company must only sell or make products with full integrity and useful to consumer and also conform to all legal and social requirement. Profit making should be last on its agenda after service to humankind, honesty, integrity, respect of human right and communal and societal purpose.

Corporate principal should be one that mirrored the bible teaching. The running of the business must be anchored on honesty and integrity. The enterprise carries with it the glory of God in its industry and the nations in all its conduct and innovations.

The workplace human resource policy must add on compassion and human rights to its human resource management. Pastoral care to be a standard feature in the department that will provide counselling in personal and spiritual matter that encompass all aspect of life.

Believers in position must exert influence in all areas of operation with Godly influence; supporting good decision and opposing bad intent. Believers must stand firm in the face of prosecution because of their advocacy for justice and fairness. Believers must not fear bad authority of the world because the lights will always triumph over darkness even though it may take a long time.

Corporate needs of the establishment like results concerns everybody including believers. They must step up boldly to offer intercession prayers for the result to come in miraculously. The power of God called in the present of pre-believers will call upon the ever ready angels to work. Time and again this type of miracles happens in the testimony of God’s people everywhere when believers have the courage to pray intercession prayers in public. The same goes for situation like disasters, emergency, trials, opposition, tender, bidding, competition and others, intercession prayers can be offered by believers to manifest the power of the name of Jesus Christ. Believers are to live out the book of ACTS as in the bible where the proclamations of the good news were preached without fear. Message of sin, the need to repentance and salvation were preached and followed by signs and wonders.

 The spiritual formation of person in community depends on the mission mindedness of the person or persons and this could affect the greater external community.

 

Spiritual formation in greater community at workplace.

The mission of every person in spiritual formation ought to be a full time calling and recognising this calling the believers witness everywhere at all time. Through this understanding by the spiritually well-formed believers, the impact will not only sweep through their internal community but the greater community. This evangelism may happen concurrently or one after another with no specific order.

Internal community evangelised through relationship during working time will expand to the external community through the oikos of the new believers. Their immediate family, relatives, friends and neighbours will hear of the new believer’s witness. This enthusiasm will vibrate into current and once caught on will overtime create a tsunami that overpower the reign of darkness of a city of a state.

The bible recorded of big scale conversion in the city of Ephesus after a two year period of evangelising by the apostle Paul. The same phenomena were also recorded in the early church history in the Mediterranean region in the first two hundred years after Christ.

Wholeheartedly done by well-formed believers who would emulate the early church fathers with the vision of heaven are the catalyst for the result of community spiritual transformation. This band of believers with the burning zeal for the kingdom of God will influence the whole landscape of the community including the police, council, politician, government servants, residential associations, society associations, business associations, schools, commerce and others. Involvement of a substantial number to believers will bring in justice, order, fairness into the larger community.

 

Spiritual transformation at workplace and churches.

Well-formed believers must take up their role as the pastor of the marketplace ordained by the Holy Spirit, a calling to be the preacher, witness, teacher and disciple maker with the whole of their life. This marketplace pastors must work together with churches and their pastors in the surrounding area. King Oswald invited Aidan of Lindisfarne to his kingdom of Northumbria to evangelise his subject. The king provided, supported and protected Aidan and also builds monasteries for the spread of Christianity in north Angle kingdom and Scotland in the sixth century. The partnership of kings and priests has been the tradition in the days of the kings in the bible. King David worked with Prophet Nathan during his reign of Israel.

Transforming the spiritual community in the marketplace needs the strength of the whole body of Christ. The pastors in the marketplace and the church must work together and have mutual respect for one another, working in humility and love. Churches to provide resources, training, encouragements and spiritual covering of believers and the marketplace ministers to evangelise and disciple pre-believers and new believers. The combined effort of the kingly and the priestly ministries forms a powerful force to force back the power of the enemy. Both the marketplace minister are to recognise each other’s role and focus on their respective job and wherever there are overlapping areas , the greater purpose of building the kingdom of God must be brought to focus.

Conclusion.

Evangelising a community or a city from a workplace may seem far fetch, yet from the history of Christianity this is but common. It has been happening in the last two thousand over years and is continuing to happen. It is never too ambitious or too big for God and His servant. Throughout history of Christianity the great transformation of a state or region begin with one or few believers who are yielded to God and dead to selves. Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb and as he comes he also depart (Ecclesiastes 5:15), if this verse were lived out in the life of marketplace believers, worldly possession then are dead to them and they will understand well and act as stewards and not as the owners of assets and materials. The marketplace ministers and the church ministers will be of the same mind of a life career of a servant to Jesus Christ, our Lord of lords and King of kings.

Transforming spiritual community at workplace and the greater community including a city and state is possible. It must however begin with spiritual formation of person leading onto the community and on to sweeping the greater community and state.

 

 

Bibliography

Averbeck, Richard E. "Spirit, Community, And Mission: A Bibical Teology for Spiritual Formation." Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care (Insitutue of Spiritual Formation, Biola University) Vol. 1, no. No. 1 (2008): 27-53.

Houston, James M. "Future of Spiritual Formation." Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care (Institute of Spiritual Formation Biola University) Vol. 4, no. No. 2 (2011): 131-139.

Needham, N. R. 2000 Years of Christ's Power Part One: The Age of the Early Fathers. London: Grace Publication, 1997.

Power, Graham, and Dion Forster. Tranform your Work Life. Cape Town: Struik Christian Media, 2010.

Silvoso, Ed. Annointed for Business. Singapore: Campus Crusade Asia Limited, 2009.

Tang, Alex. "The Process of Spiritual Formation." Leading Change in Spiritual Formation Communities. Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia Bible Seminary, 2013.

Willard, Dallas. "Spiritual Formation and the Warfare between the Flesh and the Human Spirit." Journal of Spiritual Formation ad Soul Care (Institute of Spiritual Formation University Biola) Vol.1, no. No.1 (2008): 79-87.

 

 


 

[1] Alex Tang, "The Process of Spiritual Formation," Leading Change in Spiritual Formation Communities, Malaysia Bible Seminary, September 2013.

[2] Unless otherwise stated all scripture quotation are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version ( NIV) 1984, International Bible Society.

[3] Graham Power and Dion Forster, Transform your Work Life (Cape Town: Struik Christian Media, 2010), 133

 

 

 

               

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