Dear Pastor – Expect More of Marketplace Ministers

This is a draft email I never sent to an actual pastor. Rather than sending this, I have open conversations with my pastors on this topic regularly. Actually, this type of topic is much better handled face-to-face. If you’re tempted to send something like this to your pastor, schedule some one-to-one time with them instead.

Dear Pastor:

Have you ever heard of “the soft bigotry of low expectations”?[1]

I admit I’ve been challenged by your teaching these last few years as we’ve been a small part of this church. You do a great job challenging me to a closer relationship with Christ; one where I’m engaged both in my mind and my heart and where I have an active role in the kingdom of heaven.

However, for many of my years as a believer, I feel the organized local church concentrates on equipping me to serve here at our local church. I have not found any local churches that equip me much for full-time ministry in the marketplace.

And this contrast seems most sharp around traditional holidays like Christmas and Easter. We seem to spend a tremendous amount of effort putting on events in the building and asking members to invite people to come here.

Full-time Ministry or Full-time Job

Ever since I became a Christian, I’ve longed to have a full-time ministry. Over and over I’ve asked God to put me in a position where I could live my faith all day, every day.  But Jesus never took me out of the marketplace. I came to realize God saved me so I could serve him in my work.  Every attempt I made to “go into ministry” ended up back where I had to go to work again. After 9/11, I tested this several more times, each time ending up back in the workplace, re-energized to serve people I work with so they might see Jesus.

However, each Sunday, I feel the church’s practical expectation of me is to do little more than invite others to church. It seems the church’s highest expectation of me is that I would teach or lead something happening at the church.  Each Sunday we have a list of things happening here. I should come. I should bring someone. Some Sundays we challenge people to invite their friends more than once. Does the church believe inviting others is my best possible contribution?

Low Expectations = Soft Bigotry

I came away with the phrase, “the soft bigotry of low expectations” ringing in my mind.

I’m confident I’m being overly sensitive. I know you and the staff expect more of us because of the power of the Holy Spirit who indwells us. But so much energy goes into creating this full-service church experience each weekend and the only outcome we seem to expect is that I would come back next week with someone else. I feel like we’re shooting for the “least” I can do. 

Every Member is a Full-time Minister

I want to be a full-time minister in my workplace. Would you help me with my ministry? You do ministry. Could you help me launch my ministry to the people I already spend time with every day? I don’t believe the Holy Spirit dwells in me to get me to invite people to come here. I believe it’s my job to deliver the gospel all the time. I hope Sunday taking part in our worship equips me to do the work of service to the people I see every day.

Even if you can’t help me launch my own workplace ministry, would you pray for me? Maybe you can help me with this attitude problem.  I admit this has bugged me for years. But if I believe I’m called to serve people in my job, shouldn’t a challenge to invite people to church bug me a little? 

Our church has a history of recruiting, training, and assisting missionaries around the world. If I am a missionary to my workplace, can you help me minister more effectively there?

Have you ever felt this way? Do you feel the pull to connect your eternal life to your daily life? Maybe you’re a church or business leader or who knows someone who might have written this. Follower of One exists to help every workplace believer experience the joy and purpose of intentionally walking with Jesus full-time, in our current job or line of work. Join our community or contact us for more information.

Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash

[1] Originally quoted by George W. Bush in a speech to the NAACP in 2000, written by Michael Gershon

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