Faith & Work

Restoring Connections Between Vocation, Community, and Belief

Ministry of Faith and Work

The faith and work ministry at F-CUMC is discipling Christians to understand that their work; whether a Carta bus driver, a stay at home parent, a teacher, retiree, engineer or whatever, is part of God’s plan to renew the brokenness in our current world toward what is coming in His kingdom of heaven on earth. 
Is there a theology of work? Yes, God was a worker and created us in His image. Our salvation one day will result in an eternity with God, but while on earth we are to love neighbor and glorify God through our work. We are to align our lives with God’s mission and purpose for the world...and ourselves. In our American culture we often classify things in life as secular or spiritual. Going to church, a small group bible study, a mission trip, or volunteering for the homeless, hungry or prisoners are roles many put in the spiritual bucket. Unless we work on a church staff or maybe a faith based nonprofit, many view their work as being in the secular bucket. This duality is not biblical. Unfortunately for too many of us, the result is that work is less engaging than it should be and often less joyfull. It may seem that work is really a means to the end of an income and some self identity. In reality we live out our calling in service to God and others in everything we do….including our work. 
Our faith and work ministry is to engage those in the pews and chairs in discipleship, that reframes your work, in the way that will align it (paid and unpaid) to God’s plan for the renewing of this city and region.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a ministry of faith and work?

Is there a theology of work?

 The desire is to nurture whole person Christians by building a bridge between personal faith and work. We are to be followers of Christ in all our roles in life---as parents, or as a spouse, or as a worker.  A large part of our waking hours are engaged in a job, a career.  Our faith and work ministry is focused in discipling Christians to understand work 1) through a lens of glorifying God (1 Cor 10:31) and 2) of loving our neighbors (Matt 22:36-40).

What is the purpose of work?

As God moves forward in his plan of restoration, he could transform all of humankind in an instant.  But the plan He chose was to invite us to change from the inside out (to be reborn) and then to minister to others.  It is through our work, where most spend the largest part of our waking hours, that we are able to glorify God and to contribute to the common good by loving others.  It is in and through our work that the love of Christ should shine brightly.
Yes.  Work is integral to the four-part scripture story of creation, fall, redemption and restoration. In the very beginning of scripture we see how God was about the work of creating.  He created humans in his image, which means we are his image-bearer--a reflection (like a mirror) revealing who God is to others in the world. Before the Fall, God gave Adam and Eve important work in the Garden of Eden. They were given the work of cultivating, developing and protecting God’s creation.  Work is not a curse, but a gift from God given to us from the beginning.  One result of the Fall, however, is that our work will at times be frustrating and difficult.  
God offers us redemption through Christ’s life, death and resurrection. Through faith and repentance we can have an eternal life, but that eternal life is not some future event, it begins now. God is already restoring his creation through those who seek the will of God to be done, as it says in The Lord's Prayer, "On earth as it is in heaven."  Someday, with Christ’s second coming, the Kingdom of Heaven on earth will be a full reality.  
Our work is to be a part of our worship.  Worship is not something limited to Sunday, but instead occurs all week long.  It is through our work that we are able to glorify God and demonstrate our love for others. Think about it as Jesus being the CEO at your place of work, and his priority is to create Heaven on Earth. When we see our work aligned with God’s desires, we understand how we are a part of his heaven-on-earth agenda.

Is there a difference between vocation, career and job?

Are some jobs (like a bus driver or an accountant) just as important in God’s eyes as a missionary or pastor?

First, work is not defined by a paycheck.  Work is using your abilities, skills, life experiences for Kingdom purposes. Vocation is from the Latin verb,vocare, meaning to call.  Our primary call is to embrace the gospel of Jesus and follow him, leaning into the power of the Holy Spirit, as a disciple.  Our work is transformed when we acknowledge it is an expression of this primary vocation.  
The word career originates from the medieval Latin noun carraria, which refers to a road--a career path.  A career usually is associated with a certain occupation, such as an attorney, or salesman.  A job is one’s employment, usually defined by a specific job description.
When followers of Christ are clear about the over-arching impact of their vocation, career path and job, they should be motivated to do their work with excellence, in a distinctively Christian manner, with a profound impact on community and the world culture.
Any work that is moral is pleasing to God.  In the Roman and Greek culture, as well in the pre-medieval era, work was viewed as less important than contemplation.  From this evolved an unbiblical distinction between the secular and the spiritual that, unfortunately, still exists today.  The Reformation not only focused on salvation through grace alone, but also emphasized that all work is potentially ministry if we use our talents, skills and abilities to demonstrate our love of God, to others, for His glory.
When we live out a life of excellence through our work, our witness takes on a whole new autheticity.  Those who are cynical about Christians, because they observe behavor at work not in alighnment with faith, will understand the meaning of St. Francis of Assisi when he said, "Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.”

There is a lot of brokeness in the world.  How does that show up in people’s work?

Why faith and work ministry now?

On one end of the continuum, work is viewed simply a means to an end.  It is the price paid for the weekend and recreation (TGIF--Thank God It’s Friday). Or work becomes simply the means to finance needs and desires. On the other end of the continuum, work becomes an idol.  It can be the place we devote unhealthy amounts of time. As an idol it provides a sense of power, prestige, self-fulfillment and personal accomplishment.

We were made to work, but not for work.  We were made for God.  But because the world is broken, work environments can be broken places too--where profits come before people, where greed prevails, where the environment becomes poisoned, and people live in bondage.
Most agree that over the past 50 years the church’s influence on American culture has diminished greatly.  If Christians lean into the theology of work, they will have a profound affect on the culture around them.  For Chattanooga and all the nation, we desperately need to experience the impact of the gospel integrated with the workplace. This is the time to equip, connect and mobilize those in our churches to glorify God and love their neighbors in all aspects of life, including work, where so much of life is lived.  This will help our city flourish.

Opportunities

Do you desire to train your church members, company employees, or your small group on how the Christian faith informs the work we do each week? Chattanooga Faith + Work + Culture provides a 4 session course that covers the main principles and teachings of a theology for work. 
Seminary trained professors and seasoned Christian business executives will lead your group through a look at what the Bible says about our “9 to 5” work. The course is perfect for a Sunday School class, Wednesday night church gathering, or company professional development training. 

Chattanooga Faith, Work, & Culture

Our vision is to transform Chattanooga by restoring the connections between faith, work, and community. Partnering with like-minded leaders, business people, pastors and churches, we will help working adults understand how their callings and vocations fit into God’s kingdom purposes.
Using contemporary educational methods and communications tools, and supported by effective coaching and consulting, we will help people of faith find new freedom and focus that will bless everyone around them, and help the city to flourish.  

L. Clark Taylor, Jr. PHD

Clark had a four decade career in healthcare administration, including serving as the CEO for Memorial Healthcare System and Hospice of Chattanooga. He was ordained as a Deacon in the United Methodist Church. He co-founded what is now the nonprofit, Chattanooga + Faith + Work + Culture, equipping Christians to more fully live God’s intention for our work. 

ctaylor@fcumc.org