The Big Juggle - Balancing Work & Church

It’s not uncommon to hear Christians speak about a gap in their lives. The gap between Sunday and Monday. The gap between work and church.

It’s a gap that Kara Martin, Associate Dean of the Ridley Marketplace Institute, spends much of her week thinking about how we might close. And it was this gap that we considered in some detail at our second Life @ Work breakfast for 2015.

Kara began her working life as a TV journalist. However it wasn’t long before the role threw several ethical conundrums her way. But when it came to finding answers oftentimes she found little support from her local church. Either they didn’t have answers to the questions that she was asking about her work, or they didn’t think that it really mattered. Church on Sunday was where the action was, not Monday to Friday, was the impression Kara got.

Kara says life felt like a pie, divided up into many segments. And very often it seemed difficult to find enough time to do the “church” part of the pie. “There wasn’t quite enough pie to go around”.

But as Kara explained, the solution that the Bible outlines is not to think about life as a pie, with one slice of it belonging to God or our church. Rather He wants all of our time, all of the pie. We are to love Him with all our heart, not part of it (Matthew 22:37). All of life is to be lived in the worship and service of Him (Romans 12:1-2). “If we give God everything, then we will know what to focus our time on”. Our work is part of our worship. To use Kara’s word, it is our “workship”.

Understanding this truth paves the way to closing the gap between Sunday and Monday and no longer seeing church and work in competition with each other. Rather our work becomes a large part of our worship of God “in the world” during the week. Then on Sundays the local church seeks to support and prepare Christians for this.

Kara then shared a number of personal stories of people who have sought to work with their local church to close the gap between Sunday and Monday. For example, Rowan who purchased a fruit and vegetable business only to discover numerous unethical practices. But instead of turning a blind eye to it, he invited his pastor into his workplace to help understand the issues that he was facing and join him in praying for his new business. His pastor provided a wonderful support, helping him consider the ethical issues from a Christian perspective. Slowly over time Rowan turned his new business around so that his staff and suppliers were being treated fairly.

Then there is Iris, who enlisted the help of church members to run her work Christmas party. A group came along and performed Christmas carols, and then served food and drinks to Iris’ colleagues. When those colleagues asked the church members why they were doing this, they responded that they cared about Iris and her workplace. A powerful Christian witness!

Kara closed the morning with an encouragement for us to think creatively about how we might “make the church visible in the workplace”. A simple starting point might be inviting our pastor to visit us in our workplaces to find out more about what we do, and invite them to pray for us. It’s a small step, but may have big implications for closing the gap between Sunday and Monday.