Transforming the Worldwide Workforce
A few years ago, there were said to be 50,000 Christian workplace groups in the USA. It is not known of course how many of those CWGs were outward-looking in the way advocated by TWUK. Even, so it may be that in UK we have been a little off the pace up to the present time in growing CWGs. But with 350+ CWGs now known to us, we have sufficient evidence that there are thousands of workplaces in UK that could and most likely should have a CWG – and that it can be done. I remember arriving for a retreat that our CWG had arranged in the midlands. As I entered the meeting room, it felt like walking into the strong presence of God, a presence that stayed with us throughout the weekend until the last. I remember being impacted then as I am now, that God is seriously enjoying and committed to Christianity in the workplace. So, we reach for the vision and seek those who will raise their sights to a great harvest.
This leads me to reflect on the possible effect over time if the vision were fulfilled.
As you will know, in recent decades the world has experienced diverse and impressive moves of God in South America, South Korea, China and North America. Christian gatherings numbering one million or more have occurred in Africa. Churches are proliferating in northern India. But there are those who have expressed faith that the next great move of God will be through the workplace. Some have even said that the impact through the workplace will be greater than anything since the reformation. That means world-wide and very long lasting.
But are there grounds for such prophetic soundings or is it rather speculative thinking? In the UK scene, we know that large numbers of young and sometimes older adults have only basic knowledge of Christianity, if any, as schools take a more secular and inter-faith stance. There remains of course a highly active and vibrant Christian force in the land with exemplary outreach and witness in varied ways. The witness is, however, in many cases short term and often to a temporary and changing audience.
In contrast, what we see in the workplace is the potential for a relatively stable and ongoing Christian influence on a relatively stable and ongoing workforce, and that by colleagues, perhaps of their own trade or profession, who are likely to be reasonably well known and therefore, in a sense, accountable. If we extrapolate the present hundreds of CWGs to many thousands, we see a substantial portion of the population at least within arm’s length of the Kingdom of God, and near enough to glimpse something highly desirable. May God be pleased to command the blessing!
For in the nature of Christian workplace groups, drawing as they do from a wide range of Christian faith streams, there is the potential for an unprecedented kingdom of God quality dimension. I recently listened to a professional male voice choir from Kiev. The sounds they created often came from surprising combinations of apparently discordant notes. Rightly handled though, admittedly by some highly gifted and polished voices, and with ears ultimately sensitive, they provided soft, delicious, teasing resonances of exceptional beauty. In a similar fashion, the differences between us in CWGs due to our various faith streams, rightly handled, contain the genius of heavenly harmonies not yet sounded by groups of those like-minded. That is of course, a way of saying that when people see the miracle of Christians who love one another – discordant though our interactions could easily be – everyone will know that we belong to Someone. That’s enough to stir even the most discerning audience: the fragrance of Christ will always attract big time.
I know that some scriptures are hard to understand – not least St Paul – but I rather think God likes simplicity. In CWGs there is necessarily a stripping away of fine points of doctrine and theology. The differences between believers I have come close to in a CWG relationship are greater than I care to admit. But it has been humbling to realise that those I might have thought most ‘wrong’ are equally embraced by the One that matters. The strong presence of God I mentioned above was given to us all. Harbouring petty pride over ‘our way’ I fear ensures those others will ‘go marching in’ ahead of us. Without wanting for a moment to take anything away from the value and importance of discovering deep truth, what the world needs as a herald of pan-national witness and revival is clarity. CWGs can only realistically have one simple key: the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Anyone who is willing to stand with us at the cross, however fleetingly, however faintly, with whatever mixed motives, is surely welcome. Revival in the sense of widespread conversions in the community may not always be a slam bang encounter with immediate and permanent change as on the day of Pentecost, but a more indirect and gradual process drawing from other believers. Given high numbers of CWGs, and divine ignition, Holy Spirit fire could engulf the nation, with each new believer gathering family, friends and neighbours to invade churches for their broader span of input.
The major reason though why a world-changing, long lasting Christian renewal would come through CWGs is Jesus’ prayer for the unity of believers. In His prayer (John 17), He prayed for his followers that ‘they might be one even as We are One.’ To my mind, that prayer has to be answered someday. Yet now believers are divided into countless streams – sometimes factions. It is hard to see any realistic way that Christians across the nation – maybe across the nations even - could come together again. But through the workplace there is perhaps a way: may your kingdom come!
Ultimately, God decides both means and timing for His blessings. Some folks are called to success and others to hardship, some to lean times, sowing and suffering and some to harvest. We don’t often get to choose. Wider vision though will help us serve our given season. God may choose at His own desire how to save the people and glorify the Son. But a CWG is uniquely placed to view the diversity of believers and the harvest fields, and see them in new ways as God sees them - brilliantissimo!