Wednesday, September 23, 2009

After Sunday: what connection between church and work?

The very excellent After Sunday project has published the results of a survey they did at Greenbelt last month on how well churches equip their members for the world of work. Here's a couple of the charts

3. 'The church values me more for the work I do inside the church than for what I do in my daily work'

9. 'My church feels like another thing to fit in to a life, full of parts competing for my attention'
Lots of food for thought here, both for church members and church leaders/teachers. Lots of resources and helpful things on the After Sunday site, including this quote, which I like:

All of life is spiritual, for all is part of God's creation. There is no division between sacred and secular, work and worship, religion and politics. Spirituality is not apart from our daily lives, it is our daily lives. But it is a life with a cutting edge not avoiding the pain or fear. Alan Ecclestone


  1. No surprises here... We need to try and understand from everyone what are the things in our common life that inspire and equip them, and what things, er, don’t. All info on that greatly welcomed, although I'm sure we could all take some reasonable guesses.

  2. Thanks for the post about the survey, as you say lots of food for thought. A couple of years ago I was involved in producing a resource pack for Chelmsford Diocese called Christians in the Workplace, taking a broad non-prescriptive view of what being a Christian at work can mean and exploring ethics, spirituality, transformation and mission amongst other themes. Here's the link:

    My take on this is that there are good resources available but one of the biggest challenges is getting clergy to see this as a high priority issue amongst all the internal business of being church, which very much fits with the first of the charts.

  3. Having interviewed hundreds of people about spirit and work over the last 19 years, I'm not surprised but saddened by this survey -- especially since all faiths are loaded with wisdom for spirit and work. For Christianity, my favorites include the work of Brother Lawrence (practicing the presence of God in all ordinary tasks such as sweeping the floor)and the basic Dominican concept that to work is to pray and vice versa. In Britain, there's a powerful spirit and work movement, including the outstanding book by Sue Howard and Rev. David Welbourn, "The Spirit of Work Phenomenon."

    David came to explore the status of spirit and work here in the San Francisco, CA bay area, which became the focus of his sabbatical and led to that book. Among the many people he met with were Rev. Whitney Roberson of Grace Cathedral, who has create a phenomenal book on spirit and work based on the wisdom of all faiths and creating dialogue on these practical subjects.

    One of the greatest wisdoms of the spirit and work movement is that when spirit comes to work, it becomes more clear what's essential and what is not. That makes it easier to end the workday with energy for life, family AND church activities.

    I've been blessed to interview world religions scholar Huston Smith about the wisdom of all faiths for work and to write about how to bring spirit to work respectfully. It's so easy when the basic attitude is respect.

    Please, clergy, explore this issue! The work world needs so much more integrity. Parents, workers and others need spiritual wisdom to do their work with integrity, purpose and joy. As you do so, one book I highly recommend about the current split between faith and work: "Church on Sunday, Work on Monday."

    Thanks and blessings for this wonderful and necessary post.
    Pat McHenry Sullivan, co-founder, Spirit and Work Resource Center (California); author of Work with Meaning, Work with Joy: Bringing Your Spirit to Any Job

  4. The information in the bar charts is extremely revealing. Could you give me more information about who conducted the study, size of the group surveyed, etc.? I am in the process of preparing a workshop for pastors in the U.S. on equipping believers to serve Christ in their daily work. I'd like to be able to cite this study.

  5. Larry - if you click on the 2nd link in the first line, it takes you to the rest of the survey. It was done on around 200 people who visited the 'After Sunday' stand at the Greenbelt festival last month. There's a similar study done on folk who went to Spring Harvest, which asks some slightly different questions, but still highlights the gap between Sunday and Monday is probably the best place to start.