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Emerging Trend – Is God at Work in Corporate America?

Are you interested in the latest trends and behaviors in American business? If so, you might find this particular subject of interest. It involves the spiritual “revival” taking place across the nation right now. Hundreds of large US corporations now have chaplains on their payrolls, an emerging trend as caring employers strive to meet the needs of personnel desiring to have access to spiritual direction whenever it’s needed.

A Wall Street Journal survey revealed a 50% dissatisfaction rate among executives and 80% dissatisfaction rate among general workplace population. A University of Michigan research study revealed that more people turn to the clergy than to any other profession whenever they need help. According to another study, released by the Harvard Business School, for every dollar spent incorporating some type of Spiritual Enrichment Program into an organization’s Employee Assistance Program yields a $4 return in increased loyalty, productivity and happier employees.

Business-oriented publications have taken notice as well:

“… a mostly unorganized mass of believers–a counterculture bubbling up all over corporate America–who want to bridge the traditional divide between spirituality and work. Historically, such folk operated below the radar, on their own or in small workplace groups where they prayed or studied the Bible. But now they are getting organized and going public to agitate for change.” – Fortune Magazine, July 16, 2001

“People who want to mix God and business are rebels on several fronts. They reject the centuries-old American conviction that spirituality is a private matter. They challenge religious thinkers who disdain business as an inherently impure pursuit. They disagree with business people who say that religion is unavoidably divisive. – Fortune Magazine, July 16, 2001

“Today, a spiritual revival is sweeping across Corporate America as people of all stripes are mixing mysticism into their management, importing into office corridors the lessons usually dolled out in churches, temples, and mosques. Gone is the old taboo against talking about God at work. – BusinessWeek Magazine, November 1999

BIBLICAL PRECEDENTS

From Heaven’s vantage point, ministry in the workplace just makes sense. Why? It’s where we spend a major portion of our lives. As spirit-beings enduring this earthly experience, we cannot separate the two and expect to employ happy, productive employees.

Jesus knew this, of course. In the New Testament, of His 132 public appearances, 122 were in the marketplace. Of His parables, 45 had a workplace context. Of the 40 divine interventions recorded in the Book of Acts, 39 took place in the marketplace. Jesus spent his adult life as a carpenter, taking orders, producing and delivering a product. He did so until age 30 before he went into His preaching ministry in the workplace. To assist Him, Jesus called 12 workplace individuals – not clergymen – to build His church.

Work IS Worship. In fact, the Hebrew word “Avodah” is root for word from which we get BOTH the words work and worship. Work in its different forms is mentioned more than 800 times in the Bible, more than all the words used to express worship, music, praise, and singing combined.

QUOTES OF NOTE BY CHRISTIAN LEADERS

“The spiritual manifests itself in a life which knows no division into sacred and secular.” -Oswald Chambers

“Spirituality in the workplace is exploding.” – Laura Nash, Business Ethicist, Harvard University

“I believe one of the next great moves of God is going to be through the believers in the workplace”. -Dr. Billy Graham.

“God has begun an evangelism movement in the workplace that has the potential to transform our society as we know it”. -Franklin Graham

“God is marshalling his people in the workplace as never before in history. God is up to something. The next spiritual awakening could take place in the marketplace.” –Henry Blackaby

“Workplace ministry will be one of the core future innovations in church ministry.” -George Barna, Boiling Point, Regal Publishing

“Our surveys reveal that 90-97% of Christians have never heard a sermon relating biblical principles to their work life.” -Doug Sherman, author, Your Work Matters to God.

“The church in the workplace is the purest form of the body of Christ today due to its diversity. Workplace believers are less prone to denominational differences because they have a common goal of representing Christ in their workplaces. The movement will break down denominational barriers that have been held in the past.” -Os Hillman, International Coalition of Workplace Ministries

“Indeed, as with first-century Christianity, it all begins in the marketplace, where the disciples of Jesus daily rub shoulders with the lost.” – Bill McCartney, Promise Keepers, Anointed for Business, Reqal Publishing

“In today’s global community, the greatest channel of distribution for ‘salt and light’ is the business community… the marketplace.” – Bill Pollard, Chairman, ServiceMaster

AN OVERVIEW OF THE FAITH AT WORK MOVEMENT

Many are referring to this workplace phenomenon as the “Faith at Work Movement.” The secular media was among the first to recognize its impact.

In November 1999, Business Week reported:

“Historically, such folk operated below the radar, on their own or in small workplace groups where they prayed or studied the Bible. But now they are getting organized and going public to agitate for change. People who want to mix God and business are rebels on several fronts. They reject the centuries-old American conviction that spirituality is a private matter. They challenge religious thinkers who disdain business as an inherently impure pursuit. They disagree with business people who say that religion is unavoidably divisive.”

In 2004 and 2005, major secular media also did stories on the trend. On October 31, 2004, the New York Times Magazine featured a cover story on Christianity in the workplace entitled “With God at Our Desks.” The article stated:

“The idea is that Christians have for too long practiced their faith on Sundays and left it behind during the workweek, and that there is a moral vacuum in the modern workplace, which leads to backstabbing careerism, empty routines for employees and CEO’s who push for profits at the expense of society, the environment and their fellow human beings.” -Russell Shorto, “With God at Our Desks,” New York Times Magazine, October 31, 2004, p. 42.

Subsequent features have appeared in the London Times, Boston Globe, CBS Morning News, the BBC, Atlanta Journal, CNN, National Public Radio, CBN’s 700 Club, Los Angeles Times, and the Charlotte Observer, to name a few. On March 31, 2005, CNBC aired a one-hour story on faith at work. The international media has also taken note with stories or features appearing in major media in Hong Kong, Germany, England and France.

HOW DOES A BUSINESS GET STARTED?

OK, so you’ve heard the reports and you agree that there is a definite “need” within your own organization.

Now what?

As many can attest – and as the armed forces have known for generations – a chaplain could be exactly what your staff is needing. Contrary to many presumptions, having a spiritual resource available to your team is NOT a threat to your workplace environment. A Workplace Chaplain won’t be praying at the water cooler or preaching in the break room. In fact, whenever needed, a Workplace Chaplain will try and find Buddhists, Rabbis, and other spiritual leaders for those employees who would feel more comfortable with them, or stand by them as they seek more specialized help such a drug or alcohol treatment. Workplace Chaplains serve in every situation and serve employees with or without a religious background. They are available to deliver death or injury messages to family members after accidents, provide pastoral counseling, perform funerals and weddings, talk to employees about work place issues, make hospital and jail visits.

When a Workplace Chaplain contracts with a secular company, the employer informs workers that they can call on him whenever needed, but that they are under no obligation to do so. The presence of a minister is not meant to set a religious tone to the workplace. Ministers pay weekly visits to their designated workplaces, getting acquainted, checking in and chatting with willing employees. One Workplace Chaplain said, “As a Workplace Chaplain, one day you’ll be talking to a guy about last night’s game, but the next day they might seek me out to talk about his wife leaving or his cousin in the hospital.” He says that the trust built makes workers feel comfortable in confiding problems, and that unexpected life events often drive workers to seek out his services. “They do it by email and Instant Message all the time. I think they’re most comfortable that way AND they can remain anoymous.”

Workplace believe that companies hire them because they believe it increases productivity to provide support to employees who need it, and cuts down on workplace discord. Rather than being a part of management or perceived as a co-worker who might gossip with other employees, the Chaplain is someone neutral who can listen to employees’ concerns, with the assurance of confidentiality. Layoffs, downsizing and the recent publicized instances of workplace violence have contributed to increased stress in the workplace in recent years and business owners are keen to the need for this kind of spititual assistance in the workplace.

WHAT WILL A WORKPLACE CHAPLAIN COST?

The cost of these services varies with the size of a company but the truth is, there’s probably nobody on your payroll whose presence will make such an impact on your bottom line. One key to the success of this type of ministry is that an employer must allow time for relationships to be established. A chaplain’s fee is generally tax-deductible as a Consulting fee and will vary from business to business. In today’s workplace environment, one thing is certain: it would appear that it’s more expensive to an organization NOT to have a Chaplain on board.
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Fri, June 18 2010 » Business

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