At Work On Purpose is an organization that we, at City Gospel Movements, have really admired. They began in 2003 as a small group of Christ followers meeting together about work as worship. Since then, they have been extremely blessed by God to see their number of participants grow from dozens to thousands of “everyday working Christians” at their home base in Cincinnati, Ohio. The number continues to grow as they share best practices and help inspire marketplace leaders all around the world.
Their focus at At Work on Purpose (AWOP) is to steward an innovative citywide marketplace ministry model that mobilizes the Church at work across church homes, denominations, zip codes and ministries. Amy L. Sherman tells the development of At Work On Purpose as well as the impacts of marketplace ministries today. Read a summary below or read the whole article.
More than Cubicle Evangelism
Chuck Proudfit is filling a gap in marketplace ministries. Before, they weren’t hitting on all 4 E’s: Evangelism, Ethics, Enrichment and Experience. At Work On Purpose, has had a more holistic approach that allows them to “mobilize marketplace leaders for city transformation.” They do this through monthly round tables where they equip and encourage leaders to initiate positive change in their work environment that hopefully overflow to areas of impact outside of their workplace.
One example of this is during the 2008 Recession, members of At Work On Purpose helped to establish a network of multiple support groups for those being laid off. These groups were designed to be in multiple locations so everyone had access. They were facilitated by Christian entrepreneurs with the purpose for support, but also to help connect people into job opportunities.
‘Today AWOP’s leaders actively encourage geographically based teams to bring together marketplace leaders, who in turn develop their own ideas for bringing health to their communities. “To me,” Proudfit says, “this is right out of what the apostles did in Acts 4. They would find out what the needs were and distribute resources.”
AWOP approach also brings reconciliation in Cincinnati, where they focus on bridging the divide between denominations, but race as well. They wanted to make sure their network was reflecting the demographics of the city to see real transformation. In addition, they have bible study and prayer groups to help build these relationships with like-minded business-people.
AWOP is not the only organization incorporating a holistic approach. There are many other great resources that Sherman highlights such as Lee Truax and the Christian Business Men’s Connection that facilitate chapters in multiple states and countries. Ron Henry who helps accelerate a coalition of 18 workplace ministries in Orange County, California. In addition, Eric Welch, leads and furthers informal networks of 20 large marketplace ministries through the Institute for Faith, Works and Economics.
Despite these great efforts, Proudfit, is very humble to admit that even with 5,000 people involved involved with AWOP in Cincinnati, they still have a long way to go with unemployment, reconciliation and city impact. However, they recognize they cannot do it without the effort of collaboration.
“The new marketplace ministries . . . have a distinctly kingdom mindset. With the position of influence comes great responsibility, of being ‘a priest of your business.”‘
Bringing work back to church
One essential collaboration is work and church. Sherman shares the development of new initiatives to help pastors better understand the faith and work integration. This focus will allow those in the marketplace to be encouraged and catalyzed to use their “entrepreneurial gifts.”
The Church not affirming marketplace vocations results in laypeople not being inspired. Thus, they “feel like they are doing something ‘less than’ for God’s kingdom in their workplaces, as compared to preachers and missionaries.” This is not true as we have seen the impact AWOP has created through ministering to people in the marketplace.
Read more at The Cutting Edge of Marketplace Ministry.
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