Weaving the message of Jesus into our words and work:

Christians at the Office




Course Description (original series, 1999):


"This course is designed for the active Christian who spends most of the workweek within an office setting. It is designed to develop the skills and comfort level for sharing--in gracious, gentle, and non-offensive ways--the precious story of the love of God in Jesus. This is a practical course, involving homework, occasional low-level role playing, and writing assignments. Topics will include how this is supposed to work, the impact of lifestyle and some challenges for the Christian, creating situations in which sharing is comfortable, appreciated, and warm, turning good works into good words, finding opportunities, how to not sound 'religious' when you share, developing YOUR STORY, dealing with problems and objections, what to do when they say "YES" or "NO" to you. The emphasis is on developing your own personal style of sharing your experience of the good-hearted God with others, in a way that generates respect from your co-workers and honors the gentle and gracious Lord."





I. Introduction


Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  6 Let your conversation be always full of grace...(Col 4.5f)



Joe was moved by the sermon at the church service on Sunday, on 'winning the Lost'. He decided that he would do everything in his power to "get the gospel out" to all his co-workers at ZYW Technologies Inc. On Monday, he dressed in his normal middle-management suit and tie, loaded up into his compact car, and drove the 45 miles to work. But once there, his daily routine changed--for the 'sake of the lost'. For over the weekend, Joe had made a sandwich board to wear over his suit as he walked it the office. He knew that only doomsayers and weirdo's wore this, but he was prepared to be a 'fool for Christ' from now on. On one side of the sandwich board (the front side) was printed John 3.16, and "Ask Jesus in TODAY!" on the bottom, and on the back was a more forceful "Repent or Perish!" followed by a couple of bible verses on the final judgment. So, Joe got out of his car, put the sandwich board on over his head, grabbed his briefcase and entered the building from the front lobby (so maybe some visitors might see and get saved too!). To make sure that everyone saw this, Joe had arrived early, so that he had ample time to walk up and down each aisle of cubby-holes (instead of his normal straight route from the employee entrance to his cubicle). Once at his desk, he removed the sandwich board and went to work. But at lunch, he donned it again and wore it to the company cafeteria during the lunch break. He sat by himself and prayed audibly (but not too loudly) for everybody that walked past him as he ate, praying that they would read the sign, and believe in Jesus. He repeated the process as he left the office for home that afternoon, feeling quite good that he had proclaimed the gospel to his co-workers, and firming his resolve to do so daily until revival broke out throughout all ZYW Technologies Inc.


Joan had just come back from a women's breakfast, in which a missionary from overseas had presented amazing stories of people responding to God's love in the mission field. She decided to make a fresh commitment to witnessing to others (she had witnessed three times back in college, with the little pamphlets), and she decided to 'claim' Hiya-Tek Insurance company for Jesus. HTI had some 500 employees at Headquarters (where Joan worked), and she felt committed to confronting ALL of them with the claims of Christ consistently and persistently (in love, of course). Joan decided to use modern means to reach all the people of HTI, and so every morning at work she did two things. First, she did a "copy ALL" email--to ALL employees--explaining how Jesus died on the Cross for the wickedness of sinful people, and that by believing in Jesus as Lord and Savior, everyone in the building could go to heaven when they died. She even had a few bible quotes from the King James Version in the email, to harness the power of the Word of God in giving new birth to the people who read the email...Then, she used her second wave of daily attack: she sent a copy of a gospel tract (from the local Christian bookstore) in the interoffice mail to every employee in the company (including those without access to email--just to be sure there were no 'unreached peoples' there at HTI). She varied the tracts month by month, to accommodate different reading levels. This took a long time of course, so she stayed late every day to make sure she got her work done. But at the end of the day, she went home confident that the seed had been sown, and that the gospel was getting out to her mission field. [She is praying about expanding the reach by leaving evangelistic voicemails for each employee every night.]



II. Goal and Method



A. Goal


To show them the good heart of God, as seen in the work of Christ in history and in our lives, and to encourage them to approach that God, so that God will do His saving work through their interaction. [He does the 'saving'--not us!]


This course is about relationship evangelism--not broadcast evangelism (even though both are important).




B. Method



1. How this is SUPPOSED to work...


"You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts. (2 Cor 3.2)


"Do everything without complaining or arguing,  15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe  16 as you hold out the word of life (Philp 2.14ff)


"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matt 5.16)


We simply open our life and experience up to others...




2. Everything must be real to you and your life (or from trusted reference life)!


"The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart. (Luke 6.45)


Do YOU have examples of :


a. unambiguously answered prayer


b. unambiguous providential experiences


c. answered questions (you had before becoming a believer?)


d. crises in which His presence was felt, sensed, and made a difference to your emotional health





3. "All things to all men" / Pick your battles


 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. 20 And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law, though not being myself under the Law, that I might win those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. (1 Cor 9.19)


"Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved. (1 Cor 10.32)





4. an open life -- let them see your doubts and struggles and wins



a. The model of Jesus


Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. 38 Then He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me." (Matt 26.36)



Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour. (Jn 12.27)



b. The model of Paul


Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. (Philp 2.28)


For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you. (2 Cor 2.4)


For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within.  6 But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus,  7 and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever. (2 Cor 7.5ff)



c. The model of the Psalms!



5. caring, not necessarily "best buddies"


For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.  4 They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. (1 Peter 4.3ff)


Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered,  25 or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared. 


The Son of Man has come eating and drinking; and you say, 'Behold, a gluttonous man, and a drunkard, a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners!' (Luke 7.34) with  "And it came about that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax-gatherers and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were  many of them, and they were following Him. 16 And when the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax-gatherers, they began  saying to His disciples, "Why is He eating and drinking with tax-gatherers and sinners?"" (Mark 2.15ff)



6.  Opportunities:


a. felt needs (e.g., anxiety, discouragement, disillusionment, alienation)


b. their current crises (e.g., troubles at home, illness, finances)


c. reflecting on their past crises (in conversation):

"So what's the most life-changing experience you have had?... How did it affect the way you see life or family or God?"


d. YOUR current crises (from your current experience of difficulty)



7. not a conspiracy!


a. Don't make it look like a setup or trap! (e.g., bibles with their names already engraved on them!)


b. This is NOT an 'evangelistic campaign'


c. This needs to be an integral part of who we are, not an 'add on' to our normal lives (remember, it's simply opening our lives up to others...)



8. 'lawfully, decently, and in order' -- in the context of the social group 'rules'


a. the rules of appropriateness (ex: wearing a sandwich board to the cafeteria?! Gospel Tracts on the tops of the toilets?! shouting on a subway?!)


b. Respect: you are a 'guest of someone'


c. the "offense of the messenger" and the "offense of the REALLY cross"!


d. remember, WISDOM is peace-loving


e. When ordered by the boss to 'cease and desist'...Act 4.16ff issues:


“What shall we do with these men? For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through them is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 “But in order that it may not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to any man in this name.” 18 And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; 20 for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard.”



- First, make DEAD SURE you are NOT being pushy, abrasive, inappropriate!


-Second, don't appeal to FREE SPEECH rights!


-Depending on your type of interaction/relationship with the Boss:


- "Boss, you KNOW I never push anything on anybody--esp. my personal views of life!!...why would you think I would do this?"


- "Boss, you know as well as I do that I don't 'try to push my religion' on people here--good grief! If somebody asks me what I think and believe about politics, family life, or God, I give them a simple and honest answer. What am I supposed to do, tell them 'Sorry, the boss won't let me answer you about that?'...


- "Boss, I don't understand--I need you to help me on this. If you and I were having a private lunch, and I asked you what you believed about morality in politics, how would you answer me?...If I asked you about what were your personal priorities in life, how would you answer me?...If I asked you what your personal views about God and religion were, how would you answer me?...Then how is that different from what I am doing here, when someone asks me similar questions?..."


- "Boss, there's something odd about this request...That pushy-stuff is not my style AT ALL--you know that. So, how many people are 'complaining' about me to you?... Just one?! Why do you think its just him/her? Is he overly sensitive or something?...I can certainly do my best to avoid any non-business conversation around that person, but I don't think it's the least bit inappropriate to discuss the subject briefly and carefully with other associates that bring it up."



9. Wisdom and gentleness...


Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  6 Let your conversation be always full of grace...(Col 4.5f)


But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. (Jas 3.17)