George Barna reveal in a survey in 2009 that only 19 percent of Christians hold a biblical worldview and that less than 4 percent of those in their 20s hold a biblical worldview. Are we losing the culture battle? Can the church any longer impact the culture today, given such statistics that reveal the state of the church?
The church is often referred to as an institution instead of a people who love and serve society for the purpose of influencing culture. We’ve reduced the church to a place where we go on Sunday instead of a people that is the church spread throughout the marketplace daily. People either worship in spirit and truth, or they settle for religious ritual on the church mountain.
Dr. Henry Blackaby sees a vacuum in the area of the local church when it comes to equipping men and women in their work-life callings. Blackaby speaks to many church leaders every year about equipping those in the workplace. He is personally equipping leaders in the marketplace because he sees this as the only place we will see societal change. In an interview I did with Henry Blackaby, he offered some helpful comments.
“If someone were to ask me right now where do I sense the greatest potential for revival,” he said, “I’d say in corporate America.”
Blackaby relates to about 170 CEOs of Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies, most of whom have read his book Experiencing God. After reading the book, all of them have requested a conference call with Blackaby to discuss their responses to the book. He has scheduled about 10 different conference calls, with eight to 10 of them on each call at one time.
What is the major concern of these CEOs?
Blackaby says, “They are asking me, ‘How do we experience God in corporate America?’” He finds it much, much easier to guide corporate America than to guide the church community into fresh, new experiences with God. Although these CEOs make huge decisions and are personally connected to government leaders and the president’s cabinet, they ask, “How can we use our lives?” Some of them have told him, “We’re convinced that the way to control TV is to make it family friendly, but this must be done through sponsorship.”
So the executives said, “We are not going to sponsor any programming that is going to destroy our moral fiber as a nation.”
A lot of these changes they are willing to make in philosophy have come out of their studying Experiencing God. Blackaby told me, “One of the men in our group is a multibillionaire who already had a deep commitment to have a controlling interest in all the theaters in America, and he controls one major theater chain. He desires to help bring family-friendly movies in the theatres in America.”
Blackaby stressed that these executives want to affect the values system of corporate America.
I asked Dr. Blackaby why the local church has been so ineffective at equipping men and women in the workplace.
“We need spiritual leaders to guide them," he said. "I find very few spiritual leaders understand the role of the marketplace in the mind of God. I hear leaders speak, and they never address that issue. It is as if they are totally oblivious to the need to equip these leaders. When I preach on this and why they need to equip leaders in the marketplace, I get a tremendous response.
"If the churches ever caught the ways of God toward the marketplace, everything would be different. Right now they are telling marketplace people to come and help them build their church. They have it backward. They are supposed to be equipping them for their role in the marketplace. When I tell them that, the lights come on. Many pastors repent when they realize they have it backward. Churches totally turn around when they change their focus.”
There is no other institution in the world that has leaders in the seven cultural mountains gather weekly in one place together as they do in the local church. Pastors miss a wonderful opportunity if they do not use that opportunity to equip men and women in the workplace for cultural transformation through their work life callings.
The Local Church as an Equipping Center
In random surveys among people and groups over the last 15 years of working in the faith and work arena, I have asked this question: “How many of you have been intentionally trained at your local church to apply biblical faith in your work life? That means you have been in a Bible study, heard a sermon series or had a training course on applying biblical faith at work.”
The percentage of hands that go up is consistent—5 to 10 percent. The job to make this shift among church members and church leaders is still enormous. Thankfully, this is changing.
One study conducted several years ago by the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity found that 47 percent of people surveyed say that the preaching and teaching they receive is irrelevant to their daily lives. Given these statistics, it is no wonder the average Christian has had no spiritual impact on their workplace and has been unable to integrate their faith life into their work life. Relevance is the key word here. The average church member finds no relevance in their church experience and what they are taught about their daily work life. Dr. Eddie Gibbs, a Fuller Seminary professor, once made the following amazing statement in one of our conferences: “I teach students who spend $40,000 to learn a language no one understands.”
This is the first of a three-part series. The preceding was excerpted from the book, Change Agent: Engaging your passion to the one that makes a difference by Os Hillman.
Os Hillman is an international author and speaker on faith and work. He writes a free daily email devotional, TGIF: Today God Is First, that is subscribed to by 200,000 people worldwide each day. www.TodayGodIsFirst.com