In a past life as a salesman for NFIB, my job was to talk to small business owners about the problems that they were facing. Inevitably, we often would start talking about challenges at home as well – as the line between home and small business is often very blurred. Small business owners are lone rangers by nature – but this loneliness saddened me.
It also infuriated me, as the vast majority of these businesses were owned by Christians. I could see pictures on their office walls of church functions, I could tell they were believers from the way they talked, and I usually saw a Bible somewhere on their desk. What raised my hackles is that as I talked to these hard working men and women, it dawned on me that never had anyone from their church visited them at work. The one place that defines an entrepreneur – their business – is the one place that the church never seemed to want to go.
If the church is going to have an impact – be it at the local or national level – we need to get out of our walls and meet people where they are working. The reason why military chaplains are so effective – and I served as one – is they are going through the same things that their flock is going through. Hospital chaplains do the same – visiting the sick and their family members where they are hurting the most. But the local church is nowhere present – expecting people to come to Sunday worship, Bible studies, small groups, and youth programs – but never going to them.
As humans, we are “hard-wired” to work. God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden to till it, to care for it – in short, to work. Work, in many ways, defines who we are. Men – more so than women – will usually respond to the question “Who are you” with “I am steel worker”. Small business owners – be they male or female – are even more apt to define themselves by their work. Of course we are much more than what we do – we are after all Children of God, as Christians heirs to the Kingdom of Grace. But we cannot dismiss the simple fact that we also see ourselves by what we do.
Jesus did say “Come to me” (Matt 11:28), but He also said to His disciples “Go and make disciples…” (Math 28:19) The church – her pastors, elders, officers – needs to go out to where people are. Meet them at work, at the office, on the floor of the factory, out in the hot sun. The church needs to see how her members sweat away the day – whether they are straining their back or worried about how to make payroll. Only when the church understands the very basic cares and triumphs of her members can she then go about helping them lead transformed lives in the love and grace of Jesus Christ.