When I was a young working professional, my college pastor (whose name rhymes with "lion him" and whose blog that you are currently reading right now) used to implore us to "infiltrate the marketplace!"
"INFILTRATE THE MARKETPLACE", he would loudly proclaim.
"INFILTRATE THE MARKETPLACE!!!"
What he meant was that our workplace is the mission field that we were called to and that God has placed us there for a reason. I felt like a spy on a secret mission to covertly convert all my co-workers to Christ. The thought of this overwhelmed me.
Evangelism in the workplace can be a tricky topic because you want to keep good relations with everyone and not push them away with your religion (think Tim Tebow) but you don't want to be afraid of proclaiming the gospel and compromise your faith. I found comfort and sometimes escape in St. Francis of Assisi's advice, "Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words" by working hard alone in my cubicle…… and never talking to anyone.
We imagine evangelism to be like some revival-tent-gathering where people are on their knees and begging for forgiveness. Well, after more than a decade of trying to "infiltrate" the marketplace, I'm here to tell you "do not be anxious" and do not be overwhelmed by the call to love and share God's story. I've found that it doesn't have to be "hard" to "infiltrate". Here are some easy things that you can do to share the love of Christ, that I've learned over the years.
Ask them how their weekend was.
Asking co-workers how their weekend was is easy because people already do this. You may ask, "how is this evangelism?" Well, John 13:34-35 says that "just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples." One of the best ways to love someone is to be curious about them, to be genuinely interested in them. Isn't that love? Offer a listening ear and show that you care.
I've had simple conversations around the proverbial water cooler (coffee machine) which would sometimes turn into people asking me to pray for them, for things like their dying parents or broken engagements. We are surrounded by brokenness. No one's life is perfect and sometimes people just want someone who will listen to them. The opportunities and situations to share Christ will come to you naturally if you show people love.
On the flip side, when someone asks you what you did this weekend, you can say "Well, I went bowling on Friday, then slept in on Saturday and went to the Broad with my hipster-dipster friends, and then I went to CHURCH on Sunday." You just did it. You just identified yourself as a Christian. Congratulations. Painless, right?
Find a community at work.
It's an overwhelming feeling when you think you're the only Christian in the office. It makes us even more afraid and fearful about our faith. However, the truth is that there are probably lots of other Christians out there that feel just like you do. It's your job to find these people and build a small community at work because it's always empowering to do things together.
Many years ago, after asking people how their weekend was, I found a few other like-minded co-workers. We would occasionally have lunch together and share personal prayer requests and just build each other up at work. It's incredibly helpful to know that you have people at work who share in your convictions and values within the context of your job.
Our small little group decided to start a prayer meeting and invite whoever wanted to come. I began to meet believers from the entire spectrum of Christianity from Coptics and Catholics to Reformed and Charismatics. I even met other bi-vocational pastors also. Who knew they existed!
For the last ten years, we have met every Monday and prayed for each other, our co-workers, our friends, our bosses, and our company. We call it the "church-at-work."
Glory of God.
One of my non-Christian co-workers once asked me "Why are you (Christians) guys like this?" What they meant was that why are you guys such friendly, warm, genuine, loving, hard-working co-workers. Are you guys for real? This is when Francis of Assisi's quote comes into play. You may be the only Christian that many people ever encounter. It's our responsibility and duty to represent Christ and Ekko well and dispel the Christians myths created by the media. We are normal people like you that watch Walking Dead and root for the Lakers and can't wait to watch Star Wars when it comes out. However, we must show them in actions and in words that we live for the glory of God and that has made all the difference in our lives.
Now, infiltrate the marketplace!
- TJ Moon