Creating rather than complaining

David Stroud's editorial in the recent Newfrontiers UK Connect magazine is so spot-on that I'm going to put it here in (almost) its entirety so you don't have any excuse for not reading it...

I recently spoke to an actor who, in a moment of candid honesty, admitted ‘I have never felt at home in a church before, because people have never understood my job.’ How many of us feel our careers are devalued or misunderstood? How many see our jobs as secondary to mission and struggle to have a vision for how Jesus can use us in our sphere of influence?

It is tempting to see a divide between church and our work. But I am increasingly convinced that we need to be people who shape culture, and if this is to happen, we dare not devalue our jobs! We need to see our workplaces as mission fields and ask the question ‘what does Jesus want to do in my workplace?’

A businessman, soon after coming to faith, told me he was dissatisfied with the recruitment industry in which he worked. He was put off by the cut-throat attitude that cared more about profits than the welfare of their clients. In January he established his own recruitment agency, with a vision to affect the industry based on the principles of fairness, honesty and customer care. Within eight months their reputation had spread and he had relocated from his mother’s kitchen to an office in a prime location.

I am thrilled by examples like this; men and women who have a vision for their employment, and see it as a key part of the Church’s mission. Shaping culture is not just about planting churches and leading individuals to Christ, as vital as that is. It’s about promoting the common good; benefitting everybody by creating better environments in which to live and work.

There is great potential for affecting change through positive influence. If we promote beauty, truth and goodness, everyone benefits. Christians are too often known for campaigning against the negative aspects of secular culture. I’m for creating rather than complaining. We need to seek opportunities to promote positive culture; helping Christian artists to exhibit their work and businessmen to operate ethically. What’s more, if Christians are seen to be having a positive effect, we will gain credibility and a platform to speak on many issues…

To this end, we are launching a brand new conference in 2010 entitled Everything. Taking as our text Psalm 24:1, ‘The Earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it’, this conference will look at how we can glorify God in all areas of our lives, with seminar tracks on work, community, the mind and the arts. The conference will run in two locations; London and Leeds, and more information will follow in the coming months.

UPDATE: Thoughts along the same lines can be found here as part of the Gospel Coalition’s Theological Vision for Ministry.