In God’s Service – A Review
In God’s Service: Being a distinctive disciple in your workplace by Andrew Laird & Steve Naoum.
Small Group Study Series.
“If you’ve been in any job for a period of time you’ll know how all-consuming work is. It takes up most of our waking hours and consumes much of our thinking outside the workplace… As Christians… we’re not always sure how our faith is supposed to intersect with our work.” write Laird and Naoum. They’ve written these studies “in the hope of better equipping Christians to serve and worship God while working”, whatever their employment.
The studies consider how to be distinctive, the salt and light of the world we are called to be (Matt 5:13,14) and how the ‘normal believer’ is to live out the radical mandate to bring glory to God in our ‘normal, every day lives.’ They take on specific challenges common to the workplace, and look at how to biblically apply being distinctive in those contexts, with a particularly Australian workplace in mind.
Two formats are included: a longer study designed to be used within a weekly small group context and a shorter ‘bible bite’ study that can be done individually during the week, or as a shorter group study in your lunch break with colleagues. Also included are a few short articles, as appendix, exploring further common workplace challenges for Christians; A realistic guide to workplace evangelism, The secret to work satisfaction, Six tips for managing all-consuming work and Who am I? Identity and work.
There are ten topics in the book followed by both the studies and bible bites. These cover the topics of motivations, working & caring for the earth, difficulties at work, love, service, integrity, humility, contentment, speech and rest. Across all these topics the studies consider: our motivations, positive and negative experiences of this topic within the workplace for both our career and the witness of Jesus, what the bible has to say and how this can be applied by a distinctive disciple. Each bible bite then reflects on the same topics and includes a short bible reading with a short related devotion and three questions for discussion or personal reflection.
It is very clearly aimed a Christians in the secular work force, and a unique tool in this regard. There is certainly some space for including those in a Christian workplace or ministry role as well, as the studies include both our attitudes towards work, the way we carry out our work and the impact this has on others which is just as important amongst our Christian brothers and sisters; but the studies are aimed at considering this in regard to the witness we have within secular workplaces.
In God’s Service is a really practical tool for small groups and churches, as well as for individual study. The bible bites help facilitate believers to run a short discussion with other Christians at work, or with seekers, because of their format. In following the extended studies, it would enable you to do the ‘prep’ in your church group and then lead the shortened version at work.
These studies will also help believers think more broadly about their witness at work across all the ways they behave and interact with others, rather than just during the rare ‘spiritual conversation’. I have been encouraged by my small group members as they have shared situations where they changed a behaviour or action, or was reminded to consider their witness at work because the previous week’s study was in their mind. While my ‘test group’ are young adults – in many ways the questions reflect on a presumed established workplace or career and so I could be confident to run this with adults or a multi-generational group as well. It would not be suitable for teens or students without any workplace comparison to reflect on.
Another small group leader Kelly shared her group’s recent experience with the study:
“The feedback from our group was overwhelmingly positive for this series. Our group felt it was really practical and applicable to our life stage. Although sometimes repetitious, this was good because it meant the main points really sunk in. In our group we have three ladies who are stay at home mums, and one person seeking employment, for whom it was less applicable, although we have tried to apply it to our lives as well. Preparation was quite straight forward and we have been able to share the leading around the group. Overall it has been a really good series. We have really enjoyed it and gotten a lot out of it.”
This is a fantastic new resource for equipping your congregations to share their faith in their every-day contexts! You can purchase it via SMBC Press for $8 a book here.
Cat Gillies works as Crossover’s Admin Assistant and studies at Morling Theological College. She road tested this resource in her home group of young adult workers & students, while another leader Kelly road tested it with her home group of workers & parents. Both groups are connected to Thornleigh Community Baptist Church, NSW.