Kingdom in the workplace
A guest blog by Lyndsey Seale of Transform Work UK ...
Upon graduating from university in the USA, I had a singular focus in mind – being a foreign missionary.
I’d spent my four years being a reporter and I’d discerned there wasn’t enough purpose (read: Christian missionary glory) in getting a nine-to-five job. My parents put a “you can’t waste your degree” wall between myself and my dream, so I did the next best thing – I applied for an academic based government grant that would appease the pride in my parent’s pocket book and get me to a foreign nation which needed my evangelical zeal.
Nine months into living in Thailand, my now husband Collin, ruined the whole experiment by proposing. After just 13 months of overseas foray, I found myself back in my hometown, working at Google and focusing all of my efforts on a missionary training program to get me out of there as soon as possible.
About six months into our missionary training program, Collin made a profound observation that his financial company would never send him overseas to do a job he hadn’t excelled in locally. "Why," he asked, "would our church support us to grow a brand new church in a country we didn’t know the language, when we didn’t have the experience of what that was like here?".
I had been so focused on becoming a foreign missionary, I had overlooked my immediate mission field eight hours a day, five days a week. As I began to assess my daily surroundings at Google, I observed that “tech millenials”, my colleagues, were in fact an unreached people group. And they were my people group.
God began to open up various strategies which we would then adapt to a new foreign language: ‘tech company speak’. For my husband, it was financial office talk, and it wasn’t hard to adjust.
We developed a simple plan to answer four basic questions:
• How do I simply begin the conversation, and can it be “HR approved”?
• How do I share the true Gospel in a way that isn’t two hours long?
• If they want to grow in Jesus, or even learn more about Him, but I’ve only got one hour with them at work, what is my plan?
• How do I create this as a gathering so it moves beyond a one on one experience ... is it possible to have a plan and structure for church in the office?
Suddenly I was responsible for the answer to these questions which I had been outsourcing to my pastor.
We saw that having a simple tool to answer each question gave rise to the need of a tool to answer the following one. Not as theory, but because we experienced colleagues moving along this continuum. Jesus was right, the fields truly were white for the harvest ... at Google!
We decided to stay in our jobs, and commit to seeing a church start up and take on the vision of multiplication before we would consider leaving. Paul updated his home church in Antioch with the wonders God was doing in a new place and established some expression of a church before he would move on to the next. We found ourselves writing “to the church that meets in Conference Room C”.
Four years later and we have moved on, not only from our jobs and city but to a new country entirely – the UK. My husband saw a colleague give his life to Jesus and, after some time, brought multiples of his friends to faith in Christ, started a house church and, truly, pushed Collin out of his “ministry” job at their office.
God allowed me to experience the same leadership replacement which propelled us to a position where we now work with Christians in offices like Facebook, Apple, The London City Council, Ernst & Young, and we pass on these simple yet effective tools.
God has indeed brought me overseas but I no longer prize the term missionary. If we all had the ability to see in the Spirit, I believe each Christian would find they’ve been placed in their fluorescent lit, underwhelming, sometimes monotonous office for such a time as this.
Perhaps what we’re missing is simply the practical knowledge of where to start. I can indeed tell you, it is possible that it ends with a church of new believers gathering next to the fax machine.
- Lyndsey and Collin Seale live in London and are associates of workplace training for Transform Work UK. You can find their tools and training on this free online platform and welcome communication by email here
(Also published on wordonthestreets.net)