Evangelism at work 'more important than career'
City bible forum speaker David Chan urges evangelism over career advancement
By Stephen Cauchi
August 16 2017Christians should make workplace evangelism a priority, one even more important than career advancement, according to a speaker from Christian business organisation City Bible Forum.
Forum speaker David Chan told the recent Salt 2 conference that, among other measures, Christians should consider refusing promotion or another job offer in order to preserve their evangelising relationship with non-Christian colleagues.
He gave his presentation on the topic of workplace evangelism at the Salt 2 conference, “Sharing Your Faith”, at St Hilary’s in Kew.
Mr Chan works part-time in information technology as well as for City Bible Forum, which is a national Christian organisation serving the business community.
“There’s a giant contingent of people who are going into the workplace on a Monday but not necessarily recognising that there is a ripe mission field right at the front door,” said Mr Chan.
He said the modern workplace was at the “frontlines of ministry”.
“Sociologically, work is one of the last remaining places where long-term relationships exist.”
Mr Chan, who has just completed a Master of Divinity at Ridley, said that workplace relationships had to be developed for evangelism to work.
And preserving those workplace relationships could come at personal cost to Christians, he said.
Christian employees tempted to change jobs had to ask “is there an opportunity to stay longer in that location to actually develop those relationships further,” said Mr Chan.
“Because every time we change jobs, we have to change the set of relationships also.”
The same principle applied to career progression, said Mr Chan – it changed the workplace relationship between two people and thus the potential for one to evangelise the other.
“Do we always take that promotion if that actually changes the power dynamic in the relationship,” he said.
Christians also had to ensure they were using their coffee and lunch breaks effectively to connect with non-believers, said Mr Chan.
Additionally, they had to show interest in the lives of non-Christian workers, knowing the names of their children as well as their hopes, dreams and challenges.
As well, Christians should be open about their faith in the workplace.
Often, “you are not just a Christian guy in the office, but the Christian guy in the office,” he said.
“It’s a lightning rod for questions and answers – for the angry atheist person, for the person who might be dabbling in philosophy or psychology or sociology and needs someone to bounce ideas off.”
Mr Chan said that, unexpectedly, he had become a de facto chaplain in his workplace.
He said colleagues would talk to him, often over coffee, about job uncertainty, critical family illnesses, or – most commonly – marital difficulties.
Christians had to be wary of always focussing on their career future, said Mr Chan. They had to adopt the attitude that “where I am right now is where God wants me to be”.
“How, in that time, are we speaking to the lives of people who are around us,” he said.
Work often felt like a prison, said Mr Chan – yet the Apostle Paul was frequently in a real prison, and he used that time to spread the gospel.
Paul saw his stay in prison as part of God’s providence for his life, said Mr Chan. He could fulfil a purpose in jail while at the same time making plans to escape jail.
In the same way, Christians needed to ask “how do I time-prioritise Christian stuff on top of an already packed schedule”.
They had to develop relationships with their colleagues so that conversations about religion would then be able to flow, he said.
Christians had to ask “how do I intentionally love these people so they…see myself as someone who can provide avenues for meaning?”
A Christian at work was often the only exposure to Christianity for many people, said Mr Chan. It was important, therefore, to set a good example.
“We have to be genuine and real – not only when we’re at our best but also when we’re at our worst. Are they still seeing, in those situations, how the gospel changes us?”
Christians were often taught about the importance of sharing their personal Christian testimony as well as repeating gospel apologetics, said Mr Chan.
While these were important, a personal relationship between believer and non-believer had to be established first, he said.
Salt 2 was held on June 28.