Thanks again for the opportunity to contribute Carson, and thank you for your question.
I agree with the pastor to mention. All followers of Jesus are evangelists. It’s not something we get to outsource. Our only choice is whether we are committed evangelists or uncommitted evangelists. As we search for guidance in our approach to effective and obedient evangelism in the workplace – as ever – it is the Word of God itself that gives us our starting point. In Acts 17, Paul goes to Athens and begins by speaking at a Jewish synagogue. He then goes and shares the gospel in the marketplace. He then goes and does the same at the Areopagus. In every instance, we see the following:
(i) Paul speaks to the people where they are, physically
(ii) Paul peaks to the people where they are, intellectually
(iii) He is neither judgmental nor condescending
(iv) He finds common-ground for the Gospel in their worldview and channels the Gospel through that common ground.
Of course, these principles are not confined to evangelism in the workplace. They are arguably, universal guides for sharing our faith anywhere and with anyone. However, the workplace offers a unique setting through which authentic friendships can be built and invested in. These relationships can then form the backdrop against which all four of Paul’s principles can be brought into practical effect. This backdrop is underpinned by the fifth – and arguably most important – principle:
(v) Our demonstration of the love of Christ in how we behave in our workplaces is our most powerful platform apologetic platform for evangelism (John 13:35).
Our workplaces offer us the unique opportunity to bring all five of these principles together. To engage with people where they are, we must actively and genuinely engage with who they are – their lives, their hopes, their dreams, their fears, their questions. We must also be patient and responsive – never in a hurry. A believer who thinks of their colleagues and friends as ‘evangelism projects’ is about as obvious as a door-to-door salesman and as likely to succeed as a salad bar in a KFC restaurant.
Of course, evangelism in the workplace needs to be done sensitively and with respect to regulations and guidelines of your employing organisation and any other relevant laws and ethical boundaries. While it is up to each of us to be appraised of these, the conversations I have alluded to thus far are best done ‘in the margins’ – at work social events, a beer at the pub, a dinner-party, a weekend brunch – and we must especially be respectful of any perceived or actual impropriety that may arise when we share our faith with those whom we directly manage or lead professionally.
That being said, all five principles need not be watered down in how they are made real in our working lives. As Paul was, we must be strategic and yet genuine, tactical and yet authentic, intentional and yet loving.
As a great preacher said, the Gospel is like a beautiful diamond and it shines in different ways depending on the angle at which you hold it. The workplace offers us the opportunity to share our faith-story, answer questions and invite people to Christ – all the while praying for the Spirit to lead us in how best to hold up the Gospel so its unstoppable light shines into people’s lives in a relevant way.
Yes, being carefully vocal with our faith in the workplace may seem difficult. And yes, we may come up against social, emotional and professional adversity. However, we know what Shakespeare’s Duke Senior said about adversity: It’s ugly and venomous like a toad but holds a precious jewel in its head! The only place that our colleagues can find the fulfilment, the satisfaction, the peace and flourishing they have always looked for, is in the love of Jesus Christ So let us build authentic relationships at work. Let us channel the Gospel graciously, respectfully (1 Peter 3:15), strategically and thoughtfully (Acts 17). Let our workplaces be a place where our faith is lived out – where God’s glory is proclaimed and where His Kingdom is advanced.