Business Chaplaincy4 min read

At first he was just another guy who walked into the office wanting to talk. Pastor Ekong and I were both there that day, and he walked in a little uneasily. We were hoping he wanted to become a member of Trinity—he didn’t. We wondered whether he was there to lodge a complaint or get an answer for something we’d done—he wasn’t. So we asked him what was up, and he started something like this:  “I don’t know if you guys do stuff like this or not, but…”

I wonder how many times that question has come up in my ministry. Normally I like to think that I’m open to trying new things, especially when it comes to meeting people who are pre-Christians. But I know that, deep down inside—ok, probably closer to the surface than that—I’m quite often tempted to associate with my friends, especially my church friends, than I am with people outside the church. It’s not that I’m against those who aren’t members, it’s just a lot easier to be with people whom I know I will see in heaven.

Anyway, back to the story. He said, “I don’t know if you guys do stuff like this or not, but I’m a local business owner, and I am wondering if you would be willing to come to my business and meet with some of my employees, help them through stuff, pray with them, you know, basically pastor them.” Without missing a beat the words flew out of my unfiltered mouth: “Yeah, absolutely!”

I wonder how often I’ve missed opportunities to witness to pre-Christians by speaking filtered words. How often have I hidden the light of the gospel under the bushel of political correctness, laziness, or looking for a more opportune time?  One of my favorite outreach tools for doing ministry has been assisting the Grass Lake football team as a volunteer coach for a few years. On the football field, and in the locker rooms, almost any speech goes. After six years of slowly spreading the seeds, one of the coaches came up to me about two weeks ago and said, “I need to talk to you, I want to get baptized.” Isn’t it amazing how Jesus’ words ring true? If we do as he commands us to do, he brings forth the fruits in due season.

Sorry, I keep getting distracted from the story. After exchanging pleasantries with the guy in our office, I found out that he and his wife actually live in Dexter, about 35 minutes from Jackson, and are members at a church in that area. He has been LCMS his entire life, and they recently moved here from Valparaiso to buy the business they now run. He noticed that a lot of his employees had no hope and no answers for the garbage that accumulates in their lives, and knowing the gospel of Jesus, the power of the forgiveness of sins given to all believers, and the hope of eternal life given by the resurrected Christ, he wanted to find a way to make that available to his employees. What a novel concept!

[Tweet “Local businesses have hurting people who need the Gospel.”]

Since that day about four months ago, I have made monthly visits to his business. I set up shop in an unused office, and the employees come to visit in the order they signed up in. I’ve worked with quite a few of them, and they each have their own baggage they are dealing with. Worse, they have no clue where to turn, and some have even been hurt by the institutional church before. So now, instead of having to turn to drugs, alcohol, or whatever other crutches they may have been using, they have the opportunity to talk to a pastor monthly, with no reports going to the bosses, no pressure to join a church, and they are getting a faithful testimony to God and his Son Jesus while they are at work.

Company morale has improved. A few of the employees have made important life decisions, and progress, already. And this pastor, who fights the Jonah temptation that we all do, has found a new way to reach the pre-Christian community.

What opportunities are there for you in your community? You don’t have to go to a hospital or join the Army to be a chaplain. Local businesses—perhaps some that your own congregants own—have hurting people who need the Gospel, and sometimes the Law, of God. They are often more willing to hear you than you may think. Just as planting the seeds on the football field has yielded fruit a few years down the line, so too must I admit that I don’t know when the employees will come to church—but I do know this: when they are ready to, they already have a friend who is a pastor.

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