Search
  • What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    by Dion A Forster
  • An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    by Dion A Forster
Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling. by Dion Forster and Graham Power.
Download a few chapters of the book here.

What is this? Scan it and see!

Pages
Social networking
myScoop

 

Join 100 Million Christians in taking a stand on Corruption and Poverty! Click here for more information.  Follow @EXPOSEDCAMPAIGN on twitter, like EXPOSED on Facebook - visit the EXPOSED website.

Entries in Marketplace ministry (22)

Saturday
Oct152011

Monday morning atheist?

I am sitting at the departure gate to Johannesburg - tonight I fly from Cape Town in order to speak at the Edenvale Baptist Church's two services tomorrow morning and spend some time with their leaders reflecting on what it means to be faithful to God's mission for them in the world.

As always I am excited and blessed by this opportunity!

I have chosen the question 'Monday morning atheist?' as my theme. My friend Doug Spada wrote a great book with that title (you can fin out more about him and the book at http://www.worklife.org - Doug is an amazing guy, and his book is one of the best I have read on being a Christian in the world of work).

Simply stated, I have come to realize that many Christians may behave like disciples of Jesus on Sunday, but many others act like atheists on Monday. We worship in Church on Sunday, but on Monday we act as if we have no faith! This is so sad since the world of work is one of the greatest opportunities for us to live out our faith in Jesus and work to establish his transforming and healing Kingdom in business, education, the arts, politics, the family and a host of other critical aspects of our lives!

Much of what I'll be talking about comes from my book 'Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling!'. You can order copies of the book (or download a few free chapters) from the links on the left hand side of this blog.

Of you're interested in inviting me to come and share some of what the Lord has been doing among us in the world of work, please drop me a line. I'd be honored to come and spend some time with you or your group!

Please pray for us as we gather tomorrow! God bless,

Dion

Friday
May062011

God, this world, and heaven.

So much of what I write about, teach about, and do, (or at least try to do), is to help Christians realize how important they are for God's purpose to transform and heal the world in which we live daily - 'our world'. Far too often we place our emphasis on 'heaven' and in doing so we neglect the earth.

The following quote expresses so clearly how I feel about faith and life:

The Kingdom of God … is about the transformation of this world into holiness, not the evacuation of this world into heaven.
~ John Dominic .

This concept is expressed even more clearly by my favorite South African Bishop, Archbishop Desmond Tutu:

I don’t preach a social gospel; I preach the Gospel, period. The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is concerned for the whole person. When people were hungry, Jesus didn’t say, ‘Now is that political or social?’ He said, ‘I feed you.’ Because the good news to a hungry person is bread.
~ Desmond Tutu.

Heaven is important, but so is the earth! God's plan for you is a plan for your life today! Don't miss it!

Thursday
May052011

Penang - wonderful people, a beautiful place!

Last night Steve Johnstone (from Unashamedly Ethical), Pr Looi Kim, Eugene and I arrived in Penang. It is a beautiful Island in Malaysia.

 

Penang sunrise.jpgWe were met by members of the Marketplace Ministry committee (isn't it great that they have an organised committee to encourage, support and develop marketplace ministers?)

 

Over the next 4 days we'll be speaking at various events with Pastors, Marketplace Leaders, Local politicians, and then on Sunday we'll be preaching various Churches. In particular we shall be launching Unashamedly Ethical, and talking about the critical relationship between Pulpit ministers and Marketplace ministers for Transformation.

 

Please join us! If you're looking more information please visit the NECF website.

 

I would also appreciate your prayers for Steve, myself, the local team and all of those who will participate! Transformation is God's desire, and God's idea. Let's pray that together we can take another step within His will!

 

I took the picture in this post when I got back from my morning run along the beach. It is a beautiful place! It reminds me a little of the Strand back home.

Monday
May022011

Transform your work life! Turn your ordinary work day into an extraordinary calling!

Workplace Christians.jpgThis morning I will doing one of the keynote talks at the Malaysian Unashamedly Ethical conference in Kuala Lumpur - I'll be focussing on one of the places that is least dealt with by the Church. The reality is that,

98% of Christians are not prepared for 95% of their working lives.

In fact, I'll be speaking about how we can focus not on the 24 hours of the week that most Churches make their primary work - I'll be talking about the other 166 hours of the week, one of the least reached places on earth - the 9 to 5 window!

I'll upload my slides (and hopefully some audio) here as soon as I am able to.

In the meantime if you're interested in reading a number of posts, insights, and some encouragement to help you transform your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling, then please scan through a few of these posts.

Thursday
Mar032011

Transform your work life to be published in the USA!

Russell Media

It is with great excitement that we can tell you that 'Transform your work life' will be released in the United States of America in June 2011!

We could not have asked for a better partner than Rusell Media!

Russel Media has a broad reach in the United States with a great emphasis on innovative marketing and communication mechanisms.

Moreover, Mark Russell, the founder of Russell Media, is himself a marketplace minister and theologian. Mark has a PhD from Asbury Seminary, having done his research on business as mission. He is the author of the highly acclaimed book, 'Our Souls at Work', and 'The Missional Entrepeneur'.

 

'Transform your work life' will go through a slight redesign and update to make it suitable for the American market.

Our intention is to launch the book during the Global Day of Prayer conference in Jacksonville between the 9-11th of June 2011.  Graham Power and I will be in the USA in 2 weeks time to visit some ministry partners and speak at various events in Jacksonville, San Francisco and Los Angeles.  Then we'll be back in the USA in June for the Global Day of Prayer conference and the Global Day of Prayer itself.

So, please keep an eye on this site for more details as they unfold. Please also keep Mark and his team in your prayers as they prepare the book for its American release.

Monday
Feb072011

The ministry of a chaplain in the contemporary missional Church

For the past 3 years I have been seconded by the Methodist Church of Southern Africa to serve as a Chaplain.  My chaplaincy has been to a number of organisations (which are all connected with the work and ministry of Graham Power, a prominent Christian Businessman and member of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa).

I have served as the Chaplain to the Global Day of Prayer, the Unashamedly Ethical movement, to two of the teams that helped to arrange the Third Lausanne Congress in Cape Town, and to the 2000 employees of the Power Group of Companies.

I often get asked what a Chaplain is, and of course what a Chaplain does!  In particular people seem to find the concept of 'corporate', 'industrial' or 'business' Chaplaincy quite interesting.  Most people are familiar with military Chaplains, prison Chaplains, and hospital Chaplains.

What is a Chaplain?  A little bit of theology and history.

Before I talk about what I do let me give a little bit of background to the concept of Chaplaincy.  Most scholars trace this history of Chaplaincy to St Martin of Tours, a 4th century Roman soldier who was convereted to Christianity.  He was stationed in the North of France and tradition tells of how he encountered a destitute man at the gate of the city of Amiens one day.  He was filled with compassion for the poor, naked, man and so took his sword and cut his Roman cloak (capella) in half and gave one half to the shivering man.  The legend further suggests that the poor man that he helpded later revealed himself as Jesus (similar to what we read in Matthew 24:34-36).  St Martin was later ordained and allowed to minister outside of the 'gathered Church' in places of great need.  He became known as the keeper of the bisected cloak (the capellanus) - from which we derive the name 'Chaplain'.

It is interesting to note that Martin and his cohorts spread throughout the country meeting the needs of people and establishing places of worship (which where known as Chapels, after those who birthed and nurtured them, the Chaplains).  The Chapel this came out of the ministry of the Chaplain, and not the other way around as it is commonly assumed.

Robert Jones writes in the Journal, Epworth Review:

Here then is the initial feature of chaplaincy, that it first addresses the acute need with practical care. Secondly, it goes to where people are without wating for them to come where we are....  Finally, this story says something to us about status, for at the moment of the inception of [St Martin's] ministry, Martin was still a lay person. He was later ordained... Chaplaincy has had the potential from the beginning to be a ministry of the whole people of God.

I have found this image very helpful in my own ministry.  I am one who is called to meet people at their point of need.  The 'world of work' is often a place of great struggle, hardship, and drudgery.  I have had wonderful opportunities to offer practical and spiritual care in the workplace. Second, I constantly strive to facilitate instances of worship (Chapels if you will).  Sometimes these are places (like the prayer room we have at our offices).  And at other times they are short momemnts either with groups of individuals - for example when I go out onto our building and construction sites to meet with our staff.  Most importantly I have attempted to 'extend' the office of Chaplain to numerous people in our company and in other companies and contexts.  We have numerous 'lay people' who are ministers in their own right, offering pastoral care, teaching, and mobilizing ministry.

What do I do as a 'corporate' or 'business' Chaplain?

My Chaplaincy is primarily characterised by service.  I'm sure that each Chaplaincy is unique in its character and form, attempted to meet the needs of the context in Christian love.

However, since I serve a Christian man, and serve in a Christian organisation, I have many wonderful opportunities for ministry.  Among other things I do the following:

 

  • Offer counselling and care to our staff and their families.
  • Lead prayer meetings and Bible study groups in and around the workplace.
  • I develop and share materials on spirituality in daily life (prayer guides, daily reflections, ideas for ministry and service etc.)
  • I oversee and assist in the ministry of The Global Day of Prayer internationally and perform the same function with the team in our Unashamedly Ethical Office.
  • I oversee the management of our company's Corporate Social Investment and Charitable giving (we have a Charitable Trust for this purpose).
  • I do executive coaching for some of our senior leadership (with a particular emphasis on work life balance, spirituality, personal calling etc.)
  • I sit on numerous committees in the company that have an input into the wellbeing of our employees, that look after aspects of our decisions (particularly in regard to ethics and social responsibility).
  • I travel to lead workshops and retreats on the book that Graham Power and I wrote together called 'Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling'
  • I consult to individuals and companies who are serious about finding God's direction, guidance, and will for their lives and their resources.  I help to reshape both individuals and structures for greater significance in God's Kingdom.

 

Of course I perform a myriad of more mundane tasks that relate to budgest, meetings, planning, strategy, correspondance etc.

What is central to everything that I do as a Chaplain is the understanding that 'work can be worship' (Col 3.23).  And the little phrase I often use which says:

While some are called to pastor congregations, everyone is called to ministry.

I'd love to hear your ideas, feedback!  Do you do something similar?  Do you long to do something similar?  Have you got any creative ideas or inputs that could shape and form such a ministry?

Tuesday
Nov232010

Where the magic happens ... sometimes

This is my office at Power.  The picture was taken using Pano (an iPhone app that stitches photos together to form a wide angle shot). On the very left you can see a picture of me doing the Argus (my first one back in 2001), then my Ordination Certificate as a minister of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, then a lovely picture of a cross that my daughter Courtney painted for me.  Some family photos - my Sony Vaio UX 180 p lives under the orange dusting cloth (I use it to connect to our large Nashua copier / printer at Power since the Nashua does not have an Apple Mac Printer driver...)  Then you'll see some scale models of Vespa scooters.

The book on my desk is 'The Church in a Postliberal Age' (a collection of articles from George A Lindbeck, edited by Stanley Hauerwas).  Then you'll see my trusty 13" Macbook and an Apple Mighty Mouse, my 32Gig iPad 3G, a cup of Coffe, a stack of mail for a friend, my bookshelf (that has my most used books on it ... I have HUNDREDS of books on shelves at home).

It's a comfy space, quiet enough for counseling and prayer with colleagues.  I get a lot of work done here!

Saturday
Sep042010

Daniel conference / konferensie 2010 - just what I needed!

Just like a motorcar needs a 'tune up' from time to time in order to run well, I have discovered that I need constant reminders of what matters most in life - a spiritual and emotional 'tune up' of sorts! A renewing of my faith in community!

The speakers at this year's Daniel Conference / Konferensie included Braam Kloppper, Alan Platt, Jannie de Beer, Stephan Joubert, Peet Grobelaar and myself. Lious Brits took care of the worship in such a magnificent way!

Last week we kicked the conference off in Cape Town - it was such an incredible time! We had about 600 men together of all ages and races. I was reminded of my need for a deep and intimate spirituality. I was also reminded that as a father and husband I have a great responsibility to care for the needs of my family and reach out to the community in which I have the privilege of living.

My own talk focussed on taking up the responsibility of being a faithful Christ follower in the work place - I am convinced that as Christians we have such incredible opportunities to 'touch' the world with God's transforming love. Not only can we reach people through God's transforming love, we can also encounter systems with God's justice, mercy and grace. On Monday at work you can do as much to declare God's worth by changing a policy that causes pain and suffering for people as you can by declaring God's worth and glory in song, prayer and liturgy on a Sunday.

Your interactions with people can create great blessing and joy for those around you. Work can be worship (Col 3.23).

If you are interested in reading moreabout the practical ideas and scriptures that can inform you to turn your WHOLE life into an act of blessing and worship then please take a look at the book that Graham Power and I wrote together called, 'Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling'.

Please see http://bit.ly/transformwork for all the details about the book. Just to mention that the costs from the sale of these books go entirely to the Unashamedly Ethical campaign.

So, if you purchase a copy you're not only learning about ministry in your work life and work place, you're also supporting a good cause! You can also download the first few chapters of the book at the top of my website.

Today I will be speaking at the Daniel Conference in Pretoria. I am a little nervous (to say the least!) there are 3500 men gathered here. Please pray for these men, and also for me!

If you attended the Daniel Conference in Cape Town, or here at Moreleta Park, please share a testimony, some feedback or your thoughts! I'd love to hear from you!

I am humbled to have the opportunity to share with these men and I pray that God will use them and bless them to achieve His perfect desire to transform our nation!

Wednesday
Sep012010

Another article published (Lausanne World Pulse) - Business as Ministry

It is always humbling to have an article published! I am particularly grateful that my article on Business as Mission was published in the September Lausanne World Pulse!

It deals with a subject that I am passionate about!

I'd be grateful if you'd read it here and encourage others to do the same.

Thanks!

Dion

Friday
Aug272010

Making the moments at work count.

Over the years Graham and I have spoken to many deeply-committed Christians who have never considered that God may actually have something for them to achieve between Monday and Friday.

We tend to place our lives into two boxes, a sacred box (everything we do for God), and a secular box (everything else we do).

Very often business people think of their ‘God stuff ’ as worship – and worship only happens in certain places (like church buildings) at certain times (like on a Sunday, or on Christmas and Easter). Everything else is simply ‘my stuff ’ and it has very little to do with my worship. So, my work, my friendships, my community relation- ships, my sport – all of these ‘other things’ are outside of the sacred.

The reality is that everything that we have, all that we are, and all that we do should be done for God.

From God’s perspective there is no separation between work and worship. I once heard someone explain it in this way – imagine that you have a ‘big worship switch’ on your back. Each time that you enter into worship the switch is flicked on. Do think that God is honoured when your ‘worship switch’ is flicked off? Surely we should never stop worshipping God – even at work.

God has a perfect will for every person, for every situation and every place. When you begin to look at your workplace and the people that you work with from God’s perspective you can see that He may just have an incredible mission for you to perform right where you are from Monday to Friday.

A few points to think about

  • Please read Colossians 3:23–24.
  • What is God’s attitude to work and labour?
  • If Jesus had your job, working among the people you work with, doing the things you do during your workday, what do you think He would want to achieve? How different is that from what you are striving for?

Wednesday
Aug042010

Who do you work for?

Who do you work for?

This may sound like a strange question from someone that you don't know, but your answer is important!

Paul encourages the Colossians saying ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward’ (Col 3:23-24).

Who we work for not only determines what we do, it also how we do it.

In the Construction company where Graham Power and I work, the Power Group of Companies we have the wonderful blessing of knowing that our purpose as a group is to ‘improve the lives of people in Africa through infrastructure development’. This means that because we know who we work for our work can be ministry! Building roads, building homes... All of these things can be used by God to bless others and achieve God's will in the world.

That is ministry, and each one of us plays an important role in that task!

When you arrive at work you are a partner in God’s mission for your company – whether you work in an office, or on a site, God can use your job to make people’s lives better.

Jesus commanded Christians to ‘Go into all the world…’ to share the Good News (Matt 28:18-20). The ‘world of work’ is very important in that instruction from the Lord.

In ‘Transform your work life’ Graham and I wrote the following: Each day when you go to work you have an opportunity to ‘go into all the world’ without having to go across the world.

So, let me ask you, what can you do to share God’s blessing among the people you work with? How can you work for Jesus at work by doing your work for His purposes and in order to honour Him? Remember that the rewards will not only bring blessing to you, but they will help to transform the lives of others!

Please can I encourage you to pray for each of the people that you work with on a daily basis?

Remember, work can be worship!

Dion

Tuesday
Jul272010

Jesus - monk or manager? The answer could change your life!

When you think about Jesus, what kind of minister do you think he was?  This may sound like a strange question, but it is important to answer it honestly!  I have come to see that most Christians tend to think of Jesus more as ‘monk’ than as a ‘manager’!

Some of the people that I spoke to thought that Jesus did similar things during his ministry to what their pastor does today (he preached, he cared for the sick, he nurtured people, he built a community).  Now of course that is partially true – a great deal of what pastors do in their congregations today is modelled on the ministry of Jesus.  However, it is a mistake to limit your understanding of Jesus’ ministry to such a narrow understanding.  The problem with seeing Jesus in this way is that it becomes difficult to imagine that Jesus did the kinds of ‘ordinary’ things that you and I have to do each day!  Somehow this ‘religious’ view of Jesus and his ministry creates a measure of separation between our everyday lives, and particularly our everyday work lives, and the life and work of Jesus.

In fact, I’m sure that like me you may have heard some sermons preached in which the impression is created that Jesus is antagonistic towards the marketplace!

Our picture of Jesus and his ministry is shaped by years of reading, learning, and thinking about the saviour.  I have found that sometimes I need to see things from a slightly different perspective in order to discover new opportunities and possibilities for my faith life.

Let me illustrate it to you in this way.  Recently a friend attended a course on ‘listening’ for a counselling program he is running.  The facilitator placed a serial box in the middle of the table around which the participants were sitting.  He asked each of them to tell the others what they saw.  Naturally there were various descriptions of the box depending on where the participants were sitting.  Some saw the front of the box, while others saw the back.  Some could see part of the front and one side, while others could see part of the back and the other side.

What you will read next is simply an attempt to look at Jesus’ life from a different angle, an angle that might help you to feel closer to him in your everyday worklife.

Biblical scholars tell us that Jesus lived for about 33 years (from his birth to his death on the cross).  During those 33 years the synoptic Gospels record that Jesus only spent 3 years of his life, from age 30-33, doing the kind of ministry that makes most people view him as a wondering monk, or Rabbi (Hebrew teacher or priest).  Have you ever thought about what Jesus did with the rest of his life?  Did Jesus only start loving people, praying for them, caring for their needs, telling them about God when he turned 30?  Of course not!  While Jesus may only have started his public ‘teaching’ ministry at around 30 years of age (Lk 4:14-15), we know that he was already displaying the evidence of his special nature and calling as a young boy.  Luke says ‘And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.’ (Lk 2:40).  How would others have known of his wisdom unless he was saying and doing wise things?  How would they have known that God’s grace was upon him unless he was already displaying God’s grace in his words and actions?  In fact the clearest evidence that Jesus was already engaging in ministry as a boy is to be found Luke 2:41-52, the account of Jesus engaging the priests in conversation in the temple.  Once again this passage ends with Luke noting, ‘And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.’ (Lk 2:52 NIV).

So, we can be sure that Jesus was a minister, even as a young child – (Lk 4:49) Jesus notes that he is about his Father’s business.  As we discussed in chapter 4, to be a minister means to ‘act under God’s authority’.  It is assumed that Jesus would have been about 12 years of age when this incident in the temple took place, and as Luke points out he continued to grow in stature, getting recognition from others, and found great favour with God and other people. 

This simply means that Jesus was in a different form of ministry from at least age 12-30, than the kind of ministry he did from age 30-33.  What kind of ministry was Jesus engaged in for those 18 years?  Mark’s Gospel gives us an insight into the primary way in which Jesus’ community viewed him during that period, ‘Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?’ (Mk 6:3 NIV).

Jesus’ contemporaries recognised him first as a businessman – a carpenter – and then only later as their teacher and saviour.

It is important to note that Jesus didn’t do carpentry as a hobby.  In the ancient near east a boy would take up his trade as a teenager, normally learning the skills and techniques that he would use to support his family in years to come.  Since Joseph was a carpenter, Jesus followed the same trade.  So by the time of Jesus begins his public ministry (Lk 4:15) he had spent almost 20 years applying his trade.  Of course it is not surprising that his contemporaries found it difficult to relate to him as their saviour, since some of them would have bought Jesus’ products!  Perhaps they had a table, or a door, or some farm implement, that Jesus had crafted for them in their house.  Furthermore, Jesus clearly knew his trade well, since we can see that he uses the metaphor of a wooden yoke, something that a skilled carpenter would have made many times, to illustrate the blessing of living a life under submission to God (see Matt 11:29-30).  As Ed Silvoso rightly points out in Anointed for business, Jesus parables are full of examples that show his understanding of business and the marketplace:  construction (Matt 7:24-27), wine making (Lk 5:37-38), farming (Mk 4:2-20), tending animals (Mt 18:13-44), management and labour (Matt 20:1-16), return on investments (Matt 25:14-30), crop yield (Mk 13:27-32), and management criteria (Lk 12:35-48).

Just as Jesus encountered people with the knowledge of business then, he wishes to encounter you with the knowledge of your daily work today!  Jesus understands the pressures of working with people, the challenge of creating something that one can market and sell in order to earn a livelihood.  Jesus knows how to deal with customers and suppliers, how to manage a workflow and juggle priorities in order to remain in business – he did it for 20 years of his life.  And, the remarkable thing about it is that we’re told that while he did this he continued to grow in wisdom and favour with both God and people!  Jesus understands what it means to be a minister in the marketplace.

Central to Jesus ministry in the marketplace was the understanding that he needed to obey God’s will in order to effectively establish God’s Kingdom on earth.  Notice that Jesus mission statement is very practical, it deals with poverty, health care, criminal reform, debt, justice and God’s loving favour (Lk 4:18-19).  

You can read more about Jesus and the workplace in 'Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling" you can download the first few chapters here, or purchase a copy of the book at Christian Republic or at Wordsworth and Exclusive books.

Christian republic has a special running - you can get the book for just R88.00 and that includes a free leather type journal.