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  • Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Pickwick Publications

    Foreword by Walter Brueggemann, my chapter is entitled 'In conversation: The Old Testament, Ethics and Human Dignity'. A superb resource edited by Julie Claassens and Bruce Birch

  • 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.
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Entries in transform your worklife (6)

Saturday
Jun282014

Pastoral care to Christians in the World of Work

This week I had the joy of speaking at a number of sessions at the Alpha Workplace Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - as always it was wonderful to be with my friends here and such a great blessing to see how the Church sensitively operates in this context.

At today's session I was asked to post the slides from my talk to the internet.  So, please find a copy of the slides (which are an 'un-formatted' copy, i.e., they do not have the Alpha branding and style sheet applied).

Then, for a description of the content here is part of a post from 2008 when I first developed this theology.  You can also download a 30 minute Audio recording for Radio Pulpit that discusses these ideas here: '5 paradigms that could change your work into worship' here (6MB MP3).  If you are interested here is a short preview of the book in which I wrote about the 5 paradigms - 'Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling' (1MB PDF).  If you are interested in buying a copy of the book you can get it on Amazon here.  Finally, I have just recently been notified that an academic article that I wrote on research done among Christians in South Africa the world of work and Christian needs, is being published in the Journal 'Koers: Bulletin for Christian Scholarship' - if you are interested to read that article please drop me an email and I'll let you know when it is published.

Here is the little video clip that I used (which was recorded a few years ago with Graham Power).

My ministry changed radically about 9 years ago when a wealthy business person came to faith in Christ. He is a gifted and capable person who had made an incredible success of his companies. My first inclination, when he asked how he could serve the Lord, was to suggest that he get involved in the leadership of our Church, or perhaps run our Church's finance commission (clearly he was a gifted leader and a person who knew how to work with money). If I had suggested that to him the result may have been two things.

1) I may have helped one Methodist Church in a single city of South Africa to develop.
2) I'm fairly certain that in the process this new Christian would have become bored and frustrated with the task I had assigned him to and he would have moved on.

Thankfully I was dumb enough NOT to get him into that position - rather I invited him to join a small group that I was running specifically for business people. Here I knew his peers could start to disciple him on things like Christian worship, loving service, stewardship and the use of his influence and resources for Christ's Kingdom... The long and short of it is that the person I am talking about is Graham Power, who went on to start the Global Day of Prayer(which this year had between 300 and 400 million persons participating).

Graham has become a significant figure in world Christianity. God has used him to bring new excitement, passion, and drive to many Churches and denominations worldwide. Equally significant has been his influence among his peers (all leaders in their own right, either in business or politics) who have made some significant choices that have bettered the lives of many millions of persons in countries such as Ghana, Argentina, Kenya, the USA and a host of other nations.

I have come to consider this one fact: Graham was created by God to do business... It's what he does well, and he God blesses his efforts.

So, when Graham works to God's glory and towards the aims of achieving God's will for his companies, the industry in which he works, and the nation that he influences, then his work becomes worship!

So, here's a little audio recording that I did for my 'radio pulpit' show (The Ministry and Me), it was broadcast in the week of the 20th of August 2008, and you can order an audio copy of the CD from Radio Pulpit if you wish.

Download the '5 paradigms that could change your work into worship' here (6MB in MP3 format).

The show was broadcast in the week of the 6th of August and I have had many emails and calls about it. 

Let me know what you think!

 

Sunday
May302010

An overview of ministry in the marketplace

In this post you'll find a good video interview about ‘Transform your work life’.  Moreover the interview gives some good insights into the concepts of ministry in the marketplace and being a marketplace minister - if you're missional and mission minded this would be a good primer on the subject of living your faith beyond Sunday's Church service!

What is God’s purpose for work?
How can you find blessing during your worklife?
How can you transform your workplace without alienating your co-workers and clients?
Does God automatically bless Christians?
Should Christians only work for Christian companies?

These questions, and many more, are discussed. You’ll also get some insights into ministry in the marketplace and being a marketplace minister.

Transform your work life - full interview about the book. from Dion Forster on Vimeo.

 

I'd love to hear your perspectives, insights, and ideas on serving Jesus in the '9-5 window'! Drop me a, or post a comment below.

Thursday
Apr152010

Maximizing your work life - blessing in the 9 - 5 window.

I’m sure that you may have heard about the ‘least reached’ portion of the world called the 10/40 window?  This is a geographical region where there are no Christians, or very few Christians.  For many years churches and Christian ministries have focussed their energy and attention on getting missionaries into those areas to spread the Gospel of Christ.
 
You may be surprised to discover that there is a region much closer to where you are every day that is also classified as an ‘unreached’ group for the Gospel!  I call it the 9 to 5 window!  Of course I am referring to the place where you work each day – the reality is that the work place is one of the least reached and transformed regions of the world.
 
Of course there are many reasons for this.  Some people have come to believe that Christianity is something that belongs to a particular building (your church) or a particular time (Sunday morning).  However, what do you think Jesus meant when he prayed ‘…let your Kingdom come, let your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’ (Matthew 6:10)?  Of course Jesus wasn’t just praying that God’s Kingdom would be established in a particular place, or at particular times!  Jesus longs to be Lord of both the Church and the Marketplace!
 
So, the question is, who takes responsibility for the establishment of God’s Kingdom where you spend most of your day?  Who is God calling to transform your work place to reflect the values of His Kingdom?
 
Part of the answer can be found in the following verse: ‘go and make disciples of all nations…’ (Matthew 28:20).  Being a disciple of Jesus means that one is disciplined in the ways of Jesus.  Believing in Jesus as saviour is only the beginning (sure it is the most important start that any person could ever make, however it is just the beginning of what God longs for!)  You know I read this verse for many years and never realised that Jesus commands his disciples, and also commands you and me, to go and make disciples of all nations.
 
I was a Pastor of various Churches for almost 17 years.  As I think back on the teaching, preaching, and courses that I ran in those churches I came to realise that we spent quite a lot of time trying to help people to become disciples of Jesus.  However, we spent very little time trying to disciple those elements that make up a nation!
 
Have you ever considered that God may be calling you to be a minister in the marketplace?  It may just be that God has placed you in the office where you work, among the people that you encounter (co-workers, clients etc.) in order to disciple them, and the systems within which you work, in order to establish His Kingdom on that little bit of earth!
 
If you were to think about the people and things that you face regularly during your work week, what would God want to change?  Perhaps there is a particular policy in your company that is unethical.  Maybe there is some relationship between your boss and another co-worker that does not reflect Christ’s love.  Maybe there are some decisions that are being made that are unlawful, or hurtful, to your community.  I think God may be calling you to take responsibility for establishing His Kingdom in that place!
 
Doing this may not be as difficult as you imagine.  In the company where I serve, the Power Group of Companies, transformation began when one employee (a lady named Eleanor) decided to start praying for her bosses and her co-workers.  That was all she did!  Then eventually she got some others to join her in prayer, and from there some key influences and decision makers started changing small little things in the company during meetings and gatherings.  They prayed that God would bless and use their company to transform the industry and reach the nation.  This simple act, by a secretary, eventually led to the conversion of the CEO, Graham Power, who went on the start the largest prayer movement in all recorded history – the Global Day of Prayer.
 
Eleanor took responsibility for her work life and her work place, and through her God was able to reach into and transform one of the least reached places on earth, the 9 to 5 window!  Where is God calling you to take responsibility?

 

Please see my new book 'Transform your work life:  Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling' for more information, practical ideas, and inspiring stories, of how people have found blessing - and become a greater blessing, during their work life.

Please join the facebook page for 'Transform your work life' here to interact with other Christians in the workplace and keep up to date with news about the book.

Tuesday
Apr062010

Taking Jesus to work... Transform your work life!

Recently I was speaking to a friend about his work.  I could see that he was frustrated and worn out and I had been trying to encourage him to see how God could use him just where he was.  Somewhere along the line of our conversation he said, ‘I live for the weekends! I dread going to work on Monday, and when I’m at work I count the hours until it is Friday.  If I didn’t need the money I would stop working’.  As I was driving back to my office later that morning I thought, ‘how sad that he is wishing away most of his life! Surely there must be something more meaningful to your work-life than just hanging in there for a paycheck!’

I’m sure that there are many people who live for the weekend, and many more who simply work because they need the money!  The good news is that you don’t have to wish most of your life away.  God has a wonderful plan to make what you do from Monday to Friday one of the most fulfilling and exhilarating parts of your week. 

Look at this quote from Ed Silvoso:

Most Christians who on Sundays worship God to the tune of inspiring music fail to see that what they do during the week is also meant by God to be worship’ Ed Silvoso

And then there's this verse:

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. – Colossians 3:23-24

In this episode of my radio program - The Ministry and Me (for Radio Pulpit) I discuss the notion of 'taking Jesus to work with you'.  You can download a copy of the audio from here (10MB MP3).

The recording is actually based on a chapter of a new book that Graham Power and I have written together called ‘Transform your work life:  Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling’ - the whole book is about serving Jesus in your work life and in your work place.  It is currently being printed and will be launched at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on the 21st of May - if you're interested in attending the book launch as part of the Global Day of Prayer conference please drop me a line or leave a comment below.

In this episode we discuss the clear and simple principles of serving Jesus where you are right now, without missing the opportunities that God is giving you.  I share some clear and practical examples (mainly testimony from Graham Power’s life, and also some lessons that we’ve learnt in our company).

As always I'd love to hear your feedback, insights!  Please just leave a comment in the comment section below.

Also, if you'd like to be kept up to date on developments with the new book, or enter into some discussion on the book or the concept of ministry in your work life please join the facebook page for 'Transform your work life'.

 

Wednesday
Mar312010

Work as worship - confronting the powerful, caring for the poor

A regular commentor on my blog (thanks Thomas!) left a comment on my post from yesterday.  Here's Thomas' comment:

Hello Dion, On the one hand, I like the holism of your theology. On the other hand, I feel that it does not do justice to the oppressed, from an existential point of view. It offers hope for the future. Yet (to advance just one aspect of this) statistically, hope across the globe fades in so many ways. That is one of the major stumbling-blocks for me. You ain't where the oppressed is, in this moment. Perhaps you could address this in a post sometime.

If I have understood Thomas' concern it is that an approach to 'work as worship' such as the one I espoused in my previous post tends towards addressing the powerful and rich at the expsense of caring for the poor.  If that was the case I would share Thomas' concern!

However, I contend that my theology does not advocate that at all.  Here are a few thoughts that underly my understanding of using our work life as worship in relation to the wealthy, powerful, and the poor.

1.  I agree wholeheartedly that ministry cannot be responsible unless it addresses the plight of the poor.  However, it is a mistake to think that such an orientation, i.e., and orientation towards the poor, must be at the exclusion of addressing the causes of poverty (most often greed among the powerful and rich).

2.  I would say that it is not realistic that every person should be expected to do ministry in all spheres of society all the time.  Thomas, what you may not know is that I served as a minister in South Africa's townships at various stages of my ministry as a Methodist minister (some of these periods were before 1994).  Moreover, I still continue to seek to address and overcome systemic poverty in the role that I currently hold.  I administer two large charitable trusts that do work, and fund work, in economic empowerment, food security, caring for HIV infected persons, caring for AIDS orphans etc.  This probably takes up about a third of my ministry time each week.

3.  If you agree with point 2 above, i.e., that we can't all be expected to minister in all places with equal intention and intensity; or at all levels of society at all times, then the following point needs to be accepted - namely, those who have significant access to the poor (and the systems that abuse and enslave the poor) must effectively and responsibly operate in that area.  But, that would also assume that those who have access to persons in power and access to systems that are powerful in society must engage those systems powerfully and effectively to work for the establishment of Christ's gracious Kingdom of Justice and love from that perspective.

So, if my daily work puts me in place with the poor directly it is likely that my primary ministry activity will be in that space.  However, if my daily work puts me in touch with society and power at another level then I must engage creatively and intentionally for Christ at that level (of course not exclusively!  We must all seek to address various levels of society at various times and in various ways).

I currently have that privilege (and responsibility) because of the ministry position I hold and possibly because of previous publications, research etc.  So, I think that it would irresponsible for me NOT to address the powerful, and systems of power, when I have a chance to do so!

I address this and a few other issues related to wealth, poverty, and ministry through work (and at work) in my new book 'Transform your work life:  Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling'.

That being said, I hear that persons such as myself must always remember why we engage powerful persons and systems - it is for the sake of establishing God's Kingdom that includes all persons.

I have found the following quote from Henri Nouwen quite encouraging (please see the bit in bold if you don't feel like reading the whole quote):

 

Honest direct confrontation is a true expressionof compassion.  As Christians, we are in the world without being of it.  It is precisely this position that renders confrontation possible and necessary.  The illusion of power must be unmasked, idolatry must be undone, oppression and exploitation must be fought, and all who participate in these evils must be confronted.  This is compassion.  

We cannot suffer with the poor when we are unwilling to confront those persons and systems that cause poverty.  We cannot set the captives free when we do not want to confront those who carry the keys.  We cannot profess our solidarity with those who are opressed when we are unwilling to confront the opressor. Compassion without confrontation fades quickly into fruitless sentimental commiseration.

But if confrontation is to be an expression of patient action, it must be humble. Our constant temptation is to fall into self-righteous revenge or self-serving condemnation.  The danger hers is that our own witness can blind us.  When confrontation is tainted by desire for attention, need for revenge, or greed for power, it can easily become self-serving and cease to be compassionate.  - From Compassion: A reflection on the Christian life by Donald McNeill, Douglas Morrison and Henri Nouwen.

I'd love to hear any feedback, and always appreciate constructive input, words of caution and insights that can help to see the Kingdom of Jesus established at every level of society!

Well, to change tack, I am back in South Africa.  We landed this morning after a great flight from Hong Kong.  I am waiting to board my connecting flight to Cape Town.  I have to do a little work this afternoon, but I'm on leave for the following 5 days with my wonderful family!!  Praise be to God!

Tuesday
Mar302010

Using your worklife for God's purposes

I have only a few hours left in Hong Kong. Had an incredible meeting about energy technologies to help to heal the earth at Hong Kong City University!

Christians have a responsibility to use their gifts, talents and ability to see that God's will for the earth is done! The Professor of Electrical Engineering we met today is such a great example of someone who takes Col 3.23 seriously! He uses his position and talents to 'redeem' the earth, making life better for people and stewarding the resources of the earth more carefully.

This is the kind of person that I meet from time to time who truly inspires me. He is so creative about using what he is already doing in order to honour God! I think too many of us are waiting for a different place or time, or environment to serve God. Perhaps we miss many opportunities when we stop asking God to show us what we can do to encounter both people and structures with God's transforming love during our working hours.