Why your workplace must be a ministry

In June, The Lausanne Movement held its Global Workplace Forum in Manila, Philippines. Of all the things I’ve been involved in during my career with missional organizations, I think this is one of the most likely events to go down in church history, still talked about decades from now.

The Lausanne Movement was started by Billy Graham with The International Congress on World Evangelization in 1974 in Lausanne, Switzerland. It resulted in The Lausanne Covenant, a highly influential document drafted by theologian John Stott.

Two of the things most talked about from that event and the covenant were: 1) a mandate for evangelicals to be involved in social action, and 2) the concept of unreached people groups. It’s hard to imagine how different the world is today from the time when Christians thought social action was something for the liberal church to do, while more conservative believers focused on evangelism. It’s equally hard to imagine missions today without the concept of unreached people groups.

There have been two more congresses since 1974 — Manila 1989 and Cape Town 2010. The Cape Town Commitment, drafted by Stott’s successor, Chris Wright, explains the clearest thinking at that time about a theology of love and an agenda for the church in this decade.

I was honored to be asked to lead the communications for the Cape Town Congress and have remained involved as Chair of the Communications Working Group since the congress. I’ve been delighted to watch Lausanne steadily gain momentum through this last decade. And Masterworks has been a proud advocate of the Movement.

Why do I think this latest meeting in Manila is historic? Because it is the first time Lausanne has reached beyond church and parachurch leaders and called on workplace leaders in government, media, academia and business to embrace their role in world evangelization.

In the words of Lausanne’s CEO, Michael Oh, “The 1% of those who are in professional ministry will never reach the world with the Gospel. The 1% cannot make disciples of all nations . . . Every Christian, including the 99% who are not in professional Christian ministry, has a ministry.”

“You may not be a minister or a missionary, but you have a ministry.”

— Michael Oh, CEO of the Lausanne Movement.

Originally the event was planned for 200-250 participants. But when Lausanne put out the word, more than 4,000 people were nominated, with 2,000 applying. With such demand, it was clear there was a hunger and momentum for a gathering like this. It quickly expanded to accommodate every leader possible.

The venue was stretched to capacity, and 850 people from 109 nations gathered in Manila and virtually. Two-thirds were from the workplace. The event enthusiastically embraced the role of workplace leaders in furthering the Great Commission. There was also much helpful reflection on the false dichotomy of the secular/sacred divide and the fact that all work can be sacred if we follow God in it.

If you’d like to know more, you can read the following article on the Lausanne website.

Christians at Work—The Missing Link in Fulfilling the Great Commission” Lausanne Movement, June 29, 2019

And here is a 7-minute video summarizing the highlights of the event:

Masterworks is pleased to have played a part in the Lausanne Movement since 2007. We’re excited to see the fruit in the years ahead. If you want to stay connected to the latest thinking in global missions, subscribe to the Lausanne Global Analysis.