Expert Lauds At Work on Purpose for Expansion of Faith-at-Work Message

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At Work on Purpose is expanding its faith-at-work ministry into Dayton, Dallas and Nairobi, Kenya. Hugh Whelchel, executive director of the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics in Washington, D.C., addressed its annual leadership conference and called for working Christians to re-weave 'shalom' into communities by connecting their faith and work lives and ministering to others' needs.

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From left: Chuck Proudfit, founder and president of At Work on Purpose, and Hugh Whelchel, director of the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics in Washington, D.C. (Oak Tree Communications Photo)

“Our growth is organic. We’re encouraging everyone to become faith-active at work, connect communities and empower them to dream together.”

God has tasked Christians to re-weave ‘shalom,’ into communities through the work that they do, said the director of a national faith-at-work institute to At Work on Purpose (AWOP) leaders at its annual leadership summit.

Hugh Whelchel, executive director of the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics in Washington, D.C., told about 150 Cincinnati AWOP leaders on July 10 that what Christians do in their lives at work matters in these four areas: church, family, community and vocation. He spoke at Grace Chapel in Mason, Ohio.

He complimented AWOP on its commitment and willingness to share its knowledge with working Christians in other cities around the nation and world.

AWOP programs are expanding into Dayton, Dallas and Nairobi, Kenya.

Whelchel has led a seminary, worked in sales, became a turnaround expert and launched the institute four years ago. He is the author of the book, How Then Should We Work? Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work (WestBow Press, 2012).

He said there is a tendency today to equate the word ‘stewardship’ with a financial donation, but the word really means ‘to be faithful and efficient in the management of resources or property or resources belonging to another.’

“Why did God create all of this?” he asked. “He did it for one reason: that he might be glorified. You can compare it to the masterpiece being a reflection of the glory of the artist.”

Whelchel said that in American culture, people believe they should be independent, not co-dependent. “But God has called us to a third way: interdependence,” he said. “God’s original desire was for this creation to flourish. You cannot go out and flourish by yourself. Our responsibility is to live by that trust according to God’s design and desire.”

Whelchel said the author J.R. R. Tolkien called man “sub-creators.”

Man makes something out of something, Whelchel said. That imitation of creation reflects man's responsibility and desire “to achieve and be good stewards of all that has been given to us—all of which is done in community with men and women committed to the idea of ‘shalom.’

“While we may think of the word ‘shalom’ as a universal blessing that means ‘peace,’ that is too weak of a translation,” said Whelchel. “It means, ‘the way God intended things to be.’”

Whelchel suggested man work to restore shalom-- the way the world was before the fall of man, when sin entered the world—by expanding areas of influence to make shalom visible and give the world a glimpse of what it should be like.

AWOP is doing that, he added, because AWOP is doing what God has called Christians to do.

The nonprofit has 8,000 members in greater Cincinnati and is the nation’s largest, citywide marketplace ministry.

AWOP’s Citywide Marketplace Ministries organization tool kit and Mission2Monday program allow city leaders around the world to implement AWOPs in their own communities.

Its mentoring program with Cincinnati Christian University matches a sophomore business student with a Christian businessperson to provide guidance and purpose as young people begin their careers.

Chuck Proudfit, AWOP president and founder, traveled to Nairobi in June and taught entrepreneurs there how to form and sustain marketplace ministry, or BIZNISTRY® businesses.

“We want to help other cities embark on a journey like we have,” said Proudfit, “in a way that allows people to express and meet the felt needs of their communities.”

The Dayton AWOP program is uniting the Protestant and Roman Catholic communities, he said. “Our growth is organic. We’re encouraging everyone to become faith-active at work, connect communities and empower them to dream together.”

Proudfit said he found Kenyan faith-at-work statistics to be similar to Americans’ when it came to being faith-active at work. “At least 60 to 70 percent of the population there are Christian, but only one to five percent integrate their faiths at work—like our country,” said Proudfit.

The Dallas AWOP group is still in its infancy, he added.

Terry Grear, president of ScrogginsGrear Consultants and CPAs, Inc. guided small group presentations by AWOP attendees tasked to resolve three ethical dilemmas at work. In each case study, positive results or wisdom to accept negative results eventually occurred after contemplation, prayer and attempts to communicate with co-workers or management.

“We are tasked with transforming our ministry into movement,” said Grear. “How can we have Christ come alive in us so we can be with him at work?”

Steve Simpson, a former P&G manager, who is now retired, said not receiving a coveted promotion in mid-career allowed him to see where God wanted him to be for the remainder of his career and to mentor those he managed.

“It allowed me to get off the treadmill, honor the Lord and to be a believer and to bless others,” he said.

AWOP has seven monthly business roundtable groups, or “collaboratories” in Cincinnati. Those interested can contact Laura Jackson at (513) 477-2652. It has offices in Blue Ash and Mason, Ohio.

For more information about AWOP programs, its faith-at-work tools and events, and go to http://www.atworkonpurpose.org or call (800) 513-9580.

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Contact: Laura Jackson
Phone: (513) 477-2652

About At Work on Purpose:

At Work on Purpose is the nation's largest, city-wide, marketplace ministry. Based in Cincinnati, the nonprofit organization helps working Christians mobilize the work world for Christ by offering inspiring and proactive ways to help them integrate faith into their work, transforming their jobs into platforms for ministry.

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Laura Jackson
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