9/06/2007

A "Commissioning Service" for everyone in every line of work

It is my contention that we need to get beyond the false secular/sacred dichotomy that is so prevalent in the church today. One glaring way we create this false dualism is in saying that pastors and missionaries are the ones "called" to ministry. This creates the presumption that all the rest of us are simply working at our jobs. And underlying that is the presumption is that those not in "full-time Christian vocation" are doing something less than spiritual. Maybe their main purpose is to make money so that they can financially support those with the high call of ministry. It is not often that somebody comes right out and says these things, but they are our presumptions.

And they are ridiculous.

Every Christian is in "full-time ministry," no matter what they are doing, no matter what it says on their business card, no matter if they punch a time clock or are on salary, no matter if they are doing technical work or people work, no matter if they are paid or a volunteer, no matter if they work for their boss or for their family as a housekeeper.

Every line of work, no matter what it is, is full-time ministry. Because every line of work needs to be transformed into a calling from God to fulfill the cultural mandate of Genesis 1 & 2. Our first command from God is to create culture - "to fill the earth and subdue it, to work it and take care of it" (see Gen 1:26-28; 2:15 below).

My proposal, then, is this: Instead of having "Commissioning Services" only for pastors and missionaries, local congregations should, on a very regular basis, offer commissioning services for every single Christian in the marketplace. Pastors need to see the workplace as the greatest opportunity for the gospel to shine, as Christians work to transform their workplaces and vocations into that which is reflective of God's Kingdom. Pastors talk a lot about "equipping the saints," and yet when was the last time a pastor visited the people he is shepherding at their workplaces, encouraging them to live out the gospel there, helping them to make the connection between Sunday and Monday?

Here, then, is a "Commissioning Service" that local churches can begin using on a regular basis to create a missional mindset toward vocation.

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Commissioning Service

Opening Prayer
“Lord, Redeemer of all, we commit ourselves to the call to be your people, going into all the earth to proclaim that you are King of kings and Lord of lords, bringing harmony and flourishing back to your good creation. We do this for your glory, Amen.”

Scripture Reading
Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule… So God created human beings in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground”...The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:15)

Commissioning
Leader: As those who have committed to following Christ’s call on your lives, will you allow the expression of your personality and the exercise of your spiritual gifts and your natural talents to be directed and empowered for the glory of Jesus Christ as Lord?
Everyone: With God as our help, we will.
Leader: Will you obey the command of the cultural mandate to have dominion over the earth, to work it and take care of it, fulfilling your image-bearing ability to create from that which was created for God’s glory?
Everyone: With God as our help, we will.
Leader: Will you be used by God to transform your vocation so that it reflects God’s Kingdom values in its service to humanity and in its role of cultivating the world’s resources?
Everyone: With God as our help, we will.
Leader: Will you encourage one another toward seeing your work as more than “a job” or “a paycheck,” but as the very means by which God is redeeming the world through His people?
Everyone: With God as our help, we will.
Leader: Will you always give yourselves fully to your work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain?
Everyone: With God as our help, we will.
Leader: Will you work six days and then take a Sabbath day’s rest, trusting in God’s provision and viewing work as part of the rhythm of a holistic life of worship, with no secular/sacred dichotomy?
Everyone: With God as our help, we will.
Leader: In whatever you do, will you work at it with all your heart, because you are actually working for the Lord, not just for human leaders?
Everyone: With God as our help, we will.

Scripture Reading
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1Corinthians 10:31)

Closing Prayer
Lord, we know that our work really, truly matters. All that we do for your glory will last and will be transformed by your purifying fire when we enter the new heavens and the new earth. Thank you for our calling. We want you to show us how you meant things to be, how things are fallen, and how you intend to transform them. And we want to know what you want us to do in our work lives so that we can be agents of your redemption of all things. Your kingdom come and will be done, here on earth as it is in heaven—especially in our vocations. We seek to glorify you in all that we do. Amen.


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10 comments:

joe said...

its funny you brought this up bob. we are sending about 8 short term missionaries out from our church this fall. most of which are straight out of high school. we created such a hype around them that i am afraid we have pushed aside our college students and graduates going into the labor force.

i shared with our young people that as we send out these missionaries that we are all snet out. sent out to our homes, workm and play. called to be salt & light to our world around us. i like that commissioning service. well done.

did you create that?

Bob Robinson said...

Joe,

Yes, I created this. Good for you for realizing the disconnect even in the midst of church ministry!

Ted M. Gossard said...

I like this, Bob. Everyone of us needs to believe and understand this and this is a good way to not only make the point, but to make it a part of who we are as individuals and as churches.

Amen.

Bob Robinson said...

Thanks, Ted.

One of the biggest issues I see in today's church is that we have done poor job of helping people connect Sunday to Monday.

How would this change if we had this kind of commissioning service every six months - how would we become more missional?

Adam Gonnerman said...

The Commissioning Service was good! I've already saved it as a doc file, and will print it and stick it in my minister's manual for future use.

Anonymous said...

Amen Bob! How are you doing?

Jefferson

Pastor Scott said...

Thank you Bob! We are wrapping up a 5-week series on work this Sunday and are culminating the series with a service commissioning people to their jobs. I jumped on the internet for a few ideas, and I will definitely be incorporating some of your liturgy.
Scott Hardaway
Pathway Community Church
Jackson, MI
www.pathwaywired.com

Pastor Scott said...

Thank you Bob! We are wrapping up a 5-week series on work this Sunday and are culminating the series with a service commissioning people to their jobs. I jumped on the internet for a few ideas, and I will definitely be incorporating some of your liturgy.
Scott Hardaway
Pathway Community Church
Jackson, MI
www.pathwaywired.com

Kari Sullivan said...

I would like to do something like this with the 5th graders as they leave the children's ministry. I've been thinking about it for a long time, but the word "commissioning" in the church carries so much missionary connection. I want them to focus here and now to use theiir gifts and talents to reach the community and to support the church. Does anyone do something for kids?

Bob Robinson said...

Kari-
Perhaps you can use "dedication service" instead. I don't know of anybody who has designed such a thing for kids, though.