All of Life Slide

How do we begin to bring our work into worship? Won’t it be awkward? Will people even want to talk about what they do? What happens if you hate your job? How is this actually going to be a part of our corporate worship and why does it matter?

Worship for Workers was blessed to meet Pastor Artie Lindsay and Operations Administrator, Jake Lang at a seminar this summer. They serve at Tabernacle Community Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan – a church whose guiding principle states: “The ultimate measure of our effectiveness as a church is not what happens inside the building, but rather the impact the people of our congregation have on their communities and the world.” Vocationally-conversant language is spoken fluently; not only in their worship and preaching, but in their mission and discipleship. The congregation’s vocational mission fields shape the church’s larger mission field. 

Below you will find one of the many different practices Tabernacle Church engages in their worship services. They have drawn many resources from our partners at Made to Flourish and these interviews were inspired by a handbook called “Discipleship with Monday in Mind.” We hope this leader’s guide will pique your curiosity about how you could incorporate something similar into your own context. 

All of Life Leader’s Guide

We believe that “all of life is all for Jesus”. In order to demonstrate this reality to our congregation, we added “All of Life Interviews” to our weekly liturgy. During these interviews, we ask 3-4 questions to various congregants about how they live out their faith in the various parts of God’s world. We have a special emphasis on the occupations of congregants, because this is where they spend most of their time, but we occasionally have interviews with leaders of ministries within the church or about a congregant’s volunteer activities.  The interviews typically last for 7-10 minutes and are concluded by having everyone in the congregation who works in a similar field stand up or raise their hands, and then we pray for them as a congregation.  We typically do these interviews live on stage, but have done some pre-recorded as well. The timing is generally something like this: 

  • 1-2 minutes – Introduction (why do we do this, why is it important, who are we interviewing) 
  • 6-8 minutes – Interview 
  • 2 minutes – Closing Prayer/Commissioning 

We try to meet with interviewees 2-4 weeks before their interview for lunch. We will share a meal, discuss the questions, and provide some coaching on the answers if needed. If possible, we eat near their place of employment and after lunch tour their workplace and meet some coworkers. Finally, we give them the opportunity to meet early on the Sunday of their interview to do a practice run. 

Goals: 

1) To shape our congregation to acknowledge and respond to the Lordship of Christ over all of life. 

2) To affirm the goodness of a broad range of vocations as opportunities to glorify God and love our neighbors. 

3) To build connections between congregants in similar fields. 

4) To lead our congregation in broadening the scope of our prayer life.

Kizombo All of Life

Interview Questions 

While there can be some customization, these are the basic four questions we ask for the All of Life Interviews. We find that there’s value in repeating the same questions each week, because of the cumulative effect of hearing these questions on a regular basis. 

Question #1: “ How would you describe your vocation?” “What will you be doing this time tomorrow?” or “Can you describe a day in the life for you as a __________” 

This question gives us a snapshot into the daily life of the interviewee. It often builds common ground between the interviewee and others within the congregation, even if they don’t work in the same field. For example, an engineer and an administrative assistant may have similar tasks as they work to bring order to a chaotic workspace. 

Question #2: “As an image-bearer of God, how does your work reflect some aspect of God’s work?” 

The goal of this question is to ground the importance of work in the character and activity of God, and to frame our work as an act of “image-bearing”. Therefore, we ask the interviewee to directly connect their work to some specific aspect of God’s work (creating, restoring, healing, etc.) 

Thriving Cities has provided these six helpful categories of God’s work that provide a helpful framework: 

  • The True (the realm of human knowledge and learning) 
  • The Good (the realm of social mores and ethics) 
  • The Beautiful (the realm of aesthetics, design, and the arts) 
  • The Prosperous (the realm of economic life) 
  • The Just and Well-Ordered (the realm of political and civic affairs) 
  • The Sustainable (the realm of natural and physical health) 

It’s easy for people to see the extrinsic value of work when it creates opportunities for social interactions, verbal witness, or direct service to people. However, we think it’s vital that our congregation sees the intrinsic value of their work, the reality that work is good, because God is a good worker and created us to work. We want to show the congregation that work is an opportunity to glorify God by reflecting his image. 

Question #3: “How does your work give you a unique vantage point into the brokenness of the world?”

The goal of this question is to give people a dose of reality. We work in a fallen world, and each occupation will have its unique hardships. Each field comes with its own types of thorns and thistles — social strife, ethical dilemmas, physical pain, etc. 

This question is important because many people subconsciously believe that their vocation should always be fun and fulfilling, often assuming that the presence of pain and struggle invalidates the goodness of the work. We want to communicate that all work has its struggles and complexities in a broken world. 

Question # 4: “What spiritual practices have you developed to sustain you in this work?” 

The idea behind this question is to get people to dig deeper and think more creatively around what it looks like to exercise their faith in their workplace and in a way that influences them and the work they are doing. So I try to help prompt people to think deeper without making up a practice. 

For example, a lot of believers pray about difficulties at work, but maybe a doctor, nurse, or counselor would take a brief minute before each patient to pray for wisdom and healing. Maybe someone follows a specific routine of praying over their coworkers, customers or clients on their commute. 

The goal is to help expand the imagination of those in the congregation of what spiritual disciplines can look like in the workplace. 

Important Things to Remember: 

  1. The congregation is shaped by the cumulative effect of the interviews rather than the content of any single interview. 
Alaina All of Life Prayer
  1. Diversity is important. If we only interview people with high-paying, white-collar jobs, it will begin to de-value blue-collar workers. The same goes for age, gender, and types of occupations. It’s impossible to represent everyone in the congregation, but it’s very possible to show the congregation a large sampling of jobs, ages, and ethnic backgrounds through the interviews. 
  2. Be careful of your language. Avoid terms like “full time ministry” and “sacred/secular” that make church work seem more important than non church work. Also watch language that naturally positions some work as higher than other work (i.e. “We care about all work from the CEO to the Janitor). 
  3. Meet with the interviewee in-person prior to the interview to help them think through the questions, even if you know them well. Don’t view this as a waste of time. It’s actually a great opportunity for vocational discipleship. 
  4. Be sure to discuss the dynamics of the stage with the interviewee, such as how to hold the microphone, where to stand, where to look, and how long to speak. It’s often helpful to have them rehearse the interview with you.
  5. Don’t let it become a commercial. It’s not a bad thing if an interviewee makes some business connections due to the interview, but that’s not the purpose of the interview. Most people are inundated with advertisements and sales pitches, and this will detract from the goals of the interview.