So I promise I'll introduce myself properly, but first, a story.
When I finished High School, I got connected with a College Campus Ministry group called Chi Alpha. A family friend and our interim youth pastor at the time, Bill, was a Chi Alpha campus pastor at the time, and the thing about Bill was he just decided I was going to the winter conference, to the weekly meetings, to the thing, the other thing etc etc. I was a kid with absolutely no direction, and the presence of exceedingly strong direction was more of a gravitational pull for me at the time than it might have been at other times. I ended up serving with Chi Alpha in various capacities for five to six years after that, depending on how you count, and I mention it for two reasons. One, the experience is probably what branded me with the vocation of missionary, and two, the name Chi Alpha has an interesting provenance.
At least, it's interesting to me.
If you go back fifty years or so, the group that's now called Chi Alpha used to be called “Christ's Ambassadors”, drawing their name from one scripture in particular;
2 Corinthians 5:20 (CSB) Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.”
The phrase “We are ambassadors for Christ” has lodged itself into my brain ever since. Even as I exited my internship with Chi Alpha and, like a lot of my peers finishing their first ministry internship, left the hope of making a living as a minister behind.
I've met a lot of people my age who had every hope and expectation that if they just showed up and tried their hardest, did their best and dedicated their lives to serving the church, that there would be a job for them out there. Maybe not necessarily one right away, or even soon, but my ship will come in eventually. I have come to believe that, at least in the bible belt midwest, that supply of talented worship leaders and committed staff pastors vastly outstrips the demand, even in large cities. Sure, you might be able to find a place to serve, they just can't pay you anything. You're still going to need a Day Job.
That desire to serve the church, to respond to the call to ministry, and the tension that desire generates with the “real life” necessity of that day job, is what this blog is trying to address. I think that day job, that thing that feels like a functional and unwelcome distraction from your real calling, to serve the church in the church building, actually represents the call of God for this season of your life, if you only have the ears to hear. I want to validate, celebrate and play a part in equipping you for the vocation of Missionary to the Workplace.
Demographically, the vast majority of church attendants and members serve the church as what I have heard called from the pulpit “Missionaries to the Workplace”. “You will talk to people every day that will never give a hoot what the pastor has to say”, the line goes. “You have unique opportunities that nobody else here has to share and spread the Gospel”. Here's the thing though, we don't really take this call seriously in the church, not as seriously as “International Missionary”, “Lead Pastor”, “Bible School Professor”. Those callings get graduate degrees, the Workplace Missionary gets a Sunday School class if they're lucky. It can be hard to not feel disappointed with the whammy prize of “Workplace Missionary”, especially if you went and got one of those graduate degrees for one of those other callings!
I, too, often find that God's calling looks different than I expect it to. I didn't spend any time in my education years preparing for the possibility that I might be selling backpacks for a living, looking and trying to find out how I can serve as Christ's Ambassador to my workplace, and help others do the same. And, all the same, here you are and here am I.
My name is Sam Drake, and I've served as a Missionary to the Workplace for more than ten years. In that time, I've also served as an Associate Campus Missionary, Core Member of a Church Plant and, very briefly, as Lead Pastor of that church before we closed. I'm writing a book on how to begin to take the call to Workplace Missions seriously in your own life, and this blog is part of that effort. Whether you're here at the beginning, or you're coming upon this post a long while from now, I hope we can learn something from each other. I'll see you tomorrow.