Christian, is your workshop/office the setting of your missionary efforts?

Ronald Hock, in an article entitled The Workshop as a Social Setting for Paul’s Missionary Preaching (in the Catholic Biblical Quarterly 41.3 (1979), pp. 438-450), argues persuasively that Paul used his tentmaking workshop not merely as a means of making money to support himself during his missionary journeys so that he could preach elsewhere, but as one of the locations at which he spoke about Jesus and the church to Greeks and Jews. The article raises the issue of how Christians – particularly those who own their own business or have “workshops” into which customers enter – might redeem the time and use their vocational settings to share Christ.

As I think back over the course of my short 39 year lifespan, it seems we’ve perhaps transitioned from people using their workspaces to evangelize (often at the expense of their work, even stealing from their boss/company) to only valuing work for work’s sake – seeking to witness through the excellence of their labor. It seems rather that this is another example of the both/and of the Christian experience. On the one hand, as Christians we need to work while we’re at work, we need to work to the glory of God and the good of those around us, we need to do good work in service to our customers and submission to our bosses. On the other hand, we need to recognize the fact that we are around unbelievers at work, and we don’t need to shy away from opening our mouths to speak about Christ with them. As they see our work ethic, our desire for excellence and beauty, they may ask us the source of it. Or they may not – in which case we must remain silent, but speak boldly about Christ the hope of glory and the only Savior of sinners.

Imitate Paul – not only in working diligently to support yourself and your family (cf. I and II Thessalonians), but also in using your workshop as a place in which you joyfully speak of Christ your Lord and Savior. Be wise, and make the most of every opportunity (Col. 4:5-6).

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