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Guest Post by Justin David Buzzarda pastor in the Bay area that is getting ready to plant a new church in Phoenix. Its incredibly encouraging to see a pastor affirm his people serving outside the walls of the church. You can read more from Justin at www.buzzardblog.com.

Pastors, go to where your men work.

During my past 4 years as a pastor in the Bay Area I quickly discovered that one of the most important things for me to do was to hang out with men in my church at their workplace.

This helped the men. It showed them that I care about their callings, how they spend 50+ hours of their week, and the people they work with.

This helped me. It taught me about the unique opportunities & challenges men were facing in their different workplaces, it opened my eyes to a world bigger than our church, and it helped set new trajectories for my preaching and discipling.

This is how I did it (and how I will continue doing it once I get started in Phoenix):

-Schedule a lunch-time visit with a man in your church. The best use of your time is to make most of these visits with men who are leader types. Schedule to meet the guy at his office, not at the lunch spot.

-Once you show up have the guy show you around his workspace. If you’re naturally curious like me, you’ll quickly have 20 questions about all that you’re seeing around you. Ask your questions. Learn the man’s world.

-Introduce yourself to his co-workers. Don’t tell people you’re a pastor, unless asked or introduced that way. They will find out eventually and they’ll be incredibly surprised that a pastor looks and talks like a normal person and doesn’t spend all his time on church property.

-Once you get the tour, take the man out to lunch (if there’s a lunch place on the work campus, go there, it will lead to more learning about the workplace) and let him talk to you at length about his work. You’ll quickly discover how you can best encourage and empower the man in his calling.

-Always speak out against the “higher calling of ministry” idea if it surfaces. Three out of five times when I meet a man at his work he talks to me about how the work I’m doing as a pastor is “so much more important” than what he’s doing as a software engineer, financial analyst, etc. I always immediately crush and correct this unbiblical view of vocation. Your men need you to tell them that all work is a means of glorifying God, and that working for a church is not superior to working for Google. It’s your job to empower your men, to help them see the nobility of the work God has called them to do.

Men need pastors to jump into the fire of their work world with them and empower them to keep their eyes on Jesus and do their work in Jesus’ honor, whatever that work might be.

Also, at least for me, doing this is a whole lot of fun. It’s been a blast visiting men at their work here in the Bay Area. I’ve been able to see:

-The financial analysis &  game development sector at Electronic Arts.

-The inner workings of a Secret Service office.

-A two-person flower shop in the financial district of San Francisco.

-A small architect firm’s hip office quarters.

-A contractor’s truck-office.

-The sprawling, impressive campus at Google.

-Several software companies who do things I still don’t fully understand.

-The venture capital world on Sand Hill Road.

-Several impressive work-from-home offices.

-(And when I didn’t have a man working there, AnneMarie gave me a great tour of Facebook).

Pastors, if you’re not already doing something like this, start incorporating it into your schedule. I think you should aim for a minimum of 1 workplace visit per week. Doing this is part of what keeps my calling fresh and alive, and what keeps me connected to men and the larger working world.

And make sure you budget for this. This is just as important as your book budget. Budget funds to cover meals and mileage for these crucial visits.

(PS. I’ve written this post from an architect/contractor’s home office)

Photo: Took this shot last week of Boston firefighters fighting a 3 alarm fire in Beacon Hill.

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posted by Justin Forman | 8.04.2010 - 7:56 AM


Sure i has work for this Pastor, however what do you do when your leaders work in construction, a shop or a production environment? Definitely hang up with you people outside the church walls, be sensitive to the real world, how about working on their side, instead of just visiting from time to time?
commented by Blogger Pastor JLG, 9:42 AM  

Loved this post and wholeheartedly agree! I do have this question though: how might women in the workplace be encouraged and empowered too?
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 10:59 AM  

Women are conspicuously absent from this article.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 8:46 AM  

Excellent blog post! I think most of us tend to think that the calling to ministry is a "higher calling" - it would very impactful to me if my pastor wanted to come to my home office and watch me juggle four kids and run a business at the same time!
commented by Blogger Lauren Hunter, 11:33 AM  

I am trying to decide why this statement bothers me: "The best use of your time is to make most of these visits with men who are leader types"
commented by Blogger Debbie Atteberry, 8:36 PM  

Hi, I am not a pastor nor an elder, but I get your points & the useful hints delivered definitely may perhaps help me to apply it to my daily relations with my staffs at our workplace. It could be put into practice & even apply it to our customers & church members. Great idea....
commented by Anonymous irene, 9:14 PM  

I think this is a great form of discipleship. I completely agree with the idea of focusing on "unlabeled" leaders. One idea is for them to become disciplers themselves and a pastor has to focus his time to be most effective. Also, seeing as the article is written by a man it would be completely unappropriate for him to suggest visiting a female parishioner at her work or having lunch with her. Thanks for an original idea.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 9:17 PM  

It's about time a pastor started 'getting it'. I will say that my boss would frown on bringing anyone in to the workplace however. What I do on my lunch hour is my business but if my lunch will be on the property, certainly we cannot bring in the 'gang'. Regardless, back to the point. It is easy for a pastor to tell his congregation how to be in the work place. Our pastor has even stated that if our witness at work causes us to get fired..so be it. I guess he has not read his Bible through. I believe we are to be harmess as doves...I believe we are to honor our boss and work for our pay...I believe we are to support our families. I believe there is a time and a place for everything, but his comment highlights how out of touch he is with regard to working in the world. Our pastor has everything he could want paid for. He lives in a house much too large for a family of 4. He eats out in a week more than our family does in 2-3 months. His insurance is paid for. His gasoline is paid for. His books are paid for. Self-development conferences are paid for. His house payment is paid for. His utilities are paid for. He is clueless. I have a better idea...have a pastor work a 50-hour week, be responsible for buying the gas, the insurance, the food...for just a week, and see how he relates. Few pastors know the pressures of working 40-60 hours a week...the labor...the permission to take off...the commute...the politics at the workplace, making the Wednesday night service, the Sunday morning and Sunday night service, etc. Going to church is the pastor's 'job'. For us, going to church is IN ADDITION TO our job. Then that worker must budget his time to allow time for family, for Bible study, for duties outside the home. Pastors can read their Bible on the job. The world cannot, for instance. Your idea is getting close to the issue at hand, and that is that 90% of our pastors in America could NEVER MAKE IT IN THE WORK PLACE.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 11:06 PM  

The word "men" is mentioned 11 times in this blog entry. No mention of women. As much as I agree with this blog, I don't think it's thought-out enough.

Someone commented that it's inappropriate for a male pastor to visit female parishioners at work. I'm sorry, but that's a very short-sighted answer. Find another strategy that doesn't cross lines. (Bring an elder along. Bring the wife along. Meet with 2 businesswomen at the same time.)

There are thousands of God-fearing women in the workplace going through the same struggles that their male counterparts do. Rather than dismissing that entire population, let's recognize that working women do good work and they need encouragement too.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 3:22 AM  


There are lies out there that we've bought into over time.

1) That worship only happens on Sunday. And that somehow this compartmentalization of our faith has led to this enormous divide between Sunday and Monday.

2) That somehow we think there is this spiritual hierarchy that exists and over time we've neglected the area of business.

Sit down with many people who work in the business world and go to church and you can hear a sense of exhaustion. A lack of affirmation from the church.

And here we have one of the best, simple messages of encouragement. Affirmation and a rally cry from one pastor to fellow pastors to get out there and validate the calling God has place on the lives of business people.

Instead of praising such a bold step, someone makes the comment this is not thought out enough and there should be steps of bringing elders along to visit women in the workplace.

Seriously. STOP IT. Instead of being a critic, please praise what has been done.

This post was very well thought out. It was awesome. It was incredible to see such a huge step for a young pastor. He recognized one of the most overlooked opportunities in the church and he talked about how businesspeople need affirmation.

This article wasn't about men or women. It wasn't intended to "write off" half the population. It was about affirming a calling into the business arena.

Its a process of taking steps. This is one step. Please before you just take the side of critic please encourage the pastor who wrote this article. Celebrate the wins.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 2:21 PM  

Debbie Atteberry said...

I am trying to decide why this statement bothers me: "The best use of your time is to make most of these visits with men who are leader types"

I would imagine when he says “leader type”, he does not mean only spend time with charismatic people, managers, or individuals who are influential within their work place pecking order. It seems to me, he is referring to people who have shown fruit in their own walk with Jesus and seek to be influential for the Lord.

I don’t think it is about playing favorites. It has been my observation, that for a Pastor or any Christian in a mentoring role, their time and energy is a resource like any other and God requires us to invest it wisely. Making a three hour excursion to everyone’s work who wants to hang out is not good stewardship. Investing in people who invest in others, who influence others for Jesus, is the wisest way to minister.

Also, a Pastor or any male Christian leader needs to be careful about hanging out with women one on one. Visiting a married women at her work then taking her out to lunch may be viewed in the wrong way. This may account for the specific call to visit men. Although I will agree, a call for women in leadership to visit women would have been helpful.
commented by Blogger Francis, 7:00 PM  

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