Expanding Your Ministry through Daily Devotionals and the Internet
Have you ever thought about what it would be like to encourage your church members in their walk with the Lord every single day? Or, have you imagined expanding your ministry to people around the world to places like China, Singapore, England, Malaysia and other far away places from the comfort of your study?
If you have, it's likely those thoughts don't go much further than your mind when you think about what that might require in time and expense. But what if someone told you those things were possible with very little resources -- a minimum of time, money or energy. By casting your net on the internet, you could dramatically expand your ministry into the lives of your members and expand it outside the borders of your church.
In October of 1997, God led me to begin writing a daily devotional called TGIF Today God Is First marketplace meditations. (The title confronts the commonly held negative view of work - Thank God It's Friday.) It began as a labor of love to encourage fellow business people in the workplace. Each devotional consisted of a title, a scripture verse, and an application of that verse to real life situations in the workplace. They were often from personal experience.
Each day I wrote one devotional on a topic it seemed God impressed me to write about. The lists of recipients grew as more and more people began to request a subscription and were passed on to others. One day a long time friend and subscriber, who was also the CEO of a major Christian web site, wwww.goshen.net, (now www.crosswalk.com), asked if he could feature the devotional on his web site. Almost overnight, the list of subscribers grew dramatically, adding 500 or more subscribers a month. Then, the most amazing thing happened. I began to hear from people throughout the world.
God Meets A Woman's Need in South Africa Through Man in Atlanta, Georgia
Jenny is a Christian working at a technical university in South Africa. Day after day, she faces many challenges in her life as a result of her alcoholic husband and the increasing crime problem that exists in her homeland. She and her family have been the victims of many crimes. Her husband was held up at gunpoint by car hijackers and her aunt was murdered in a similar encounter.
She is a woman who needs encouragement.
While she was at work one day, she came across TGIF Today God Is First marketplace meditations on the internet at www.crosswalk.com. TGIF Today God Is First marketplace meditations was described as a daily devotional for those in the workplace. She subscribed and each day an email devotional message automatically arrived on her computer. The devotional messages began to have an amazing impact on her life. So much so, she finally wrote to me.
"I feel that I should tell you how close you seem to get to what each of us at work are feeling. I found myself wondering whether you could read my mind today after I read your devotional titled "Disobedience Rooted in Fear". I actually got a fright as it felt as if you were sitting behind me talking to me. We are on our last savings and our business is failing."
Jenny shared about a financial crisis in her family that I passed on to my intercessory prayer team who have a mature walk with the Lord. They receive such letters from me frequently and have made a commitment to pray for these requests. In this case, God heard and responded to these prayers for Jenny 6,000 miles away from her home. It did not take long for Him to answer. The following week, I received this note.
"I hope I am not keeping a very busy man out of work, but I would just like to give you some feedback. Two minutes ago, I received a phone call from my insurance company, which has processed a loan on all my policies and the money will be in the bank within 48 hours. The insurance folks said it would take 10 days to process and it has only taken two. It is more than I expected . . . I expected a miracle and it has happened. PRAISE THE LORD! I know that is because of you and the rest of your team praying for us. Please say a very big thank you to your team."
This story is one of hundreds that I receive each week since I began TGIF Today God Is First marketplace meditations. Today, TGIF Today God Is First marketplace meditations is one of the fastest growing devotionals on the internet and reaches every major country. Nearly 50% of households in the United States now have a computer and access to the internet. Marketplace Meditations is subscribed to by more than 35,000 people a day. I receive hundreds of letters each week from men and women from around the world who are being impacted by Jesus Christ because of these daily messages of inspiration and encouragement. It was published as a book in May.
God At Work In The Workplace
An article in the November 1999 issue of Business Week magazine titled Religion in the Workplace cites:
"A spiritual revival is sweeping across Corporate America as executives of all stripes are mixing mysticism into their management, importing into office corridors the lessons usually doled out in churches, temples, and mosques God is the taboo against talking about God at work"
"With more people becoming open about spirituality -- 95% of Americans say they believe in God or a universal spirit, and 48% say the talked about their religious faith at work that day, according to the Gallup Organizations--it would make sense that, along with their briefcases and laptops, people would start bringing their faith to work." Laura Nash, a business ethicists at Harvard Divinity School and author of Believers in Business says, 'Spirituality in the workplace is exploding.'"
The internet and the new emphasis on spiritual matters in the workplace represent a whole new opportunity to impact our culture with the message of Jesus Christ. It is an opportunity to encourage and build up the existing body of Christ who faces great challenges in the place where they spend 70% of their waking hours -- the workplace. It is also an opportunity to present Christ in the secular workplace. But if we don't, this spiritual hunger will be filled with other forms of new age religion and cults.
There is a major move of God taking place in the workplace today. Ten years ago, we could only identify about 25 formal organizations that existed to minister to business people. Organizations like Christian Businessmen's Committee (CBMC) Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship International, and Fellowship of Companies for Christ (FCCI) were typical. Today, we have identified over 850 organizations that have a national or international focus.
Turn Your Members Into E-Pastors
I often get letters from others in the workplace who use TGIF Today God Is First marketplace meditations to minister to their friends and associates in the workplace. One man wrote and said he had over 40 on his list of email recipients. He takes messages that he believes have particular relevance to their lives and forwards them to with a personal note. It has become his own way of personally ministering to others without having to write devotionals himself.
I believe we who are in church leadership have missed the opportunity to minister and affirm a major segment of the church body -- those in the workplace. I feel we have often failed to train Christians in the workplace to know what it means to integrate their faith life with their spiritual life. This has often resulted in a segmented life for the Christian. This makes them ineffective in sharing their faith in the workplace. How many churches have programs that help men and woman integrate their faith into their work life?
Rich Marshall, a former pastor in Southern California, came to this realization a few years ago. He began ordaining men and women who are called to minister to those in the workplace. He realized he spent too much time training these people to do his work of the ministry, instead of their work. Rich has since left the full time pastorate and has started a new ministry to those in the workplace called ROI, INC, a ministry that starts noon-day prayer meetings among business people in cities.
There was a study done recently that revealed that over 60% of church members have never heard a sermon on work and faith. It's no wonder people segment their faith life from their work life. They have never been taught to think differently.
Start Your Own Devotional Ministry
There are several ways you can begin your own devotional ministry to your members and people outside the walls of your church You can write your own devotionals messages, or use TGIF Today God Is First marketplace meditations. TGIF Today God Is First marketplace meditations is free for anyone who wishes to place them on their web site, or establish their own subscription program for their church. (You can see a sample devotional at www.marketplaceleaders.org and find out more on how to use a subscription program.)
We are constantly looking for churches and business people who desire to minister to those in the workplace. The growing response to TGIF Today God Is First marketplace meditations is a two-edged sword - more and more people are getting ministered to through this internet medium. But, the number of qualified, mature believers who can respond to these requests is growing too rapidly to keep up. We would love more churches to partner with us to respond to these needs.
How To Create An Internet Devotional Ministry in Your Church
- Establish a web site for your church and offer a daily devotional subscription. Take it another step and offer your members an opportunity to sign up to receive it each day by email. You can write your own, or use TGIF Today God Is First marketplace meditations as your church's devotional.
- If you write your own devotional, make sure that you share personally from your heart. Use as many stories as possible to illustrate spiritual life principles from your own life. Transparency and vulnerability is what connects with the reader.
- At the end of the devotional message, include any personal message that you would like to give to your members. This provides a great way to stay in touch with your members.
- Encourage your members to send devotionals to their friends and family. Use it as an outreach as their own ministry.
- Include your devotional message or TGIF Today God Is First marketplace meditations in your bulletin one Sunday a month. Encourage members to sign up for the free subscription (TGIF Today God Is First marketplace meditations has developed a series of bulletin inserts for churches).
- Encourage business people to use devotionals as their own means of outreach to unsaved business people.
- Begin a workplace ministry within your church to begin affirming the call of God on their lives to use their work as a ministry to those in the workplace. Contact local marketplace ministries to assist you.
- Consider starting an entirely different web site not associated with any church that offers practical assistance to those in the workplace i.e. job placement service, job training resources, etc. Provide a practical service on the web while incorporating some light spiritual food for thought.
- Make your members aware of other web sites that help them integrate their faith in their work life like Workplace Wisdom Interactive (www.wowi.net) and Life@Work, (www.lifeatwork.com), are just two web sites that contain articles, books and organizations that help business people integrate their faith with their work.
- Visit the web site www.marketplaceleaders.org, which links to a site specifically developed for pastors to understand God's move in the workplace and how to expand your church's ministry to those in the workplace.
Os Hillman is President of Marketplace Leaders, an organization that helps mobilize marketplace ministries to impact the workplace for Christ. He is author of six books, speaks in churches and business groups, teaches workshops and writes articles and books to help business people discover their calling through their work. For more information on some of the resources he has for churches and pastors, you may contact him at 770-442-1500 or visit his web site at www.marketplaceleaders.org.
Thursday November 18th 1999
May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us-- yes, establish the work of our hands (Psalm 90:17).
Many of us begin our work life with the goal of achieving successful careers. If we haven't entered our work as a result of the calling of God we will eventually face a chasm that leads to deep frustration and emptiness. So often we enter careers for the wrong motives -- financial, prestige, and even pressure from parent or peers. When we fail to match our giftedness and calling it is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Once that happens over an extended period, eventually a person crashes. If that person also lacks fulfillment in his personal life, then we see a major crash such as a mid-life crisis.