Pastors, go to where your men work.
Over the last few years as a pastor in the Bay Area I’ve discovered that one of the most important things for me to do is to hang out with men in my church at their workplace.
This helps the men. It shows them that I care about their callings, how they spend 50+ hours of their week, and the people they work with.
This helps me. It teaches me about the unique opportunities and challenges men are facing in their different workplaces, it opens my eyes to a world bigger than our church, and it helps set new trajectories for my preaching and discipling.
This is how I do it:
-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 or working as a plumber. 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 a blast visiting men at their workplaces 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.