Oct 15, 2019 | Maddie Garcia
With some time and experience, you’ve likely grown more confident in sharing your faith and doing outreach as a student on campus. You know how to tell your testimony in a compelling way using the My Story model, or you might be comfortable discussing different worldviews using Perspective Cards, or you may just love inviting your friends to the multi-faith debates happening at your school.
When you graduate and are no longer involved in a student ministry on campus, you might feel like there aren’t as many opportunities to share your faith in these ways. Your co-workers may not outright ask you about what you believe. There may even be rules in your workplace that prevent you from discussing religion!
So, what can you do to share your faith in the workplace? Does evangelism look different compared to when you were a student on campus?
The five thresholds of conversion
One way to think of this is by looking to the five thresholds of conversion (or, as we refer to it in P2C, the engagement model), introduced in the book “I Once Was Lost: What Postmodern Skeptics Taught Us About Their Path to Jesus” by Don Everts and Doug Schaupp.
These five thresholds describe what it’s like for someone to come to know Christ, how they take steps toward Jesus, and how we as Christians can help them on that journey. Crossing these thresholds will look different for different people, but these five significant shifts tend to be seen in people who come to faith in Jesus.
The first is moving from distrust to trust (learning to trust a Christian). The second is moving from complacent to curious (being interested in Jesus). The third is moving from being closed to being open to change (which involves examining their personal life, and is often the hardest threshold to cross). The fourth is moving from meandering to seeking (more actively, purposefully seeking God). The fifth threshold is entering the kingdom (repenting, believing, and giving their life to Jesus).
Everyone is on a journey with Jesus. Some are moving towards him, and some are moving away. Some are far from him and have no knowledge or experience of authentic Christianity. Some may have grown up going to church on Sundays but haven’t personally made a decision to follow Jesus and surrender their lives to him.
You meet people all across these thresholds on college and university campuses, as well as in the workplace when you’re on a co-op term or after you graduate. So, in one way, evangelism as a student and as an employee isn’t all that different. You get to know people and listen to them, see where they are in their journey towards Jesus, empathize with their situation, and try to help move them along.
Remembering these five thresholds also takes some pressure off of you. If all you’ve accomplished with one classmate or one co-worker is help them trust you as a Christian, that’s an important step. That’s evangelism. That’s helping someone move closer to Jesus. Be encouraged by that! It’s far less common to see someone make a decision for Christ in your very first conversation with them. Trust that God is using you in each interaction you have, conversation you initiate, and relationship you start at a certain school and in a certain workplace.
Living out your faith at work
In talking with some friends who have graduated in the past few years, I know this is a struggle for many Christians, and they have provided great insight into some ways you can live out your faith at work. Many of them line up with the engagement model and the five thresholds!
As Christians, we are called to live in a way that’s different and counter to the rest of culture. Some of the things we choose to think, say (or not say), and do (or not do), illustrate that we don’t just go with the flow or conform to what the rest of the world does (Romans 12:2). It’s OK to be known as the Christian in your office. Some people might start to notice that you’re different, become curious about the way you live, and ask you questions: Why don’t you swear? How are you so patient with that annoying co-worker? Wait, you and your fiancé(e) don’t live together? These are great opportunities to share about your faith in Jesus, and the impact he has on the way you live your life.
Another way to live curiously is to go above and beyond in showing love and care for your co-workers. Tangible acts of love, like driving someone home from work, or dropping off a meal when they’re sick, or picking up donuts for everyone in the office, are great opportunities to build trust, be generous, and demonstrate the love of Christ. Jesus even says, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
Grow those friendships
There are some people who go to work just to get their tasks done. They clock in for their 8 hours, and rarely talk to anyone else. Don’t be that guy. Being intentional in your work relationships takes some effort, and requires you to go out of your way to strike up conversations and get to know the people you work with. Take advantage of the water cooler talk, eat with others in the lunchroom, or hang around a bit later to chat with the person in the cubicle next to you. It can just be casual conversations, especially to start. You could be asked, “What you did over the weekend?”; don’t be afraid to share about going to church, or anything else you may have done with your Christian community.
As you build these friendships with your co-workers, you’ll hear what their needs are and you’ll learn where they are at in their journey with Jesus. Pray for them, whether it’s on your own, or by offering to pray for them out loud. If you do this in a conversational way, after they have opened up about something tough they’re going through, it can be a great way to show you care about them. If they’re hostile to Christianity or it’s difficult to even have those casual conversations with them, be patient. It takes time to build both relationships and trust.
Get out of the office
Sometimes the office environment isn’t the most suitable for forming friendships and having deep conversations. So take it outside of the office! Invite a new co-worker to grab coffee or go to lunch, or if you discover some shared interests, think of how you can experience them together. You might get to know the co-worker on a deeper level when you see them outside of the workplace.
Aside from work and church, where else can you make friends and meet non-Christians? In university it seems like there are so many ways to make new connections (in classes, residence, extra-curriculars, athletics) and it takes a bit more effort to find these new places to make new friends once you’re out of school. Maybe you’ll still stay in touch with your school friends, or you’re super social and are great at meeting new people naturally. For others you might need to, again, be intentional and seek out those places and opportunities.
If you’re the athletic type, joining a sports team or league in your city can be a great way to meet other adults and build friendships. When you find someone with the same passion as you, it can create deeper bonds. Not to mention the amount of communication and teamwork that comes from doing sports together! If there are any post-game hang outs, go for it. In time, people might really open up. Think of ways you could invite these new friends to meet your Christian friends, whether at a more casual event you’re hosting or maybe an outreach at your church.
Be in community
Community is important! P2C may have been your core Christian community when you were a student, but you also need your church community (especially after you graduate). Your church might not have the same focus on evangelism as your experience with campus ministry, or they may not use the same tools. That’s OK! Evangelism doesn’t have to be an organized program. It can be part of your everyday life.
Being in a solid Christian community as an adult also means you have people who can encourage you to persevere in sharing your faith with your co-workers. They can also make suggestions on how to approach certain tough situations at work (like not wanting to participate in pride week activities, or requesting time off to go on a missions trip). Community helps us navigate these things.
Everyone needs Jesus
Students, young adults, young professionals, co-workers, bosses…everyone needs Jesus. Whether they have never heard of him, have walked away from their faith, or are this close to taking that next step to entering the kingdom, everyone needs Jesus. It is so humbling to know that God uses each of us to accomplish his plans and purposes on earth – that he has placed us at a certain school or workplace, and guided us into certain relationships with peers and co-workers, so that we can be a witness and help people along in their journey with Jesus.
Are you making the most of the opportunities you’ve been given?