© Herald photo by Matt Gardner
CHAKAM School of the Bible transition advisor Dr. John Fryters holds a copy of his new book, God and Work: Theology of Work – Marketplace Ministry 101, outside his home. The book explores how to engage in effective ministry outside the church.
During the writing of his new book examining how Christians can effectively spread their faith outside the church, Dr. John Fryters found himself returning to a quote by the apostle Paul.
This article was originally published in the June 6, 2013 issue of Rural Roots. An upcoming course on God and Work will take place on Jan. 12 and 19 at the Canadian Revival Centre.
“The main key verse that I’m using in the book is what St. Paul was saying,” Fryters said. “St. Paul said this -- and he was a minister … ‘Follow me, for I follow Christ.’”
While that statement initially struck Fryters as arrogant, upon closer reflection he began to understand the deeper meaning of Paul’s words.
“Where did he get that from? He got that from Jesus. Jesus said the same thing. He says, ‘Follow me, for I follow the Father in heaven.’ …
“Because Paul follows Jesus, you’re actually following the Father.”
The role of individual leadership as a component of faith is a key element in Fryters’s new book, entitled God and Work: Theology of Work -- Marketplace Ministry 101.
Described by the author as an introductory biblical study guide, the book arose out of Fryters’s experience with the Theology of Work grant program, an initiative by Bakke Graduate University in Seattle to develop curriculums at educational institutions dealing with Christian ministry outside church walls.
To elucidate that concept of “marketplace ministry” (i.e. ministering where people congregate outside the church), Fryters drew a comparison between official clergy and rank-and-file church members.
“Two per cent of the people in the church are what I would call priests, who are actually ministering within the church walls, and that two per cent is trying to keep the other 98 per cent in the church for a whole bunch of obvious reasons … and basically, that’s not the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Fryters said.
“The gospel of Jesus Christ is that he gives us that two per cent, according to the book of Ephesians … to train other people up to do the work of the ministry.”
The theology of work, as described by Fryters, involves each rank-and-file Christian performing missionary work on a one-on-one level in their own sphere of influence.
While traditional pastor education has focused on what is known as the Redemption Mandate, which involves reconciling people and the earth to God, the book’s discussion of work theology devotes more time to the Creation Mandate, which teaches that individuals can work for the glory of God through their various callings both inside and outside the church.
You do your work as God does his work. John Fryters
“If you look at what Jesus was saying, Jesus says, ‘Yes, you have to be saved by grace through faith, and once you’re saved by grace through faith, you’d better work,’ and he called it the kingdom,” Fryters said.
“That’s the mandate, the work mandate. You just don’t become a Christian and then you go to work in your day-to-day work and go to church on Sundays and then think you can go to heaven, and not do anything.”
When it comes to proselytizing in the workplace, Fryters counseled against the use of what he calls “Christianese” words. For example, asking someone if they have been “saved” can merely be counterproductive.
A more effective way for a Christian to demonstrate their faith, he suggested, was to serve as an example to others, performing one’s own job to the best of their abilities and always seeking to improve.
“You do your work as God does his work,” Fryters said, pointing to a passage in Deuteronomy -- in which God states that “Whatever I do is perfect” -- as an ideal to aspire to.
Alluding to the biblical depiction of Christ as the “king of kings,” Fryters used the example of the British monarchy to illustrate the importance of expanding that kingdom.
While the monarchy is not universally popular across the country -- particularly in Quebec -- Fryters noted that Canada was the first country where Queen Elizabeth II sent royal couple William and Kate, who have a high level of personal popularity here according to polls.
“They love Kate. They love William … What I’m saying is, in (the queen’s) mind, she cannot lose part of her kingdom.”
As with more earthly kingdoms, he suggested, the kingdom of God should do everything possible to avoid a contraction in size.
“Jesus is going to come back one day to take over the world and to run the earth as the kingdom of God, and we are going to reign -- it says in the Scriptures -- we are going to reign with him,” Fryters said.
“So we better learn to be kings now. And a king works. And a king always looks at expansion.”