Take a couple of minutes to explore these ideas for how workplace Sunday could look at your church.
Different streams of church have different forms of service, but most contain common elements: some form of welcome, confession, sung worship, preaching and prayers for example. The following are suggestions that might be helpful in compiling a Sunday service around the theme of work.
A week or so before the service, you might like to gather some information about where the congregation spends their time outside of the church context. Perhaps you could ask your small group leaders to pose some questions to their members: where do they see their ‘frontline’ – the place where they engage with the world? What are their occupations? What are their opportunities to serve Jesus at work? What are the pressure points?
Welcome and Gathering
Worshipping on a Sunday draws the body of Christ back together after a week scattered in the various places in which we work: paid or unpaid, at home or in the office, wherever we shape God’s world on his behalf.
Try to keep the definition of work broad to include as many people as possible e.g. people engaged in office or manual work, in education and health, in business and in public service but also those who are working at home running a household, bringing up children, and caring for others.
People will have come from a wide range of different places. It’s good at this point to mention a few and perhaps some of the challenges they face.
Our worship together reminds us of who God is, of his amazing story of salvation and of our part in that – our purpose in God as we go about daily life and work.
Confession and Forgiveness
If you normally have a time of confession and forgiveness, try relating it to working life by using workplace examples in your introduction: ‘Lord, we bring our relationships to you at home, at work, at school…’ Some may have had an argument with a colleague or their boss for example.
If you don’t normally have a formal time of confession, perhaps you could use the Lord ’s Prayer at this point and pause at ‘Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us’. Again this can be connected to daily life and work with examples: some may have resented the amount of work they had to get through this week for instance, so here is an opportunity to forgive their manager.
The Lord’s Prayer can also be used as a guided reflection around work, and you can find a PDF here:
Lords Prayer at Work
The Lord's Prayer reflection around workDownload
Wherever it comes in the service, many churches highlight some important parts of church life on a Sunday morning, sometimes interviewing someone who is considered to be doing something significant (sometimes going overseas on mission). This is a great opportunity to endorse the value of all our work in God’s eyes by holding a short interview with a regular working person.
Simply asking what they will doing This Time Tomorrow (i.e. Monday morning), how they see God working through them and then praying for them. You can find a short video outlining this idea and how it works here on our This Time Tomorrow page.
There are two words that are often used to describe worship in the New Testament: surrender and service. On a Sunday, we surrender in worship to the Lord of all, and during the week we serve him in our work. Both are worship, but many people don’t make the link as they sing well known songs and hymns on a Sunday morning. So, it’s good to help people connect to working life in the way we lead sung worship. Certain songs, like Tim Hughes’ Everything or that great hymn Be Thou My Vision have a clear link to the everyday. You can download a list of similar songs and hymns below.
Suggestions for Hymns and Choruses
Ideas of songs that connect our gathered worship to everyday lifeDownload
But simply introducing any song in a way that’s relevant to daily life is encouraging. For example, those who feel compromised in some way by what’s happened during the week may find a song such as “Purify my Heart” or the hymn “Just As I Am” helpful in the process of cleansing if guided to do so by the meeting or worship leader.
Reading of Scripture and Preaching
It’s not vital to pick a passage of scripture that obviously relates to work. Indeed, all of scripture speaks to our lives (and so to our work) in some way, and some churches will follow a set pattern of readings. But if you have the freedom to choose, the following passages easily relate to the workplace.
Daniel 1 & 2: Old Testament narrative describing the story of someone who lives faithfully to God with integrity in a pagan society
Psalm 18: Wisdom Literature reflecting the faithfulness of God to David as he goes about his daily work (albeit as a soldier and a King!)
Ruth 2: an account of Boaz, owner of a family business, who creates a godly workplace culture in the midst of severe national depravity in the time of the Judges, and of Ruth, a refugee who has to engage in gleaning work to survive and does so with dignity
Ecclesiastes 2:17-26: a passage recognising the frustration and futility of work in a fallen world when not done to please God, but for selfish reward
John 15: for those looking to be fruitful for God in their work, Jesus’ instruction about abiding in him as the new living vine – an opportunity to explore how we connect to God in and through our working day
Colossians 3: a passage in one of Paul’s letters that covers individual holiness, family and household life and work, underlining that whatever we do (even if it is not our dream job) we can do it wholeheartedly and to the Lord
Remembering Christ’s work on the cross is at the heart of our worship as we gather, yet this corporate act of remembrance can sometimes feel far removed from our daily lives. It’s worth highlighting from time to time that the work of the cross is effective in reconciling all things to God (Col 1:20), bringing peace to all things: both individuals and God’s wider creation. Our daily work is one way in which we can participate in that reconciliation as God’s people.
Jesus chose some everyday things to represent his work on the cross: bread and wine – both products of the work of our hands, forever now an intrinsic part of our corporate worship.
Prayers and Intercession
Many people feel under pressure at work. It’s good to pray for God’s help in times of stress or threat of redundancy. Alongside these pressures, though, there is also the purpose for which God has placed us where he has at work, and this is an opportunity to affirm and pray ‘Thy Kingdom come’ in and through working people to their colleagues and their workplaces.
It’s helpful to ask working people to lead these prayers and perhaps to refer to some of the specific issues and opportunities that emerge from asking the congregation about their occupations, pressures and purpose.
It’s also an opportunity perhaps to pray for those with a new job, or a significant challenge, recently made redundant, or approaching retirement.
You can find some ideas and opportunities for prayer here:
Opportunities for Prayer
How you could pray with work in mindDownload
In many traditions, the service ends with a form of sending out. This is a great opportunity to remind people of where they are being sent to i.e. to their places of mission as they work alongside many who need to hear of God’s love and in places that desperately need godly values and biblical workplace wisdom.
We might use a form of words like ‘Go in peace to love and serve the Lord’, but this can become very familiar and lose its meaning. It’s good simply to remind people that they are being sent beyond the post-service cup of coffee or Sunday lunch back into the world as God’s people to serve him wherever he has placed them.
Other creative ideas
- During the offering, invite people to lay a symbol of their work on the alter or at the front of the congregation (e.g. computer mouse, tie, tool etc.) This needs forewarning.
- Involve children by bringing in workplace symbols and asking them to guess what their ‘owners’ do. Perhaps ask the children what sort of job they would like to do when they are older.
- Bring in a large map of the area and give people pins or flags to mark on it where they work
- You can find a summary of these ideas below and details of LICC’s wider resource Whole Life Worship here
Ideas for Services
Summary of creative ideas and how they can be usedDownload