The answer to this question will depend on your workplace. If you work for a Christian company where there is an atmosphere of prayer and ministry in place, it will be much easier to minister to your colleagues, although sensitivity will always be required.
If not, it may be more difficult to speak to your fellow workers or clients without finding yourself in hot water. You may also have been put off by news stories you’ve heard about street evangelists who have faced opposition, people being pulled up about wearing crosses at work and the Christian bakery that was penalised for refusing to produce a cake promoting gay marriage. It’s important to be aware of the risks, but there are still ways for you to make an impact in your place of work.
- Lead by example. If you’re lazy and quick to pass the buck, it’s unlikely that your colleagues will respect you or want to hear about your faith. If you want to give a good example, practise integrity in everything you do and avoid negativity and gossip. Always be prepared to go the extra mile in your work and dealings with other members of staff.
- Let your colleagues drive the conversation. It’s fine to tell your co-workers that you went to church on Sunday if they ask what you got up to at the weekend, or to tell them about a conference you’re organising, or a Christian charity you support. But it’s important that you don’t force your faith on anyone. Wait for opportunities and answer any questions they may have without being pushy or forcing the conversation.
- Follow the rules. If there is a policy in place about wearing religious symbols, such as a cross, at work, it’s probably worth following them. Wearing a cross doesn’t make you a Christian, and you can demonstrate your faith in other ways. If you feel really strongly about this or there seems to be a double standard in your workplace, take the issue up with your HR manager in a respectful way.
- Rely on the Holy Spirit. If you’re listening out for that still, small voice, you’re much more likely to know when to speak out and when to remain silent. Ask God for opportunities to speak about him and for the right words to say when they arise.
- Pray for your colleagues. Prayer is your most powerful weapon, so use it every day. Pray for your colleagues and the company as a whole. You could do this on your commute to work or at a specific time of day so that you remember to do it consistently. There may even be situations where your co-workers ask you to pray for them. If so, ask whether they would prefer you to do it there and then or remotely. Listen to their prayer requests carefully, and if you say you’re going to pray for them, do it! Follow up with them afterwards to find out what happened, and keep praying until something changes.
- Set up a prayer space. If your employer is generally open to discussions about faith, it may be possible to set up a prayer or Bible study group. There may be Christians at your workplace who desperately want to connect with other believers. Again, be sensitive about this and make sure that sessions take place in your own time, never running into work hours. You may be permitted to advertise the group on a notice board, but always ask permission and use a room no one else needs so you don’t raise anyone’s heckles. If your non-Christian colleagues express an interest in attending, make them feel welcome and adapt your usual session so that they aren’t totally freaked out!
- Invite your co-workers to events. The idea of inviting colleagues to Christian events may fill you with terror, but the better you know fellow staff members, the bolder you’re likely to be. Start with your close friends and explain exactly what the event is. Ask them if they’d like to come along, but don’t pressurise them. Answer any questions they may have honestly. Again, you may be allowed to advertise the event on a noticeboard or to distribute flyers, but always ask permission first.
- Be patient. Maybe you had a great conversation with a colleague over lunch and they asked some great questions. You were able to share your testimony and they seemed really interested. But a few months down the line they seem to have gone cold again. That’s ok. It’s your job to speak truth into their lives as the Holy Spirit prompts, but it’s not your responsibility to make them believe anything. Keep praying and leave them in God’s hands, but always be ready to answer questions and share with them should they raise the issue again.
It may seem impossible to live as a Christian at your place of work, let alone minister to colleague, but remember that everyone needs to hear the gospel and you may be their only chance of hearing it. Be sensitive but ready to share at all times.