Antioch Church in the Countryside YMCA
Gary Wilkins describes his current position at MLA Companies (a business financial advisory firm) as an Organizational Effectiveness Principal. This fits within his broader vision to be a “Team Maximizer and Cultural Theorist within a Biblical Framework”.
Gary served eight years as a Dayton-area teaching pastor, before reentering the workplace in 2017 as researcher, consultant and coach. When leaving his ministry position, God didn’t open the doors Gary expected. He knew transition was coming, and tried not to assume what his next ministry role would be.
As Gary began talking to trusted people in his life, the Lord’s purpose became clear. “I learned that high-level financial consultants were struggling to serve their clients. These were missional and spiritual issues, which couldn’t be solved by finance.” Gary explains.
From At Work on Purpose to Catalyst
Gary met Chuck Proudfit before an At Work on Purpose Summit event. He and Chuck shared their desire to gain traction in the Dayton area. “Chuck and I were in separate orbits, but working around the same set of questions,” Gary said. “My place within At Work on Purpose is to leverage those connections—business, pastors and churches—as I still feel called to serve the church.”
Gary’s opportunity to act as a “catalyst” started at home, at Antioch Church in Lebanon. Antioch meets in the Countryside YMCA, and they enjoy a cooperative, long-term relationship. That fits with the Y’s mission to serve their community. Together, they offer a neutral “open door” to those who may not feel comfortable meeting in a church environment.
“It’s a simple, but effective opportunity to offer church and workplace initiatives,” says Gary. “Going forward, we have an eye toward developing a model that other local churches can follow.”
Gary is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Ministry, developing a Biblical framework for understanding culture. “Economics is a language that is understood by our culture. If we can do business well, we create opportunities for the Gospel.”
How deep does this go? “Conversations between church and business are just the beginning,” Gary replies. “Biblical principles connect the church with politics, education and economics. These connections offer a path to cultural change.”
Kirk Lithander, Outreach Pastor at Fairhaven Church, enjoys recruiting, equipping and investing in potential ministry leaders through hands-on mentoring. His outreach isn’t just geographical, it’s multi-generational. Kirk is currently coming alongside Fairhaven’s “Men’s Mentoring Ministry”, bridging the generation gap through mentoring.
Inspired by the Made to Flourish network that Kirk and Chuck Proudfit lead for the Cincinnati/Dayton Corridor, Fairhaven’s network, Fairhaven’s “Man-to-Man” ministry launched in 2018. The men’s ministry aligns seasoned business professionals with millennials as coaches and mentors. They are faithful men teaching others—a true inter-generational ministry—much as a seasoned Paul mentored a younger Timothy to preach into others.
“We get people in the same room, matching seasoned mentors with younger guys,” explains Kirk. They meet monthly, sharing testimonials and teachings. “For example, we might put one mentor with two millennial disciples, studying books and examining questions,” he continues. “In another example, a real estate guru has reached out to guys in their late 20s, also in similar positions. They meet for breakfast and/or lunches; a flexible structure helps meet various needs and logistics.”
Kirk met Chuck Proudfit through At Work on Purpose, working together to establish a Dayton chapter. Chuck has also been involved at Fairhaven, encouraging their catalyst team: a dozen high-capacity church leaders, integrating faith-work business ministries.
“At Work on Purpose equips Christian businessmen and women to live out faith at work and economic wisdom,” says Kirk. “Fairhaven recognizes the value of building into young men and women—breaking down the secular and sacred divide.”
Pastor Jeff Greer of Grace Chapel in Mason, Ohio has a heart for helping widows and orphans. But working with At Work on Purpose helped him develop another passion—workplace ministry.
The leadership of Grace Chapel began ministry outreach in 1996 with the formation of Back2Back, an organization dedicated to holistic orphan care worldwide. In 2003, the church established Self Sustaining Enterprises (SSE) as an organization advancing Christ-centered entrepreneurial ventures focused on financial profits for ministry advancement.
The Grace Chapel campus is “home base” for SSE, and has opened its campus facility for faith-based entrepreneurial ventures. The ORCA Center provides a flexible co-working space that is inviting to believers and non-believers alike, including incubation and acceleration for tenants and participants. On-campus ventures are as diverse as a CrossFit gym, a hair salon, and a technology company. SSE calls these Kingdom enterprises “biznistries”, and Jeff Greer and Chuck Proudfit have co-authored the book BIZNISTRY: Transforming Lives Through Enterprise.
Off-campus initiatives include a 75-acre economic development zone in Nigeria, with sponsored enterprises in a variety of countries including Mexico, Haiti and India.
“I didn’t think I would find such joy in ministering to people in the workplace,” says Greer. “We can help people succeed in business and engage them spiritually at the same time.”
Horizon Community Church
Pastor Chad Hovind of Horizon Community Church has been active for years with At Work on Purpose. He speaks at some of the larger Christian gatherings throughout Greater Cincinnati, and national events like Glenn Beck’s Restoring Love in Dallas.
Chad is the author of Fast Track Bible; a creative, fast-paced summary of the entire Bible. Fast Track summarizes Genesis to Revelation in eight short chapters and can be read in one sitting.
Equipping his church congregation to focus on the challenging spiritual demands facing Christian workplace leaders, Chad has developed the DVD series, Godonomics, as well as the Godonomics book. This six-part series creates a compelling Biblical perspective on stewardship within the workplace.
Chad is committed to overcoming the sacred/secular conflict many of us feel between the weekends and the work week. He focuses people on God’s direction for work life, the importance of a strong work ethic, and the joy of sharing prosperity and wisdom with others.
As Chad points out, “some of the most important Christian leadership flows through the workplace, and the Church must be strategically positioned in this arena.”
LifeSpring Community Christian Church
Senior Minister Jeff Duerler, LifeSpring Community Christian Church, boldly lays out current church and workplace challenges:
- How do we turn the lightbulbs on, for people becoming faith active at work?
- How do we talk about shaping culture in ways not explicitly Christian? But rather in ways that implicitly lead to a successful business culture – including employees and outside resources?
- How does the Kingdom play out, in restoring a broken world driven by the Christian world view?
LifeSpring’s vision is joining God in restoring a broken world. “That’s why we exist,” says Jeff. “Just as Jesus comes to bring hope, healing, and freedom, God calls us to join Him in that same work today.” The church’s strategy to fulfill that mission: mobilizing disciples to make disciples – in their relationships at home, with their families; at work or school; and with neighbors and friends. A big part of being a follower of Jesus plays out Monday through Friday, when people are at work.
In 2016, LifeSpring invited Chuck Proudfit, At Work on Purpose, to speak on purposely living with intentionality. Chuck’s message then became the catalyst for a series of “intentionally preaching” to the congregation. That series and Chuck’s speaking led to small groups studying “Mission to Monday” training.
“Our next step is to commission workplace ministers,” says Jeff. “We hope to produce BIZNISTRIES, seminars or boot camps for new and existing businesses – learning how best to come alongside and work with them. Going forward, capturing and relaying their stories through media can inspire and validate living out faith and purpose.”
Montgomery Community Church
John Hartz firmly believes, “We should be sharing the gospel, and it’s not that hard.” As proof, he and his friend, Dan Busken, initiated “Good News Seminars”. The seminars fill a gap: spreading the gospel and equipping others to do the same.
Both of them were already living Biblical principles and involved in At Work on Purpose. At lunch one afternoon, Chuck Proudfit pointed out nobody else was offering a similar seminar, and encouraged them to “go do it.”
John’s church, Montgomery Community, is committed to engaging the congregation, communities and beyond. “A really cool thing is happening,” he says. “With Chuck’s help, these seminars are cross-pollinating to other churches like White Oak Christian and Epiphany United Methodist.”
The seminar meets attendees “where they are”, and kicks off with several questions: Why are you here? Do you currently share the good news with friends, family, and co-workers? What do you want to know? Materials and stories are prepared beforehand, but each seminar is self-styled—based on people’s needs, fears and questions. John and Dan answer every question with God’s truth. “It’s easy to tell your own story,” explains John, “because no one can argue with it.”
“Our vision is to further develop materials and tools that help people,” continues John. “We’re equipping people to share the gospel and co-lead additional seminars, in the ‘train the trainer’ style.” Anyone can lead these seminars: empowering others to reach their congregations and work environments. Part of his and Dan’s vision is that attendees leave with practical tools and come back with impactful stories of their own.
“Our goal is to amp people up for God’s great news.”
Mt. Calvary Early Church of God
Isaiah McKinney Born and raised in the inner city (Avondale, OH), Isaiah McKinney realized early in his business career that corporate life was not for him. There was a missing element. And that missing element was ministry.
“God gave me a plan, calling me to do both business and Bible,” says Isaiah. Cincinnati Christian University (CCU) provided just such a program and an Urban Scholars Grant. During his senior year in college, Mt. Calvary Early Church of God needed an interim pastor. Isaiah became immersed in ministering to an older small-church congregation. Feeling God is moving churches to become more open and integrate into community, he understands small congregation struggles: those who are underserved, unemployed, on a fixed income.
“Every void the world leaves, the church is called and poised to fill,” explains Isaiah, now senior pastor at Mt. Calvary. He was invited to attend an At Work on Purpose event in 2011, and became inspired with its approach to Kingdom enterprise, called BIZNISTRY. Isaiah immediately understood this model would work in the inner city, and his church was poised to adopt and implement it.
Taking the church’s programs into sustainability, Mt. Calvary started Calvary Kids Learning Center. It’s now outgrown the church location—tripling in capacity. Going forward, Mt. Calvary’s nonprofit arm will run and house all BIZNISTRIES through para-church ministries. Mt. Calvary strives to be a site for life education and training—including a seminary institute.
“Workplace ministry is tantamount to church revival,” says Isaiah. “Rejuvenation is the answer to a declining church. Increasing relevancy in today’s business world meets intangible and untouchable needs.”
New Life Covenant
You might not know the term “bi-vocational” pastor in the workplace. Sadell Bradley lives it. Bi-vocational pastors choose these positions as a second job, work to fund church programming, to serve a small congregation that can’t fund a full-time pastor—or some combination of the three. Sadell’s faith and experience readily connect her to both worlds: the church and the workplace.
She is the Pastor, with her husband and Co-Pastor Sherman, at New Life Covenant Cincinnati. “God has put me through a series of what I like to call ‘spiritual management training’ situations,” said Sadell. “I’ve served in churches, as a campus missionary, for nonprofits, and in the secular workplace. I believe working in the world gives me empathy for the people I serve, and helps guide my decision making.”
Her workplace ministry resume is prolific. Sadell is currently the strategic director of Mortar, a business accelerator that trains and resources disenfranchised men and women entrepreneurs. Mortar has graduated 170 in various industries with different goals: some desire to increase their personal income; others want to build businesses that employ others. She and Sherman also served at City Gospel Mission, and currently own the poverty and diversity training companies Consider the Poor and Good Fit.
At Work on Purpose has advised the Bradleys from both a ministerial and vocational perspective. Having connected them to networking opportunities and collaborations, At Work on Purpose continues to provide ongoing resources.
“Working in business has given me great exposure as a Christ-following leader,” Sadell concludes. “I’m grateful not to have compromised who I am in the workplace.”
Northstar Community Church
Jason Scott, Activation Ministries, became deeply involved with prayer culture at Northstar Community Church (Loveland, OH). God then called him out of corporate America and into activating and igniting people for kingdom business. “For Christians lacking the holy spirit,” begins Jason, “Activation Ministries powers through and ‘activates’ people to perform what the Lord wants them to do.”
Northstar’s teaching pastor, Matt Massey, has a heart for faith in business. He encouraged Jason to bring activation into the workplace. Northstar is rapidly growing and integrating into the business community, with plans to continue building into the Activation program. The church is commissioning business people to bridge the gap between churches and businesses.
“The kingdom of God is released in business,” says Jason. “Not just with innovation and ideas, but through people actually becoming Jesus in their workplace.” He thinks people need to “see and feel Jesus” – not just read about him. After experiencing the kingdom, he’s seen those people transformed, freed, and at peace.
Jason met Chuck Proudfit through At Work on Purpose, and they are developing creative new ideas for future collaborative opportunities in Cincinnati. Jason is comfortable and confident walking into companies; offering coaching but addressing business problems with kingdom solutions. He intercedes through prayer, descipling and evangelism.
“What would you do if Jesus visited your business?” asks Jason. “How would it change?” He characterizes depression, anxiety and illness – especially in business – as “works of the devil”. Jason’s ministry to businesses often begins with listening and prayers over coffee. “And I like coffee,” he says. “A lot.”
Parkside Christian Church
Greg Orcutt, an attender and Elder at Parkside Christian Church, had been involved with At Work on Purpose for five years when he was struck by a new possibility. The faith at work concepts he was learning should be available to everyone, everywhere—and the local church needed to be part of the process.
Greg began developing a Mission2Monday training tool at Parkside Christian Church, and then worked with At Work on Purpose founder Chuck Proudfit to formally publish the content.
Mission2Monday is a small-group study series that guides participants towards faith-filled lives at work. It offers a robust, biblically-based model for application in any job or industry. All video sessions include teaching from Proudfit, with interactive discussion materials and matching handouts for the group facilitator.
“This program has affected people to the point that it has them thinking on a regular basis, ‘How can God use me today?'” said Orcutt. “This wasn’t on the forefront of their minds originally, but now they’re beginning to change their behavior and build compelling spiritual witnesses at work.”
While Mission2Monday was birthed at Parkside Christian Church, it is now in use around the world through local churches, and in a wide range of independent study groups.
“I’ve always had a heart for living out one’s faith, both in daily life and the workplace.” Director of Operations at Peoples Church, Jim Raleigh left a successful business career to answer his pastoral calling. In that role, Jim promotes an integrated life. “Realizing work is an act of worship, God honors any job done to His glory that’s not immoral or illegal.”
Jim realized his true calling in 2012, through a process of discernment. While still at PepsiCo, he considered the personal cost of continued corporate progress. Jim spent time praying, reading, and talking to others. One Sunday in church, his wife passed a note, asking if he’d thought about becoming an executive pastor. He had been considering the same thing during the week; it was confirmation from God that this needed to be explored.
People must be sure what they’re called to, in any direction.” Jim continues, “You will be totally T- boned if you try to do what God doesn’t wish. Consider the Israelites before entering the Promised Land. They were afraid. God then caused an entire generation to fall because of their disobedience. And though, he prepared the next generation to become conquerors. Good things may come from wanderings; however, you might miss out on blessings God originally planned for you.”
Your Faith at Work Calling
Jim’s scope of work at Peoples Church centers on operations: finance, accounting, human resources, facilities, leader development, etc. As part of a sermon series, the church blessed people before they left for the week; commissioning them for the workplace. The concept helped people understand they were leaving only the church building; they, themselves, are the church. Monday through Saturday, their work is sacred. There’s a tremendous opportunity—where they are—to reach people for Jesus.
When you live an integrated life, people in the workplace recognize something makes you different, Jim believes. Those differences might include:
- Being your authentic self and open to God-given opportunities, i.e., when someone has an issue
- Building personal relationships
- Helping in a crisis
- Speaking to why you have peace, when others are attracted to your believer’s life
- Explaining how you’re able to walk through your daily life
“I so appreciate what Chuck has developed through At Work on Purpose,” Jim remarks. “God uses him to develop great things and create new opportunities.”
It’s vitally important to help people lead integrated lives. We’ve all faced the dilemma: how to best balance and respond to our calling in daily life.”
White Oak Christian Church
“Sometimes, full-time pastors aren’t as well equipped to minister to and encourage business people,” says Rich Jackson, financial advisor at Jackson Wealth Strategies. That’s where Rich comes in. As a business professional, he works alongside the campus pastors at White Oak Christian Church and is a member of their teaching team.
“I speak not just from the heart, but also from experience in the workplace.” Rich encourages church-wide dialogue in breaking down walls, listening to church members tell their spiritual stories, and building awareness of ministering throughout the workforce.
Working with At Work on Purpose, Rich has learned how to connect others to Christ through work—teaching new purpose and excitement. He understands and shares church beyond Sunday; recognizing and embracing the workplace as an opportunity to minister.
“At Work on Purpose’s Mission to Monday series is just the starting point,” says Rich. His “calling” shares the hope of Christ with others, regardless of profession or position. A teacher, coach, engineer, soccer mom or bus driver—Rich believes ALL have a purpose. On Sunday mornings, he encourages the congregation to “people pastor”, and meet everyone where they are (or aren’t). Knowing that people, when they open the door, give him permission to enter their spiritual lives.
People who walk through Rich’s door expect financial guidance, not a spiritual encounter. In his business suit, seated behind his desk, Rich inspires another kind of guidance to the workplace, as well as Christians in the local church.
Whitewater Crossing Church
Dr. Tom Thatcher, Dean of the Russell School of Ministry at Cincinnati Christian University (CCU), has been teaching seminary students for over 20 years. He trains people entering ministry, in various denominations and destinations.
Tom secured a grant-funded initiative to start CCU’s “Center for Church Leadership”. It’s a support network for regional congregations and their staff. The Center’s focus is on reducing pastor and layperson attrition.
“Initially, we envisioned building a network of 200 tristate churches within three years,” says Tom. “We now have over 500 churches in the network, responding to a groundswell need.”
Tom initially connected with At Work on Purpose to create workplace ministry synergies with CCU’s business school graduates. It’s grown to become a flourishing partnership for a series of faith/work initiatives, as both are focused on the intersection of the Christian University, the local church, and the workplace ministry movement.
Tom is an ordained minister and currently an active member at Whitewater Crossing Church, Cincinnati. He’s also chief analyst of Elemental Churches, a consulting group to local church leadership teams. Tom has served on numerous research committees in the Society of Biblical Literature and authored/edited 20 books on the New Testament. He edits an academic series of books, and regularly writes mass-market, adult curriculum materials.