As someone who works full-time in the tech industry, and as someone who is planting a church in my spare time, I have often found myself asking the question "What does it look like to live for Jesus in Atlanta Monday through Saturday?"
I am far more shaped by the rhythms of work and life that I find myself in day in and day out, week after week than I am shaped by the sermons that I hear on Sundays for just an hour (or for 15 minutes if you're from a high church tradition). So are you. So are all of us.
Having worked in the tech industry for two years now, I've noticed that Christian faith does not tend to penetrate the culture day to day. Don't get me wrong; there are amazing Christian men and women who live out their faith in the workplace. I'm not saying that faith isn't present there. What I'm saying is that there is a constant grind, a constant series of demands and deliverables from clients who may or may not be emotionally healthy in the way that they deal with other human beings, and constant upheaval as those requirements shift and change. I am fortunate that many of the clients I have worked with have been really great. However, no one escapes the emotional, physical, and spiritual effects of the daily grind.
As a Reformed pastor, I place a high value on preaching and teaching, especially over months of sermons that repeatedly emphasize spiritual truths in a fresh way. I do believe that, over time, sermons can shape the faith and practice of congregations in powerful ways. Even so, by 10 A.M. Monday morning I've usually forgotten the application of the sermon I heard the day before. It comes back to me later sometimes, but it's overshadowed many times by the demands of my workplace.
That's why I have developed the TABLE lifestyle as part of my Rule of Life and have started living it out. It has transformed the way I plan my week, the way I relate to my colleagues at work, and the way I connect with people throughout the work week. It keeps Jesus at the forefront of my mind as I navigate the relationships, deliverables, and unexpected things that come my way, and it looks like this:
T - I will live a lifestyle of Two-Plus Apprenticeship. I am always looking for the two or more people that God has placed in my daily life that I can apprentice and teach to walk with Jesus.
A - I will adopt at least one ethnos that God has called me to reach with my Missional Community Every ministry has a target demographic, whether it is acknowledged or not. All of us have limited time, resources, and energy as human beings, and none of us can be all things to all people. For me, my ethnoi are the people I work with in Atlanta's business district and the many ethnicities represented in the neighborhood where I live.
B - I will live out the BELLS habits described in Michael Frost's book Surprise the World. In a nutshell, it means that I Bless three people each week (one of whom is not a Christian), Eat with three people each week (one of whom is not a Christian), Listen to the Holy Spirit, Learn Christ by getting into the Gospels, and journal throughout the week about how God is Sending me to bring awareness of His Kingdom to those around me. BELLS is one of the most full-orbed missional Rules of Life that I have ever encountered, and I highly recommend reading through Frost's book if you have not heard of it until now.
L - I will Listen to the Holy Spirit in a dedicated listening prayer time once per week. "But wait!" you say. "Isn't that already part of BELLS?" Yes, it is. It's in there twice for two reasons: (1) I want to emphasize the importance of listening to the Holy Spirit, and (2) I really wanted my Rule of Life to spell TABLE. TABE just doesn't have the same ring to it. If you want bonus points, why not listen to the Holy Spirit twice each week?
E - I will enjoy God each week. Because if you're not enjoying God in your walk with Jesus, you're doing it wrong! As Nehemiah said to Israel when rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem: "The joy of the LORD is your strength."
Many people are looking for a way to connect with Jesus throughout the week, and not just on Sunday, but our churches have failed to show them how to live day in and day out for Jesus. A TABLE lifestyle not only emphasizes the importance of a lifestyle of apprenticeship, listening to God, blessing those around you, and reflecting on how God is at work in your life; it also teaches people to live out these things with their actions by creating missional lifestyle habits.
Acting our way into a new way of thinking (what I, Frost, and others are suggesting) can be just as effective or more effective than thinking our way into a new way of acting (what we usually try to do in Western churches, often with mixed results). In fact, I would say that Jesus apprenticed the Twelve Disciples by doing both simultaneously. Since we live in a culture that seems so easy to lose ourselves in as it surges ahead, I think it's now time for thinking Christians to rediscover these missional daily habits.
These practices are changing my life. I pray that you will join in practicing them with me, and I pray they will change yours too.