For 60 years, I was a pastor-teacher in the church. For whatever reason, I never found much company in professional ‘clergy’ but was more comfortable with the folk who were engaged in their various professions. I walked hospital rounds with medical students, drank gallons of coffee with a cross section of fun people, went on long-day’s sales trip with a salesman, and so many more.

Along the way I became a close friend and co-collaborator in some projects with a guy who was a major laser-technology whiz, and who owned his own company in that field. It was he (Bob) who would ultimately brain-wash me on the ministry of the laity in the workplace. He would never let me equivocate on that subject. He, in turn, had been formed by some mutual friends who were advocates of this thesis, and which thesis was initiated significantly in some major contributions on that subject sponsored by the World Council of Churches after World War II. Along the way, Bob and I were to be a part of an ecumenical pilgrimage to Rome and the Vatican to discuss this theme (and evangelism) with members of the Vatican staff after Vatican II had named a new office having to do with the ministry of the laity. On that trip, in off hours, he and roamed the streets of Rome and he became my mentor on this subject.

I have never been the same since those days. I have subsequently seen my role in the church of equipping God’s people for their ministry in the workplace, or wherever their 24/7 lives found them. I thought of that last Sunday when I was being interviewed by my pastor, and looked out from that platform at all those people out there listening to the interview, and   thinking of the enormous potential influence residing in that room, if those gatherings of God’s people were encouraging and equipping them for that 24/7 ministry. They were the ones who were the church in daily confrontation with those whom Christ loves, and to whom Christ sends us. I was looking at young parents, educators, film-makers, accountants, environmentalists, physical therapists, physicians and medical personnel, architects, high school students, … so many more. It was the awesome potential of those children of the Light who would be in daily confrontation with the dominion of darkness that Jesus came to seek and to save.

And on this week of my 90th birthday, I have been continually reminded as I received love notes from friends from years back, who were products of that ministry of mine. Here’s one: In my New Orleans years, there was a colorful pair of contagious personalities, who had led fractured lives, been through divorces, and then came to faith in Christ, found each other. I performed their wedding, and became their mentor. They were contagious with their new-found faith, and both held significant positions in the business world. They, in turn, met a young Cajun lady working as cashier (or something) in a French Quarter night club, and with whom they established a relationship, and discovered that she was looking for meaning for her life. They recruited me to come and meet her. She found Christ, and I became, not only her spiritual father, but her mentor. She grew and became a wonderful friend, and a fruitful witness herself, in a colorful career – all because my two friends were alert to the people they met in their daily lives (and a night club!). I received a love note from this spiritual daughter this week, now back in the bayous of south Louisiana. It again reinforces my passion to be an equipper of God’s people for their ministry in the workplace.

I hope the Blog may, itself, be an agent of creating in my readers this understanding. Addiction to hanging out in many church meetings is a subversion of our calling. It’s the 24/7 world that is or place of ministry and obedience and love. Peace!

About rthenderson

Sixty years a pastor-teacher within the Presbyterian Church. Author of several books, the latest of which are a trilogy on missional ecclesiology: ENCHANTED COMMUNITY: JOURNEY INTO THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH, then, REFOUNDING THE CHURCH FROM THE UNDERSIDE, then THE CHURCH AND THE RELENTLESS DARKNESS. Previous to this trilogy was A DOOR OF HOPE: SPIRITUAL CONFLICT IN PASTORAL MINISTRY, and SUBVERSIVE JESUS, RADICAL FAITH. I am a native of West Palm Beach, Florida, a graduate of Davidson College, then of Columbia and Westminster Theological Seminaries.
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  1. Dottie Coltrane says:

    Happy birthday, Bob! I did not remember the exact date for celebrating your arrival in this world, but thought it was this month. As Al said when I him, “I hope I am as sharp as Bob is when I reach 90.” You are remarkable, insightful, and such a good writer. We look forward to your blog posts, and we always learn from them.

  2. Roger Vieth says:

    I am so grateful that I was one of those medical personal you toned with. I shall eternally be changed into a Kingdom person because of you Bob
    Much love
    Roger Vieth

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