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Religion at Work

CNN.com has this interesting article up about religion in the workplace. They mention Corporate Chaplains of America, which I'd never heard of before.

Excerpt:
"Rob Skinner did not expect to find a chaplain in the office when he started his sales job at Piedmont Air Conditioning in Raleigh, North Carolina. "I was a little worried because I didn't want God shoved down my throat," says Skinner, 38, a self-described liberal Christian.

Turns out Dwayne Reece, from the nonprofit, nondenominational Corporate Chaplains of America -- which provides Christian chaplains for companies that request them -- offered encouraging words instead.

Piedmont had hired him after the death of an employee, and it worked out so well, he's been visiting for nine years. "Having him there really makes you feel that the company cares," Skinner says.

Religion, like sex and politics, once was considered inappropriate watercooler talk. Not anymore. Prayer sessions, religious diversity groups and chaplains like Reece, along with rabbis and imams, have become more common across corporate America in the past decade."

What do you think? Obviously, as a pastor, I don't have to worry about how to fit religion into my profession in this sense. And in fact, including most of my part-time and summer jobs, I've hardly ever worked in a way totally unconnected to the church. Maybe when I was a lifeguard at the Y in high-school, but even the Y has Christian foundations. What about those of you who work in other settings? Do you think there is space for your faith in your workplace? Have you encountered a corporate chaplain?

Comments

klh said…
I found that people were really welcoming to my personal expressions of faith. I made a little sign with some biblical verses on it to encourage myself, and I put it on my desk. People loved it. They commented on it all the time. People at this work place gossiped continuously about one another, and I never really knew how to get out of it. So I started saying, "That is really too bad that such-and-such is in such a situation! I'm going to pray for him/her" or the like. Again, people responded really well to this. They really treated it like fresh, cool water in a dry and weary land. This is not to say that everyone loved me - they didn't. But even still I continuously sensed a certain respect from everyone I encountered. I had people coming to me regularly to ask me to pray for them, to talk with me about faith issues, and such. I remember one lady - a Mormon - saying to me one day after she had heard some particularly good news, "You keep praying! It's doing good for all of us!" The next day she had a terrible day and was really deflated by the fact that apparently my praying wasn't going to mean all roses for everyone always. But, in any case, I found that it was really easy to be a witness for Christ so long as I wasn't defensive or worried about it. I worked hard to live "above reproach" and to "commend myself to the conscience of everyone." And it really seemed to work. The one thing that really freaked some people out - particularly the other Christians I worked with - was that I often tried to spend my lunch hour with the homeless (this was in a downtown area) and talk with them about what maybe the church could do for them. But as totally weird and over-the-top as they viewed this, they couldn't come up with any way of describing this as wrong. I was happy to leave this job when the time came - it was SUCH boring and unfulfilling office work. And I remember praying often for my former co-workers for a long time after leaving. And I did feel like a fish out of water there. But I found it to be true what Paul says in 2 Corinthians, that wherever we go through us God spreads the aroma that comes from knowing him - the aroma of death to those who are perishing and the aroma of life to those who are being saved.
Eric Helms said…
I have run into the concept of corporate chaplain before, and even looked into being one before committing to pastoral ministry. While there might be a constructive role, I don't like the idea of hiring a chaplain to serve as the professional compassionate person on board. Is the role of a Christian chaplain not to offer the gospel in every respect? For instance, shouldn't a chaplain be at least as involved in reviewing business ethics as attending to the pastoral needs of employees? Perhaps chaplains can meet religious needs for employees who are not able to take holidays that are not recognized by the company--ash wednesday, maundy thursday, good friday for example.
Eric Helms said…
ps--I was thinking the same thing about the age issue yesterday. I was pleased that the multi-cultural discussion was so broad. I think in our profession and in the church age and life stage play really important cultural roles.
Anonymous said…
Actually, Eric, there are corporate chaplains whose responsibilities are to ask the ethical questions as well as provide pastoral care. Granted it takes a special kind of CEO for this to happen but it does happen.
Eric Helms said…
Great--good to hear. That would take a special CEO. I know that many hospitals with chaplains include them on ethics committees.
Anonymous said…
The person I replaced is now working as a full-time workplace chaplain at a factory where several church members work. From what I'm hearing, they really appreciate his ministry.
wes said…
I worked in a printing plant for several summers, one in which my father also worked during the same time that he was a part-time local pastor. I found that the people who worked there needed the spiritual comfort and direction a pastor could bring almost more than any other work place I've been it. Part of that may have to do with the fact that your working graveyard shifts in which you have plenty of time to think about your life and the direction its going (or lack thereof). Unfortunately the company didn't feel it was necessary to have chaplains and even put a stop to bible studies during break time.

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