“Bands at Work” is about small groups in the workplace
Simple things can change the world around you. And small groups in the workplace is one of them: a Christian support group in the place you spend most of your time – at work.
A Bands workplace group will encourage you, and help you to encourage others. But it could take you beyond that – helping to change you, your fellow members and your place of work.
The idea we propose here is loosely based on John Wesley’s idea that Christians are better equipped to live radical, honest and accountable lives if they meet regularly in small groups. Today, this style of small groups has proved immensely helpful to many workers, as we hope you will experience.
- The vision
- Suggested template for meeting
- Maximum kingdom influence
- Values of Bands workplace groups
- Beliefs of Bands workplace groups
- Frequently asked questions
The kingdom of God will become more evident in our society as more ‘ordinary’ Christians learn how to become more fully the person God wants them to be – wherever they are.
That’s not just at church on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. It’s 9 to 5 too, Monday to Friday, every week of the year.
The Bands workplace groups idea works for two main reasons: first, it offers you a place in which you can be real with other people about the challenges you face at work; second, it helps a group of people work together for a purpose.
It’s about creating a community of Christians who pray and work together, for maximum kingdom influence in our offices, schools, factories and hospitals.
This is not the only answer. But it’s a valuable part of the overall contribution we’re all trying to make in today’s world of work.
We believe the following provides an effective format to build authentic relationships and initiate change at work.
The simple template is the three ‘P’s of Presence, Pressure and Purpose:
1. Acknowledge Christ’s PRESENCE
When you meet, spend a short time praying and/or reading the Bible. This welcomes the presence and power of Jesus to your meeting.
2. Share the PRESSURES
Your chance to share a pressure that you or your colleagues are facing at home or work. It’s a time to be real, among people more likely to understand the pressures, temptations and challenges of your workplace.
3. Pursue the PURPOSE
This is when you seek God’s heart for your workplace and for the people that work alongside you. It’s when you look outwards, not inwards – to pursue change in each other, in your colleagues, and in the way things are done around here… What, you might ask, is God doing already? How does God want to use you? How can you ‘bless’ those around you? How can you share the gospel? How can you encourage one another?
When we speak of ‘kingdom influence’, what do we mean? We mean praying together and working together purposefully to see the kingdom of God come – even in the workplace.
We mean a kingdom:
- Where Jesus is present, and his presence makes a difference.
- Where there is justice, righteousness and peace.
- That we know has not yet fully arrived, and yet is nevertheless with us.
- That comes through a battle against evil, and yet love for individuals.
- Where much is leavened by little.
- Where all of God’s children are blessed, whether they know him or not.
- Where salvation by multiplication, rather than just occasional addition, becomes more possible, even in the workplace.
Jesus promises to exchange our heavy burden for his light yoke. The Bible does not make an exception for those who work. It is no more of a burden to be part of a small group at work than it is to be with friends over coffee.
It’s not a question of doing more, it’s a question of doing the same differently.
Are we saying your workplace will be transformed overnight? Not necessarily.
Will his kingdom definitely arrive if we make the right plans? No, our God does not respond to a formula.
But what we can promise you is that as we learn to trust God more in our daily working lives he will inhabit and fulfil his promises.
This idea isn’t so much about the way we do things – methods can vary – but the shared values that motivate us to do them. Here’s a short summary:
1 Jesus at the centre
There’s no aspect of our lives, or of the problems in our workplace, with which Jesus is not concerned. He must be at the centre of all that we do, and of all the solutions that we can offer.
Without honesty there’s no reality, and without reality there’s no personal change. As we admit our weaknesses, others can start to hold us accountable. As we make ourselves vulnerable, we can find forgiveness and renewal for the future.
Personal change is foundational to our faith. We must be committed to change, even if it’s costly or painful. God, however, is not just concerned about individuals, but about the institutions, structures and systems in which we work. As Christians we have a mandate to change the values around us so that all may benefit from the peace, justice and righteousness of God’s kingdom.
4 Equipped for the workplace
The church is called to equip the saints for works of service. We can aspire to equip one another to serve Christ in the workplace as well as in the church.
5 Outward looking
Sharing Jesus with our co-workers involves more than just proclaiming ‘truth’. We must discover together how to build relationships with our friends that help us to share Christ in a relevant and appropriate way.
6 Sacrificial love
In a working environment which centres so much around ‘self’, what greater example can there be than a life that’s lived for others? The challenge is to demonstrate a love that puts others first, even in the workplace.
Beliefs of Bands workplace groups
Let us consider three foundational beliefs:
1 That when two or three people get together, Jesus is present with them.
If we want to demonstrate Christ at work, we also need to meet with him and experience his presence. Both the Bible and our experience make it clear that there is an added dimension to following Jesus when we seek after him corporately.
2 That Jesus calls us to be like yeast and mustard seeds in the workplace.
We are all catalysts for change – like yeast that ‘leavens’ dough. We can affect our workplace for good through our words and actions. The kingdom of heaven, Jesus said, is like a tiny mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but becomes the largest of plants…
3 That we are called to bless, not condemn. Jesus’ message, expressed through his words and actions, was about reconciliation and blessing.
The question is not just ‘How can we share the gospel?’, but ‘How can we bless others and actually be good news to our colleagues?’
How is this different from a normal Bible study or prayer group?
A Bands workplace group is based on personal openness and outwardly focussed community. It aims to avoid the pitfalls of academic discussion or focus on self. It recognises the importance of other resources and relationships.
I’m not a leader…
This does not need a leader – it needs a facilitator. A Bands small group recognises the value of the God-given contribution that every member of the group can make. It is a key part of the process that every member takes responsibility.
How can I make a difference in my workplace? I’m just the tea boy!
We all have colleagues in the workplace. Our influence comes not from our position but from our willingness to help shepherd the flock that is already around us.
How do I start?
Pray first, then talk to your Christian colleagues at work or nearby. It’s worth investing a good amount of time going over the beliefs and values outlined above. It may take a while before you shed old habits you’ve picked up from other groups. Why not set an initial period for the group to operate of, say, nine months? This gives everyone an opportunity to make a graceful exit or to re-evaluate and move forward.
How often should we meet?
A Bands small group is primarily about relationships, not meetings. Friends do not have meetings, they call each other, they lunch together, they email each other, they share sadnesses and joys as they happen. It is, however, good to set aside a time each week or each fortnight to meet for, say, one hour to go through the three Ps of Presence, Pressure and Purpose.
How many should be in the group?
We suggest not less than three (there’s something about the third that keeps things on track) and probably not more than five or six. This is for two reasons: first, it allows each person to participate fully within what is often a limited amount of time and, secondly, it minimises the amount of organisation needed to get the group together.
How can I trust them?
Everyone should agree to keep confidential everything that is shared. Trust builds over time.
Should we all be the same sort of people?
There are advantages and disadvantages. Same sex, same seniority and same employer can mean you’ll relate to each other quicker. On the other hand, there is nothing like difference to keep us out of the rut. You decide.
How will I know if it’s working?
We suggest you don’t measure things by the numbers attending (remember the size of the mustard seed) or the quality of your meetings (we’re here to bring in the kingdom, not to hold services). The test is simple: are the members of your group telling each other stories of having seen the Kingdom come in their workplace?