We spend a lot of time at work. The average American in the workforce spends more time working than any other single activity. That’s more time than they spend at home, more time than they spend with family, and even more time than they spend sleeping. That the workplace provides the most accessible evangelistic opportunities in most people’s lives just adds up. But it’s not that easy. Work and faith can be notoriously difficult to integrate. Having spiritual conversations and sharing the gospel can feel like cutting against the grain.
Of course, there’s more to bringing the gospel to work than looking for chances to talk about Christ, but there is certainly not less. Making the most of gospel opportunities requires three things: relationships, stories, and perseverance.
We are designed for relationships. Our interests, passions, skills, and even our education and work experience open up worlds of relational connection. The fact that we work with someone means we already have one point of contact. Sometimes that’s all it takes. As C.S. Lewis observed, a friendship begins the moment you say, “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
These connections bring excitement and camaraderie to our work lives. Friendships make team projects more successful, busy seasons more bearable, and our company’s mission and culture more palpable. As Christians, we can celebrate healthy friendships and relational cultures as good in and of themselves. Life is so much more fun when you enjoy the people you work with.
Relationships also create the conditions God often uses to bring people to himself. While it can be difficult, and in some situations inappropriate, to have spiritual conversations with colleagues and coworkers, building friendships allows us to have those conversations outside of the office. We can invite friends over for dinner, out for coffee, or to come with us to church. Think of work as the starting point, not the only opportunity.
When you’re friends with someone, you talk about what matters to you. Marketers and advertisers long to get people talking about their products naturally and openly. If you’re really affected by something, you will talk about it. Passion is contagious. When you’ve been redeemed by Jesus Christ and you’re following him, it’s impossible not to talk about what he’s doing in your life.
Christ’s encounter with a man from Gerasa in Mark 5 captures the power of telling your story. After an exhausting string of miracles, healings, and the constant pressure of the crowd, Jesus and the disciples sail across the Sea of Galilee. Soon a great storm threatens to sink the ship, but Jesus calms the wind and waves with a single word. Only a few minutes after coming to shore—you can almost see the disciples slowly getting their bearings after the storm—Jesus and his disciples find themselves face to face with a crazed, demon-possessed man rapidly making his way toward them. Jesus confronts the man, casts out the legion of demons, and causes a stir across the countryside. When the people from the nearby village beg Jesus to leave their region, the disciples prepare to get back in the boat.
As I was preparing to preach this text a couple of weeks ago, I was struck by what I had once considered to be an innocuous detail at the end of the story. As Jesus and the disciples are readying the boat for the journey back across the sea, the man who had been possessed by the demons tries to get in the boat with them. As the others pass by, Jesus stops this man and forbids him from leaving with them. Then, Jesus gives him a very specific mission: “And he did not permit him but said to him, ‘Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’” (Mark 5:19).
Now the gospel was personal. He had his own story to tell. Sharing what God has done for us is not the same as sharing the gospel, but it can make it so much easier and so much more compelling. Our stories illustrate the gospel, showcasing God’s power in such a way that the people who know us want what we have. It gives them the confidence that when we tell them that Jesus died for sinners, rose again, and will return, they can be included in this story of redemption.
Bringing the gospel to work means taking the long view. Trust takes time, and there’s a lot of opportunity for discouragement. Fear, embarrassment, and doubt often keep us from stepping into moments of opportunity. It takes wisdom to know how to approach different conversations and different people.
At the end of Colossians, Paul does something he does not do very often: he asks the church to pray specifically for him. “Pray for us,” he writes, “that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ” (Colossians 4:3). Paul was in prison for preaching the gospel, but he was still looking for opportunities to share it with the people around him. It’s so encouraging to see Paul asking for prayers to be bold, and it’s a reminder that we need the Spirit’s help to identify opportunities and to have the courage to take them.
Build relationships with your coworkers, look for opportunities to share what God is doing in your life, and don’t be discouraged if it takes time. The prayer Paul asked the Colossians to pray for him is as good now as it was then: Lord, we ask for doors to open to share the mystery of Christ with our friends and coworkers. Help us to be clear, wise, and gracious so that we can be ready to talk about what you have done for us and share the gospel with anyone who needs to hear it.
 C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, 65.