Church on Sunday, Work on Monday: The Challenge of Fusing Christian Values with Business Life / Edition 1

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Overview

Must business people leave their Christian values at church?

While many business people have a strong and growing interest in the relationship between work and spirit, few find the church to be a resource in their explorations. How can business people live out their faith at work? And how can the church respond more effectively to business people s needs?

Church on Sunday, Work on Monday takes the "spirituality at work" movement to the next level, offering practical advice on how business people can find and develop better resources within Christian communities. Nash andMcLennan assess the distance between pew and pulpit, articulate how the church is turning off business and professional people, and make concrete recommendations on how church leaders and lay business people can work together in partnership to bridge the gap. They also offer practical help for business people who wish to nurture the soul, create harmony, connect with community, and perform ethically on the job.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“…insightful analysis and practical suggestions…” (Faith in Business Quarterly, Winter 2003/4)

According to McLennan (author of Finding Your Religion and inspiration for Doonesbury's Rev. Scott Sloan) and Nash, the church manages to support and nurture its people through birth, marriage and death; when it comes to helping Christians make sense of the day-to-day grind of the business world, however, churches are too often silent. It is vital for the future of the church, and for the well-being of Christian business-fold, that churches and parishioners find a way to talk meaningfully about the connections between faith and work. Clergy in particular will value this book, which is filled with tips to help them minister more effectively to the businesspeople in their midst. For example, the authors suggest that seminaries should offer more "exposure to the character of the businessperson," and that clergy should attend the occasional business seminar. This would have been a stronger book if the authors had restrained themselves from stuffing it with familiar but uninspired self-help suggestions for "reflection" and "action" at the end of each chapter, or cutesy mnemonics like "the four P's." It is hardly the final word on the subject; its riveting descriptions of the glaring gulch between church and business are more compelling than its attempts at bridging that gulch, making this more "wake-up call" than solution. Still, McLennan and Nash have made a valuable contribution to the growing conversation about church-life integration, and clergy especially shouldn't miss this book. (Oct.) (Publishers Weekly, October 1, 2001)

"This intelligent, provocative book is a rare study that takes both religion and business seriously, and it has insights for people of all faiths." (Harvard Business Review, November 2001)

4 out of 5 stars (Church of England Newspaper, 21 December 2001)

Harvard Business Review
This intelligent, provocative book is a rare study that takes both religion and business seriously, and it has insights for people of all faiths.
Publishers Weekly
According to McLennan (author of Finding Your Religion and inspiration for Doonesbury's Rev. Scott Sloan) and Nash, the church manages to support and nurture its people through birth, marriage and death; when it comes to helping Christians make sense of the day-to-day grind of the business world, however, churches are too often silent. It is vital for the future of the church, and for the well-being of Christian business-folk, that churches and parishioners find a way to talk meaningfully about the connections between faith and work. Clergy in particular will value this book, which is filled with tips to help them minister more effectively to the businesspeople in their midst. For example, the authors suggest that seminaries should offer more "exposure to the character of the businessperson," and that clergy should attend the occasional business seminar. This would have been a stronger book if the authors had restrained themselves from stuffing it with familiar but uninspired self-help suggestions for "reflection" and "action" at the end of each chapter, or cutesy mnemonics like "the four P's." It is hardly the final word on the subject; its riveting descriptions of the glaring gulch between church and business are more compelling than its attempts at bridging that gulch, making this more "wakeup call" than solution. Still, McLennan and Nash have made a valuable contribution to the growing conversation about church-life integration, and clergy especially shouldn't miss this book. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780787956981
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/24/2001
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Laura Nash is senior research fellow at Harvard Business School. Prior to this position, she was visiting lecturer and program director on business and religion at the Center for the Study of Values in Public Life at Harvard Divinity School. She is the author of Good Intentions Aside and Believers in Business. In 1998 she was president of the Society of Business Ethics.

Scotty McLennan is dean for religious life at Stanford University. He was the university chaplain at Tufts University and a senior lecturer in the area of business leadership, ethics, and religion at Harvard Business School. He is also an attorney, the author of Finding Your Religion: When the Faith You Grew Up With Has Lost Its Meaning.

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Read an Excerpt


Chapter One


Spirituality Goes
to Work, the Church
Stays Away


Religious Disconnects
in American Business Lives


I see many tensions between my Christian beliefs and what I do at work, and I feel deeply responsible to be a "good Christian" in my daily life. But my pastor is the last person I'd discuss this with.
—Protestant businessperson


We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience." So the Covey Leadership Center facilitator advised the twenty-two businesspeople and professionals sitting before him in the spring of 1997, quoting the late Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

    We were in the first few minutes of a three-day "principle-centered leadership" workshop dedicated to improving managerial and organizational effectiveness. During our time together, the facilitator would recite the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi in its entirety, refer more than once to his experiences as a Presbyterian youth minister, explain how to bring love into the workplace, examine the role of personal conscience, and describe in some depth the spiritual dimension of life in relation to the physical, emotional, and intellectual. However, this management seminar—and all of the Covey Leadership Center's work—is explicitly secular, not religious. The public relations manager at Covey's headquarters in Provo, Utah, told us: "We are not a religious organization. The principles we teach are universal and can be found in virtually all traditions, secular and religious."

    No doubt about it: there has been a sea change in the way businesspeople are approaching the problems of business and work. Spirituality—however defined—is now a popular resource for business needs, whether for sparking creativity or for being a better person on the job. Tap a search engine for business and spirituality, and fifteen hundred Web sites are likely to pop up.

    The dry, hyperrational paradigms that long held sway over financial decision making have failed to inspire or even adequately source nonrational intelligence, or satisfy the universal need for personal meaning—dynamics that were patently beneath the surface of seemingly impersonal market forces. New spirituality programs and their gurus—such as Covey, Deepak Chopra, Robert Greenleaf, and others—are engaged in a strong partnership with the business community, as evidenced by the popularity of corporate seminars and the abundance of bestsellers aimed at transforming the lives of businesspeople. Some form of spiritual practice can be found in most business settings today: people meditating at their desks, calling on faith to help them stay the course during hard times, silently calling on angels, acting out of faith-based compassion, or simply striving for a Buddha-like mindfulness. At more than one company, meetings begin with the lighting of a candle to "focus" the group mentally and emotionally. Office rooms are reserved for meditation and quiet time. Companies sponsor dramatic retreats for executives and distribute commonsense guidelines for holistic living.

    Despite all this spiritual interest, mainstream Christianity has not been a notable force in the businessperson's pilgrimage. Traditional mainstream religion, it seems, has failed to deliver on the desire for experiential, personalized ways of knowing God in one's work.

    This is not to say that businesspeople do not consider themselves Christians. Ironically, the majority of church members in mainstream Protestant congregations are middle-class people who spend most of their waking hours at a business or are married to people in business. They are looking for ways to live their Christian beliefs and values at work, as they do at home and at church. Yet when they look to the church for guidance, they find one of two responses: clergy who are indifferent to the idea or who are wildly interested but stumped as to how to begin. As we discovered in our interviews, even deeply faithful Christians in business tend to feel a strong disconnect between their experience of the church or private faith, and the spirit-challenging conditions of the workplace:

    • A prominent business leader in his sixties, very active in Catholic charity work, asks, "Can't the church offer just a little more help to those of us who want to be good Catholics at work?"

    • A liberal Protestant manager in her forties stops at an Episcopal monastery to pray several times a week. She reports that this practice gives her "spiritual focus." She is convinced that it helps her at work, but she cannot be more specific.

    • A Christian-Buddhist computer engineer is unaffiliated with any formal church but attends several services and meditation sessions around the city. He takes his spirituality very seriously but does not want to entrust its guidance to any clerical authority: "They mean well, but they don't understand the world I live in. I don't get much from church."

    • The owner of a medium-sized insurance agency organizes a monthly prayer-and-discussion session at lunchtime for a group of businesspeople from a variety of Christian denominations. He feels the sessions are a personal ministry to "people in pain, people who want to do the right thing but who feel abandoned and lost in their workplace." His pastor is enthusiastic about this effort but has never attended a session.

    • An accountant in his mid-forties suddenly decides to take time off to attend divinity school. Though he has never been asked to cheat or lie at work, his company cultivates a doggedly dehumanized culture. He has no desire to be a preacher but wants to enrich his understanding of religion and theology. He would like to devote himself to some other kind of business with a different balance of values, and he hopes that divinity school will reawaken his spiritual life and help prepare him for the task of applying his Christian faith more actively to his business work. So far, he hasn't seen the connection.


    Plainly, businesspeople of faith are seeking a deeper spiritual life and a greater degree of integration of faith and work. Some are in deep despair, stressed by financial and family issues. Unable to access the inner peace they believe is possible, they strive to recover their souls. Others have experienced financial success but are dissatisfied by the wealth. They want something more out of life than a paycheck—both for themselves and for those less fortunate who seem abandoned or even abused by the economic system. Some are outraged by unethical business practices, or by the morality of their leaders; they want to follow a higher standard of conduct, one presumably closer to a religious ethic. Others seek community, or increased effectiveness in their lives, or help in creating a leadership vision from that uplifting connection to the divine we call inspiration.

    For regular churchgoers and unchurched nonpracticing believers alike, career maturity has not necessarily brought equivalent spiritual maturity. They express feelings of radical disconnection between Sunday services and Monday morning activities, describing a sense of living in two worlds that never touch each other. When they are deeply involved in business affairs, they long for the settings that have in the past occasioned deep spiritual faith and certainty about what is right from a religious standpoint. But when they retire to an overtly sacred state of mind, they are unable to see a way to carry out the real-world goals they feel are important. The changing world of business poses problems their religious upbringing never touched on.

    This split poses significant psychological and moral uncertainty. The spiritual questers politely dismiss the church from intruding on their lives and entertain reservations about its ability to offer practical advice. They struggle with how they can act on, articulate, and symbolize Christian spirituality within a secular social context. To disguise faith seems inauthentic, but taking it out of the closet may provoke conflict or accusations of being inappropriate. As businesspeople struggle with these problems, they rarely look to the church for help. As we heard in the epigraph that opens this chapter, the words of one executive are echoed by many others: "I see many tensions between my Christian beliefs and what I do at work, and I feel deeply responsible to be a `good Christian' in my daily life. But my pastor is the last person I'd discuss this with."

    Despite his affection for many aspects of his church, this man has taken his spiritual development into his own hands. He feels that to do otherwise invites a conflict with his pastor that would be extremely painful to them both. In making this choice, he cuts himself off from the possibility of fully supporting the church and being supported by it. How much easier it is to patch in secular spirituality, with its empowering claims of being able to evoke many of the states of consciousness associated with religion: peak experience, "flow," a transformational frame of consciousness, emotional and physical wellness, and new cognitive skills.

    For many reasons (which we explore in later chapters), the ecclesiastics have in large part found it difficult to adopt such a supportive relationship to business-centered activity. Their reluctance, however justified in their own theological terms, may miss the main import of the business and spirituality movement: it is not the ruthless ethic of excessive greed that is the church's chief competitor in the struggle for people's souls; it is the new spirituality-in-business movement that has taken hold with such vigor.


Making It Up as We Go Along


The surprising force with which the concept of spirituality struck a chord among businesspeople in the 1990s has caused many Americans to revise their understanding of work, performance, and the good life. Starved for meaning and eager for new sources of power in their working lives, they are not willing to remain hungry. Today, whether basking in sudden wealth or hurting from new competition, businesspeople actively seek new clues and mental paradigms to solve the frightening quandaries and meaning of the global, cybernetic economy. In the midst of this search, they are particularly drawn to spirituality in its many forms, hoping for self-awareness, meaning, moral goodness, and effectiveness in their vocational activities.

    With remarkable determination, businesspeople are making it up as they go along, relying on authorities outside their religious tradition, and hoping for a cognitive leap of faith between these frameworks and their religious belief. They use code words to cope with the distance: calling themselves spiritual but not religious, or citing their denominational affiliation but saying it should be separated from their work life. Underlying this phenomenon is the new blending of domestic and working life that forms the reality of most American workers today. The social cosmologies that marked the early church have collapsed in terms of gender, race, and vocational hierarchies. Americans now entertain the possibility of holistic, personalized religious experience in all walks of life. To many, this is not a lesser religious goal; it is religion—and in a form that has meaning in daily affairs.


Where's the Clergy?


Even when clergy, congregants, and the general business population hold the same concerns about the challenges of economic life, they cannot share these concerns with each other. Instead, they maintain a polite but distanced relationship. Congregants in business who said they felt very close to their pastors on issues of family, personal well-being, or community outreach told us a different story when it came to their role as businesspeople. Here they often felt ignored, disdained, or simply beyond the comprehension and experience of most clergy.

    One man's comment is quite representative: "You have to expect the clergy to haul you over the coals a little. Otherwise, why would you go to church? To be told you're doing everything right? But when you hear this stuff, it's just so off base. They don't understand what business does. It's such a turn off!"

    Such sentiments are a tragic glimpse into the extreme sense of separation that many businesspeople feel concerning the moral authority and personal sustenance of the church. The church's skepticism over the more commercialized or cooptive forms of spiritual guidance can be well justified; but its often-dismissive response to the layperson's optimistic desire to integrate faith and career is not. In fact, this attitude may be the largest act of self-marginalization mainstream churches have ever engaged in.

    Why has the church failed to develop an engaging response to the interest in spirituality that businesspeople are exhibiting? What is preventing active integration of Christian principles and religious consciousness in businesspeople's lives, in the workplace as well as in the home and community?

    Many of the ecclesiastics whom we interviewed did not realize how deeply they were distanced from practical economic dilemmas, or why the Church was not a more significant influence on the business culture. Strong in their own distaste for the false god of the marketplace, they failed to see their own participation in cutting the church off from significant parts of the lay Christian community.

    Indeed, many clergy reported that they felt ignored or simply powerless to have a significant impact on businesspeople, but they did not know why. They would assume, for example, that business-people were simply too greedy or indifferent to care about real spiritual issues, and that the predominance of a market mentality in society was simply overwhelming their flock.

    Gone are the days of the medieval town or the Bible Commonwealth of early Massachusetts, when churches were intimately involved in regulating state and economy. Today's Americans are more independent of their churches, and churches are more independent of the mainstream economy. What remains is spiritual hunger and the search for rootedness, meaning, a sense of balance, and perspective. Whether this search takes the form of cashing out to lead a simpler life, or engaging in exciting new transformations of the business basics, the church has the opportunity to shape the quest.

    It is clear that we desperately need new strategies and paradigms for thinking about Christianity at work. Our goal in this book is to try to understand the fundamental areas in which the church is failing to engage. First, however, we need to look at the context for these problems: the social and economic factors that underlie the current obsession with workplace spirituality, the felt needs of Christians in business today, and how the new spirituality answers these needs in a way that mainstream Christianity currently does not.


The Social-Economic Foundations of the New Spirituality


American business has always tended to structure its religious views around its economic concerns. The business community has seized on the new spirituality out of an essentially pragmatic idealism in the face of new social and economic trends. We believe six major realities have particularly influenced the shape of new spirituality programs and the terms on which they have based their broad, popular appeal: (1) the baby boomers, (2) the global economy, (3) increasing work-related stress, (4) new scientific concepts, (5) postmodern paradigms, and (6) the rise of the business guru.


The Baby Boomers Have Come of Age


That enormously influential generation, the baby boomers—born between 1946 and 1964—are now occupying leadership roles in corporations and dominate the business population. They have reached a stage of life where the feeling that work should be about something more than a paycheck is becoming urgent. As they have done all their lives, they are having a major cultural impact.

    This generation highly values individualism, egalitarianism, self-expression, personal fulfillment, antiauthoritarianism, diversity, tolerance, and holistic thinking. The new programs frame spiritual concerns not only to emphasize all these values but also to suggest ways of using them to overthrow outdated techniques for business success and exclusionary, nonexperiential formats for religious interest. As best-selling futurist Kevin Kelly asserts, we must anticipate an economy where all the normal rules will be turned upside down.


The Rise of the Global Economy


The new global economic environment has created the perfect platform for affirming that boomer values are not just compatible with economic success; they are essential. Globalism demands tolerance, openness to novelty, and intuitive ability to adapt quickly to unforeseen administrative problems—a call for a whole new mind-set in the marketplace. Cookie-cutter solutions from an Anglo-Western tradition simply won't do. This attitude has extended to dismissing authoritarian forms of Christianity as delivered by traditional churches.

    From an economic and technological standpoint, increasing global connectivity is essential for business success, and globalism offers an exciting new scale of connection opportunities. Necessary cognitive connections between mind, spirit, and body—including psychological well-being—are enhanced by the ability to draw on multiple ways of knowing, multiple religious traditions, and multiple cultural connections. Globalism also plays into the need for stronger community and ethics in business, and it offers a new model for social connectedness that does not rely on the already mistrusted large institution.


Increasing Sense of Psychological Stress at Work


The pace of business grows ever faster, more capricious, and multidirectional. New technologies and new sources of production from overseas constantly threaten existing products and markets; unstable new financial markets, constant mergers, hubristically high benchmarks for compensation, two-career families, and changing social values add to the uncertainty about personal worth. Spirituality offers new hope of accessing alternative solutions to problems that have not proved tractable to a purely scientific Enlightenment approach. Meanwhile, the romanticism and psychologizing of the spirituality movement help ease stress at least temporarily, even if they don't solve the business problem.

    Although the new spirituality programs cannot always define spirituality, they know when it's "blocked": low morale, poor productivity and creativity, and lack of teamwork are sure signs of spiritual imbalance. Spirituality promises both exalting inner healing and a seamless connection to business effectiveness.


Science Offers New, Multiple Paradigms


People resonate to claims that they need "new tools" to help them master the many daunting technological and social innovations of the day. New science paradigms suggest that intuitive and systems approaches carry powerful capacity for problem solving (an approach Carl Sagan derisively called "the flight from reason"). These new mental paradigms—which start with such concepts as chaos theory, quantum physics, and genetics—are particularly appealing in their ability to model, if not predict, the uncontrollable. Fractals (those elemental patterns that create order when iterated millions of times) offer a population feeling overwhelmingly disjointed and chaotic a paradigm that is deeply reassuring. There is order in this chaos, an order that can be tapped. In this new paradigm, linear science is not abandoned but rather connected to nonrational, elemental associative powers of the brain.


Excerpted from Church on Sunday, Work on Monday by Laura Nash and Scotty McLennan. Copyright © 2001 by Laura Nash and Scotty McLennan. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


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Table of Contents

Foreword by Ken Blanchard.

Acknowledgments.

Preface.

Introduction.

Part One: In Separate Worlds: Exploring the Gap Between Church and Business.

1. Spirituality Goes to Work, the Church Stays Away: Religious Disconnects in American Business Lives.

2. Between Worlds: Attempts to Integrate Religion and Business.

3. Not Our Modus Operandi: The Church's Response to Business.

4. Testing the Relationship: Mapping a Framework for Integrating Church and Business.

Part Two: Get Off My Turf! Why Things Fall Apart.

5. You Just Don't Understand: Communication Gaps Between Church and Business.

6. Turf Wars: Overcoming Negative Stereotypes and Notions of "Proper" Roles.

7. Different Voices: The Problem of Language and Pluralism.

Part Three: Working Together: A New Integration Model.

8. The New Terms of Religious Engagement: How Church and Business Can Work Together.

9. The Road Ahead.

A Note on Methodology.

Notes.

Suggested Reading.

The Authors.

Index.

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