Church leaders across the country are recognizing the need to equip Christians to live out their faith in the workplace. LETU’s Center for Faith & Work consults with churches of all sizes, denominations and demographics to help pastors empower congregants to see their work as a holy calling and see themselves as Christ’s ambassadors in their workplace mission field.
One church we work with is Grace Bible Church near San Antonio, where I recently led a Workplace Grace Conference. Pastor Erin Weaver first learned about the importance of equipping men and women to integrate their faith with their work a few years ago from church elder Sargent Major Claude Hungerford, stationed nearby at Brooks Air Force Base.
A gifted strategic planner, Hungerford was the go-to consultant for base commanders, serving as commandant of the U.S. Air Force Business Management School. He was earning his doctorate in leadership and saw a Pentagon position on his horizon when I met him in 2013.
With his exuberant passion for taking his faith to work, he told of how God had blessed his work and used him to bring the gospel to many in the military. His contagious faith and genuine concern for his co-workers earned him the unofficial title of Chaplain/Pastor of the school.
In 2016 Hungerford shocked me when he said he turned down the Pentagon position, retired from the military, and pursued an associate pastor position at Grace Bible Church. I asked why he would want to give up his influence in the military. His answer was simple: He was following his calling.
As a young adult, he felt called to vocational ministry. After working at a struggling church that couldn’t afford to pay him, he enlisted in 1983 in the United States Air Force—thinking it would be a four-year detour from pastoral ministry. God had other plans.
Four years led to more years. Promotions and opportunities honed his God-given gifts in ways he never imagined. He learned first-hand the importance of training Christians to extend God’s kingdom into the workplace. He realized most pastors have no idea what the men and women to whom they preach on Sunday, face when they go to work on Monday.
Hungerford’s postponement from the pastorate turned into a 35-year training, engineered by God, that showed him the difficulties and darkness Christians face in the secular work world. He also saw how the power of Christ can transform any workplace.
Today, Weaver and Hungerford at Grace Bible Church are living out Billy Graham’s words — “I believe one of the next great moves of God is going to be through believers in the workplace.”