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one participant observed, “We can reach people whom the clergy cannot.” One thing became clear over time—we know

we’re called to ministry in daily life because we hear it all the time in worship. • Listen to this post-communion prayer: “Renew our faith, increase our hope, and deepen our love, for the sake of a world in need.”

• Hear the Affirmation of Baptism: “Serve all people, following the example of Jesus.”

• Sing this hymn: “Will you use the faith you’ve found to reshape the world around, through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, 798).

• Ponder this gospel reading: “Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” (Luke 10:36).

• Be sent with some version of “Go in peace. Serve the Lord.” Next time you worship, pay attention to the

words you hear, speak, sing and pray. You will likely find references like the ones above that call us to connect our faith with all that we say and do, not just in the church but in the world.

Moving forward Good news: we know we’re called to various vocations in the world, and we’re already engaged in ministry in countless places, relationships and responsibilities. Even better news: people are increasingly hungry

to make connections between faith and daily life. Just look at the number of books and blogs devoted to finding meaning and purpose. We want to live up to the baptismal promise of vocation. Tom Nelson, author of Work Matters: Connecting

Sunday Worship to Monday Work (Crossway, 2011) is successfully addressing vocation in his congregation. Members respond with profound gratitude when the connection between faith and daily life is made: “Pastor, I have always felt like a second-class citizen before” or “Pastor, thanks for telling me my work matters.” Making the connection between faith and life

brings us new meaning and joy. What would it mean to shape our congregations

around vocation? Making this shift is easier than one might think. It begins with acknowledging, affirming and supporting what we’re already doing in the roles and responsibilities of our everyday lives. This work deepens when we change our way of thinking: instead of seeing ministry as something

16 MAY 2016

that only happens in and through the church, we start talking about and supporting ministry taking place in our everyday lives. It may be as simple as responding differently to someone who can’t participate in a congregational activity because of responsibilities with work or family by saying, “That’s your ministry right now. How can we help you do it better?” We can become bolder in this work of reimagining

our congregations by revisiting the language we use in worship and translating our generic and lofty words and phrases into concrete realities. A recent prayer petition was: “Make your church a prophetic voice for the voiceless, a bold witness of love to the neighbor and a force for hope in all the world.” But the church isn’t just an institution, it is

the people. If people can’t see themselves in that petition (leaving that “voice” to someone else) perhaps they would see themselves in this one: “Make us all prophetic voices, bold witnesses and a force for hope in our homes and neighborhoods, in our work and our community involvement.” Preaching and teaching plays a vital role in

making the connection even more specific, so we see our lives, relationships, work and passions all as part of God’s desire to bring about a new heaven and a new earth. We get a good start when we pray for people in

our congregations (and beyond) who are involved in agriculture, naming that they’re fulfilling Scripture’s call to “feed the hungry.” We do this when we train people in legal and judicial roles so they can speak (yes, testify!) in our congregations about their efforts to “strive for justice and peace in all the earth.” We can create a means to check in on Sundays to see how our various ministries went during the week. Doing so puts delicious meat on the bones of the prior week’s “Go in peace. Serve the Lord.” As we approach the 500th anniversary of the

Reformation, we would do well to lift up and celebrate the vocation of the baptized in all our congregations. Making vocation—that connection between faith and life—the core of our life together renews the faith and hope of all members, revitalizes congregations and shines the light of God’s love on a hurting world.

DuBois, an ELCA pastor and instructor at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, is author of The Scattering: Imagining a Church that Connects Faith and Life (Wipf & Stock, 2015).

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