Our society is notably multi-ethnic, and along with that characteristic is the corollary of being very diverse in religion. Any sizeable workplace can have employees practicing a dozen different religions. This leads many Christians to downplay their own faith in an effort to avoid offending coworkers.
But there is a group of men and women who overcome such reticence. They belong to Christians in Commerce, an ecumenical, nonprofit organization founded in 1983. Its foundation scripture comes from the words of St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”
Members strive to “bring Christ to the workplace” by building strong, supportive relationships based on Christian values and sharing their “time, talents and resources” with those around them. At the same time, they attempt to increase their own participation in prayer, scripture, family and church life.
Christians in Commerce chapters hold weekly meetings across the country, including in San Jose, Gilroy, Hollister, Monterey, Morgan Hill and Santa Cruz. These meetings follow a simple format: prayer, brief worship and a 10-minute talk based on a weekly reflection found in the group’s “Challenge Newsletter.”
The majority of the meeting is devoted to discussion of the talk/reflection followed by prayer requests. It has been found that sharing is more comfortable and effective when men and women meet separately, hence the use of gender-specific chapters. However, many other CIC activities combine men and women together.
Chapter members represent a wide diversity of occupations: small business owners, clerks, salesmen, professionals, even homemakers and retirees. Anyone is welcome who wants an opportunity to improve his or her own spiritual life while “sharing the light, hope and presence of Christ with others”; there is no charge for membership.
Members of Christians in Commerce can have vast influence in the places where they work by encouraging the practice of morality and ethics. There are numerous instances of providing emotional and spiritual support to those around them during situations when the pressure is for expedience rather than integrity.
– One man quit his job rather than be an accomplice in accounting irregularities.
– A woman made her office a place of refuge for other employees during stressful downsizing efforts at her company.
In addition to weekly chapter meetings, CIC provides members many other resources.
– Workday Christian Reflections is a free email message issued Monday through Friday. Each includes a scripture applied to a workplace issue or a firsthand account of how another Christian deals with a particular challenge at work.
– Challenge Newsletter is a monthly publication that provides insight and reflections on living a life of faith in the workplace. It includes personal stories about CIC members in action, reflections on scriptures and other news articles about the organization, chapter activities and members.
– Challenge Weekends are retreats composed of talks, reflection and small group discussions focused on practical aspects of the workplace.
– An annual conference combines praise, worship, talks, testimonies, workshops and fellowship.
– The website (www.christiansincommerce.org) provides free resources, photos and information on upcoming activities.
South Valley residents Kevin and Diane McGinty are longtime leaders of Christians in Commerce at both the local and national levels who would be glad to answer any questions. Contact them at [email protected] or (408) 779-1676.