It isn’t necessarily a judgment on clergy to say this because the passage of time affects human memory, though there is no excuse for a failure to think about the needs of Christians in their paid jobs.
Like all institutions, churches develop their own agendas where volunteers can end up being valued as people primarily for what they do in church on Sunday and the church becomes disinterested in the work that members do in the week. A subtle marginalisation of God’s work in the world can undermine Christians in their calling to live as salt and light. When Anglicans end the service in church on Sunday with the words: ‘go in peace to love and serve the Lord’, people fan out to all parts of their towns and cities - and beyond - to do their jobs. The Holy Spirit moves among people with the invisible speed and scope of a virus. The impact people make on others when they seek to live as Christians can be felt in faraway places.
The Bible is replete with examples of work, drawing on the inspiration of a working creator God in the first verses of Genesis. There are profound lessons to be drawn from scripture on the nature of work, its role in our lives and purpose in our world. The ethical challenges of the workplace are also illuminated (think of Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon). The example of Jesus calling disciples to lay down their nets and follow him has often been misunderstood as implying that only the relinquishing of a job to follow him comprises proper Christian ministry. In the vast majority of cases today Jesus is calling people to take up their nets and follow him – to continue with the jobs they are good at, where their reputation is made and where their relationships are formed – as a way of reaching out as far as possible in blessing to a fractured world.
We need to find ways of bringing not just the church into the workplace, but the workplace into the church, in an effort to help heal an historic rift between the two which has needlessly occurred.