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Why Employment?


Why Employment?

Why Employment?
Jobs for Life: A Ministry of Reconciliation

Christians can quickly point to biblical commands to preach the gospel, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and shelter the homeless. These ministries are a beautiful, important reflection of the caring love God has shown us in Christ. It is no surprise then that over 60% of churches have some kind of food ministry, just a few less have a clothing ministry, and just a few less participate in the ministry of shelter.

If these commands are so biblically clear, then why is Southwood concerned with a ministry of employment and job preparedness? Where is our commanding verse?

Well, I do not have one. That’s right; I can point to no verse that clearly commands the people of God to prepare and equip others for meaningful employment. However, what I can point to is God’s pattern of reconciliation throughout all of Scripture and Paul’s clear instruction in 2 Cor. 5:18 that we, the people of God, have been given this same ministry of reconciliation. Colossians 1:20 declares that in Christ God has chosen to “reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

What is God reconciling? ALL things. Remember in the garden Adam and Eve’s relationship with God was severed, their relationship with each other was broken, their ability to multiply and fill the earth became painful, and their ability to work the ground as God commanded became toilsome. Every aspect of their lives cracked, and suddenly the ground grew weeds, disease took over bodies, and love turned to fear and manipulation. But God says that through Christ He is not only reconciling men and women to God, but He is reconciling ALL THINGS to Himself.

All things includes work. Remember, God gave Adam and Eve work before the fall, as an opportunity for them to reflect His authority and creativity in creation. Work was to be a beautiful act of worship, and in God’s design even his perfect creation needed Adam and Eve’s care and attention. Through tending the garden or naming the animals, Adam and Eve were going to learn more about the God who made them and more about His purpose for their lives.

If this is true, then as the Church pursues our God-given ministry of reconciliation, offering people the opportunity to learn more about their Creator and His purpose in their lives would be an important ministry! When we pursue ministry that helps others find and keep meaningful employment, we offer them opportunities for reconciliation in three ways.

1.)  An opportunity to be reconciled to their Heavenly Father and to learn more about His purpose for their lives. Believers and non-believers share the same identity as image bearers of God with innate gifts for meaningful use. The church has the chance to share God’s intention for work, as well as His promise of reconciling all things to himself in Christ, in an accessible context.

2.)  An opportunity to be reconciled to themselves and to those around them. Work provides dignity, and statistics show that when individuals and communities lack work, violence and abuse increase dramatically. “Hurt people hurt people” is a common counseling phrase, and it bears out in the world of unemployment. When we offer people a real path back to employment we offer them dignity, which not only benefits them but their spouses, children, and communities. 

3.)  An opportunity to be reconciled to their communities and the world around them, becoming contributors instead of consumers of benevolence. No one thinks that feeding, clothing, and sheltering the same people indefinitely is sustainable or empowering, and most individuals involved in these ministries would say a stable job is the only path to self-sufficiency for their clients. But currently only 2% of churches are dedicated to helping people find those jobs! What if we spent the same resources on employment ministry that we spend to feed people—doesn’t it seem possible that we could begin spending less on food as people are empowered to provide for themselves? 

This is why Jobs For Life challenges churches to “flip the list” and work to provide individuals real paths toward life-giving employment. Flipping the list does not mean ignoring hunger; it means dedicating more resources to helping people find jobs so that they no longer face chronic hunger. If we truly believe jobs are the most sustainable and empowering way out of poverty for our neighbors, then our ministries, our budgets, and our time ought to reflect that belief.  Imagine if churches worked with non-profits, the local business community, and even the city to help individuals find and keep meaningful jobs. It is happening, right here in Huntsville!! Southwood is partnering with The CornerStone Initiative, Huntsville Housing Authority, and Westside Community Church to hold our second Jobs For Life class this fall, and we need you! Consider joining our Jobs For Life family this fall and participating with us in this powerful ministry of reconciliation.

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Details:

Classes run Monday & Thursday evenings,
September 12 through November 10th
5:30-8pm (dinner from 5:30-6pm)

Classes held at The Oscar Mason Center, located at:
149 Mason Court
Huntsville, AL 35805

Ways you can serve:
•  Provide a meal
•  Join our prayer team
•  Join our business network
•  Volunteer with childcare
•  Help with resume writing & interview skills