A Spiritual Growth Industry

Small groups are helping Christians bring faith to bear in the for-profit world.

Mike Valleskey was struggling to understand how his job at Sears fit into his new life of faith. Valleskey hadn't been asked to perform unethically or kept at work so late he lost touch with his family. But he couldn't see how a disciple of Jesus Christ could work 9 to 5 inside an office with such a large mission field outside.

"I contemplated going back to Bible school," Valleskey tells Christianity Today. But before making the jump, he looked at his sphere of influence—his wife and four children, no surprise there, but the next one blew him away. "The workplace," says Valleskey, who now leads a Christian fellowship at Sears with 150 members. "I was around 5,000 people, every day, 40-plus hours [a week]."

Welcome to Faith in the Workplace 101, one of the fastest growing arenas of Christian ministry. If nonprofits are learning lessons from former for-profit execs, it's also true that Christian workers are learning how better to bring their faith into the for-profit world. Like many before, and even more since, Valleskey discovered in 1994 that the largest mission field in his life was inside his Chicago office building. He didn't need a Master of Divinity degree. He just needed to work with a higher mission than receiving that Friday paycheck.

"People don't just want to park their car [and] their soul in the lot outside. They want their personal values, their faith values, to be aligned with the values of the office," says David W. Miller, executive director of Yale University's Center for Faith and Culture and author of the book God at Work (Oxford, 2006). "They don't want to live a compartmentalized life."

That much has become ...

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