What Does Church for Monday Mean?

Dr. Craig von BuseckBy Dr. Craig von BuseckDecember 12, 202211 Minutes

Craig von Buseck: Church for Monday. What does that mean? I thought church was on Sunday, or maybe Saturday.

Svetlana Papazov: Maybe just one day a week, right?

CVB: Yeah.

Svetlana: No, church really is about all seven days of the week. But we have somehow co-opted this idea of church to reside only within the church walls on the one day of the week, primarily Sunday. And so the challenge is how do we bridge the Sunday worship experience to Monday work experience? How do we really get our core values to bear in the marketplace so we truly are the witness of Christ out there.

CVB: Which is where Jesus spent most of his time.

Svetlana: Absolutely. We find Jesus, as was the custom of that day, to do some teachings in the synagogue. But truly Jesus walked the streets of first century historical places. And where we find him connecting with culture is in the marketplace. And especially in some of the dark places where he engaged with people like Levi and other sinful people. Those things don’t usually happen in a synagogue. They don’t happen in a church place. Most of that holiness and sinner interaction happens if we get ourselves in the marketplace.

CVB: So what brought you to this idea?

Svetlana: I was an entrepreneur and landscape architect, minding my own business in the marketplace, building beautiful designs and interacting with my clients who wanted to beautify their homes. I served about 200 clients a year. So I would talk with them and my passion for Christ would always come to the surface. As we engaged in conversation, I found out my clients didn’t think about which church they were going to visit on Sunday morning. They actually avoided conversations about God and church and faith. I progressively began to see this disconnect between sacred and secular.

The question arose on how we bridge the sacred/secular divide. This is what propelled me to re-enter a full time vocational ministry to prepare those that are in the pews to go outside of the church to engage the marketplace. So I kind of had a reverse journey, coming from the marketplace and entrepreneurial endeavors and then going behind the pulpit.

My goal is to prepare those that are in our congregations to go back outside of the church walls to engage the marketplace in a very real way by engaging culture. Because if we’re not amidst culture, we cannot change culture. We can be upset at the culture, but we cannot change it.

CVB: Tell me some of the things that you’re telling people in the book. Somebody might say, “I thought it was just for the professional ministers to do ministry. You mean I’m supposed to do something too?”

Svetlana: I believe we are all called to missions. We follow a missionary God. Jesus came on God’s mission from heaven to earth to model for us how to serve God and how to worship him. The best way is not to hide and huddle. The best way to follow Jesus’s missionary example is if we go back to mission in the marketplace.

When people were trying to tell him how much they love God, he said, you cannot convince me in loving God if you do not love your neighbor. So one of the very practical ways that we can be missional in our own endeavors in everyday life is if we engage our neighbor that works right beside us. They go to the same games with their kids or watch the same college football game with us. We can begin by engaging them in conversations. Jesus’s example was always relational, but it doesn’t end there. We are somewhat okay at starting a conversation or wanting to do a good deed, but it is often event-oriented – instead of going into the community and saying, “Here we are. We are here to embed ourselves in the marketplace, to do life with you, not beside you, not outside of you, but just really among you.”

As we are doing life among the people, then we understand the needs of our communities. If we do that, then we can go do asset-based mapping and ask, “How can we really get our resources together with the community’s resources, find the strengths, not just the weaknesses, and chart a common path forward to lift these communities, both socially and economically.”

We were kind of okay at understanding how to lift the community spiritually, but the thing is we go with the spiritual aspect immediately, while the community doesn’t really pay attention to us unless we begin to reach and lift it up economically and then socially. At that time they will have an open ear to hear us about a spiritual lift.

CVB: Very interesting. I love the three-pronged attack. I love that because you have some churches that focus on just one of those three. Most of them, I would say, focus on the spiritual. A lot of them focus on the social justice and they leave off the spiritual or the economic. I don’t hear a lot of churches that focus on the economic and I find that interesting. Can you tell me a little bit of your experience in that third path?

Svetlana: I come from communist Bulgaria and I have observed poverty settings. I understand the desire we all have for poverty alleviation. But we think that poverty is only material, and it is not. There’s spiritual, social, and then material poverty. I think the church had zeroed in on understanding what spiritual poverty is and maybe social poverty. But we’re not well equipped to tackle the material poverty when it doesn’t come in a neighborhood that is really struggling.

Coming from an Eastern Block country, which is a completely different cultural experience when it comes to material needs, I see we do have material poverty in North America, but it is not screaming at us in all of our neighborhoods. We know we have in every city maybe a segment that suffers a particular scarcity in the market. But the majority of our American experience is somewhat middle class and sometimes even upper middle class. So the question is, how do we get the ear of the middle class or the upper middle class to even pay attention to the gospel? I have come to the conclusion that neighborly love has an economic aspect and I am convinced that when we work to develop countries, we actually minister through the economic development of that country.

It may sound like an oxymoron at the beginning, like why on earth are you going to develop an economy that’s already developed? Because most people in a developed economy are strictly focused on their pocket book. They’re looking at their finances, they’re looking at their material wealth. If we can come alongside them to say that we are not ostracizing them for caring to steward material wealth, but we actually can show them a better way to do it, then we really touch them where it really matters to them.

Jesus always had a way of connecting with culture where it mattered to culture instead of going with what first mattered to him. So I think if we go from the economical perspective and embed churches that make a lasting difference in the economy of a particular community, city, or state, and we begin to dream with that community and are real contributors to the GDP of that setting and of a country, we now are gaining the ear of those that have not paid attention to the church and its message.

CVB: And those are quite often influential people who can make real changes in the lives of those who don’t have the power.

Svetlana: People who can make structural and systemic changes. But they need to trust us that we have the wellbeing of their community in our hearts.

CVB: Right.

Svetlana: So the wellbeing is holistic. It is not one-sided. The wellbeing of a person is spiritual, social, and physical. The wellbeing of a community is spiritual, social, and economic.

Order your copy of Church for Monday by Dr. Svetlana Papazov

Learn How to Have a Relationship with God