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Kizombo Kalumbula and Artie M. Lindsay Sr. on Work and Worship 

Valuing diversity in worship includes but goes beyond multiethnic considerations. It also means helping people of different ages, abilities, and vocations see themselves as living out their part to usher in God’s shalom. Two pastors offer practical insights for congregations interested in work and worship.

Kizombo Kalumbula is pastor of community formation at Tabernacle Community Church (TCC) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He also teaches psychology at Grace Christian University and works as a licensed professional counselor. Artie M. Lindsay Sr. is TCC pastor of spiritual formation. Lindsay also serves as Flourishing Faith Communities director with the Urban Church Leadership Center. In this edited conversation, Kalumbula and Lindsay talk about how to help worshipers connect their worship with their work. 

Have TCC demographics changed since the church was founded? 

KK: From the start, we were diverse racially, ethnically, and in age, work, and educational levels. Gradually we came to see our diversity as more than just a God-given gift but also a responsibility to be stewarded for the kingdom. We now have songs and prayers in different languages and from many cultures. 

AL: Before COVID we were about 50 percent Black, 45 percent white, and 5 percent Hispanic. We now have growing numbers of people from more than a dozen countries in Africa and the Americas.  

Can you say more about actively stewarding diversity? 

KK: To focus on our part in God’s multiethnic kingdom, we redid our vision and mission statements. We see ourselves as becoming the tsaddaqim—a Hebrew word that can be summarized as “those who disadvantage themselves for the advantage of others.” TCC exists “to make new and better Christ followers who influence the culture and impact the city for the glory of God.” 

AL: As we try to bring an outward mission focus into worship, sermons put more emphasis on what God is calling us to in such a time as this in American culture now. As I prayerfully develop the preaching schedule for the church, members of our teaching team, which includes worship director Satrina Reid, all contribute to helping shape our liturgy in ways that challenge and encourage God’s people to live into what it means to be culture makers and influencers. Two focus areas in our annual preaching diet are justice and the integration of faith, work, and economic (FWE) wisdom. Diversity includes racial and ethnic identities but goes beyond that to socioeconomic and age diversity, which affects how we live out our faith in daily life and work. 

How else do your worship services help worshipers focus on outward mission?  

KK: We don’t divorce what people do in their everyday lives from our Sunday worship services. We include those issues in prayers, teaching, and songs. Every month or so, worship includes an interview with an individual from a different space of engagement—moms at home or at work, teachers, police officers, people who work in factories and offices. 

What questions do you ask so that worshipers make the connections between Sunday worship and their work and outward mission? 

KK: The work interviews are based on TCC’s distinct mission to be tsaddaqim, the righteous ones who look first at the needs of others. We ask people to reflect on questions like: What does a day in your life look like? How do you see God in your work? How do you see God at work in your colleagues and the people you serve? As an image bearer of God, how does the work you do reflect God’s character in the world? How does your work give you a vantage point into the brokenness of the world? What spiritual practices sustain you in your work? 

AL: We started this tradition pre-COVID and recently brought it back. We call it the “All of Life” interview. The interview is with just one person, but after the interview, we ask all in that work category to stand up. A prayer of blessing is given over them that they will find ways to use their work to usher in God’s shalom.  

Can you give examples of workers you have interviewed? 

KK: I’ve been influenced by John Calvin’s conviction that all work can be done to the glory of God. So far we have covered the following vocation areas: primary caregiver (stay-at-home parent), education (school principal), medical (nurse), entrepreneur, missionary, (and) college student on a short-term mission. We have not yet interviewed all vocations.  

AL: This past Christmas season we prayed for retail and delivery workers and how to think about and consider them with kindness and respect. When you deliver a package, you are doing a valuable service. You have followed Christ’s command to love your neighborhood.  

Are these live interviews? How do you introduce them in worship? 

AL: Yes. Some churches are shocked that we do it live instead of prerecorded and edited. But we do prepare ahead of time. After the featured people receive questions, we review their responses. Our administrator of operations, Jake Lang, meets with each person to prepare them for the live interview. Jake also conducts the interview during worship. Each interview lasts about seven to ten minutes. 

Jake usually reminds people of All of Life’s biblical basis. He has explained that if you are a believer, then you are in full-time ministry, whether through a full- or part-time paid job, as a volunteer, or in a calling that may be overlooked. He’s said that our joy in the house of the Lord should flow into all of life, including work. We see the brokenness in the world, and God calls us to participate in God’s restoration in the world.  

Before one interview, Jake reminded us of Luke 3, where John the Baptist calls everyone to repentance. People ask him what they should do next, and John the Baptist gives examples. If you are a tax collector, then don’t collect any more than you are required to. If you are a soldier, then be content with your pay rather than falsely accusing and extorting money from others. 

How do you find people for these interviews?  

KK: From time to time we offer a short online vocational calling assessment. People can complete it in three to five minutes, and it helps us learn about worshipers’ skills, experiences, and passions. Gathering this knowledge and sharing it through All of Life interviews help our congregation improve its service to the community around us.  

Do you shorten other worship elements to make room for the All of Life interview? 

AL: The sermon is usually the same length, but maybe we’ll sing fewer songs or slightly shorten the normal greeting time. Greeting each other is a big deal at TCC and often lasts for ten minutes.