Steve shares his journey in relation to being a Christian in the workplace
Steve Matthews is an employee of Sefton Council in Bootle as Planning Manager in the Department of Planning Services. He has been member of a Christian group held in the offices of the Health and Safety Executive, also based in Bootle and which served both organisations. In 2014 they decided there were enough people to start their own group in Sefton's offices.
Steve is a member of St Luke's church, Crosby. He shares his journey in relation to being a Christian in the workplace ahead of the Liverpool Networking Event for Workplace Christians on Tuesday 3rd July.
“The opportunity to be a Christian at work – for the past 20+ years at Sefton Council in Bootle - has long been a passion of mine, going back to reading Mark Greene's book Thank God it's Monday in the late 90s. Christians from Sefton Council and the Health & Safety Executive had met together at HSE’s offices for many years.
A number of us from the group attended a conference hosted by Transform Work UK (TWUK) (https://www.transformworkuk.org/) in Birmingham in 2009. I was challenged to think about setting up our own workplace group in Sefton. (TWUK offer case studies illustrating how to prepare a ‘business case’ for setting up a Christian workplace group). This seed lay dormant for a number of years.
The plan to run an Alpha in Sefton Council’s offices in autumn 2015 was the stimulus to seek formal recognition. We prayed hard, put together a business case, and were amazed when our HR manager was totally supportive. We subsequently ran Alpha (jointly with HSE) and in 2016 started up a carol service. This was well received by the Council’s Chief Executive.
My thinking on being a Christian in the workplace has also been inspired by the terrific resources of the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity (LICC). Over the last 2-3 years we have studied the LICC’s Life and Fruitfulness on the Frontline video series, and a more recent one called 'Transforming Work'.
I have had the privilege of attending LICC’s stimulating Executive Toolbox programme for middle/ senior managers in 2016. This initiative is designed to equip Christians to think seriously about the range of ways in which they can live out their faith on the ‘frontline’ of every day life and work.
I have received regular support and encouragement from Ros Turner, Director of Operations at TWUK. Ros has huge experience of encouraging Christians to set up groups within their workplace, including major City banks, Government Departments, Rolls Royce, Ford, the Post Office and the Open University.
For many years we have set out Easter eggs in our offices. This was always accompanied with a sense of relief that this ‘outreach’ was over for another year! However we have become bolder and this year we placed eggs in 5 different offices/ town halls, accompanied by a card explaining the Easter message, and a message on the Council’s intranet.
We have about a dozen on the mailing list of our Christian group with a regular weekly attendance of 5-6. The group is encouraged by being able to discuss and pray about how our Christian faith is relevant to everyday work. This has been a revelation for many of the group who previously saw their faith as almost irrelevant to their working life. In the words of the report, God’s people have been set free!