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Which Church You Attend Can Affect Your Success on the Job

  • Rob Kerby Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
  • 2014 Jul 18

If you really hate your job, you should get serious about a church that teaches you can change the world, advises a Baylor University study.  

Researchers asked a random sample of full-time employees if they attended a place of worship and whether their congregation emphasized integrating their faith into the workplace through “sacrificial love” to their co-workers and sensing God’s presence at work. 

What seemed to make the difference, researchers found, was frequent attendance at a church that stressed a merge of faith and work. Simply attending any church did not result in greater work satisfaction or dedication.

“We already knew that about 60 percent of American adults are affiliated with congregations, but we wanted to delve into whether that carries over from weekend worship services to the work day,” said Jerry Z. Park, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences who led the project. “It turns out it does make some difference in their attitudes at work. That means it has a potential ‘payoff’ not only for employers, but for employees themselves.”

The study, “Workplace-Bridging Religious Capital: Connecting Congregations to Work Outcomes” — is published in the journal Sociology of Religion.

“Researchers’ analysis was based on the National Survey of Work, Entrepreneurship and Religion, a 2010 Web-based survey of 1,022 fulltime workers,” reported Baylor. “Their findings concentrated on three areas:

“Job satisfaction: Full-time workers who regularly attend a congregation that emphasizes integrating their faith at work report higher job satisfaction.

“Job commitment: Full-time workers who regularly attend a congregation that emphasizes integrating their faith at work report higher commitment to their place of employment.

“Entrepreneurship: People who are actively involved in in congregations that promote integration of faith with work are more likely to describe themselves as entrepreneurial, Park said. However, attendance seems to impede entrepreneurship — perhaps because time and energy spent in entrepreneurial endeavors leaves less time for church attendance.

How each person’s faith affected their job satisfaction, their commitment to the job and their personal entrepreneurship was measured using a 15-item Congregational Faith at Work Scale, Park said. 

That scale included such items as whether respondents sense God’s presence while they work, whether they view their work as having eternal significance, whether they view co-workers as being made in the image of God, whether they believe they should demonstrate “sacrificial love” toward co-workers and whether they believe God wants them to develop their abilities and talents at work.

Workplace attitudes such as job commitment also were evaluated by a variety of items that asked how much participants felt like “part of the family” at their organization, how efficiently they get proposed actions through “bureaucratic red tape” and whether they “went to bat” for good ideas of co-workers.

“Max Weber, an early social theorist,” noted the university, “argued that Protestants who lived strict, simple lives — such as the Calvinists of the 16th and 17th centuries — viewed their worldly employment as service to God, so religion added significance to labor. Success in business was viewed as confirmation of salvation.”

 “Religious participation is an active part of life for millions of Americans, and it is relevant in other domains,” the study concluded.

Co-authors of the study were researchers Jenna Griebel Rogers, a doctoral candidate in sociology at Baylor; Mitchell J. Neubert, Ph.D., associate professor and holder of The Hazel and Harry Chavanne Chair of Christian Ethics in Business in Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business; and Kevin D. Dougherty, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences.

Publication date: July 18, 2014