Q:  I’ve had it in my heart to meet with other Christians in my workplace and pray, read scripture and encourage each other. So a couple weeks ago I had lunch, read scripture and prayed with a coworker. Last week we had another person join us and did the same. 1 of them reports to the same manager as me. What are your thoughts about me leading a Bible study that includes a coworker with the same boss? Also what are your thoughts about conducting marketplace ministry in general?

This is fantastic! I’m so excited for you and for what Jesus is doing through you!
First, make sure your workplace doesn’t have any guidance or policy on religious expression in the workplace that your actions would violate. If not, then the White House Memorandum on Religious Expression in the Federal Workplace is a safe framework to follow. In short,
  • Have Bible studies and prayer time only on your personal time (e.g., before or after work, during lunch break);
  • Refrain from behaviors that interfere with your organization’s ability to perform its mission;
  • Avoid being perceived by a reasonable person as endorsing Christianity as an agent or representative of your employer;
  • Never base hiring, promotion, or workplace favor on someone’s religion (e.g., don’t give someone the available office because they go to your Bible study)
  • Don’t coerce participation in the Bible study, shame those who don’t come, or otherwise create a religiously hostile environment

The other critical aspect of this memo is that it explicitly states “agencies shall permit employees to engage in personal religious expression to the greatest extent possible.” In my experience, believers in the workplace often curtail their religious freedoms far more than rules or law require (and usually even more than culture requires!). In fact, I’ve found that when I am open in my expression of faith (like leading or going to Bible studies, talking to people about God, or praying with people), many others begin to feel free to be open with their faith, too. There’s a lot more believers out there looking for community than I could ever imagine.

That said, the greatest risk you face is someone in your workplace being offended by what you’re doing, creating a religiously hostile environment for you, and complaining about what you’re doing. I’ve found that this risk causes many believers to hide in fear and rarely, if ever, engage in the kind of faith-based activities you are. To me, though, accepting that risk is akin to what Peter said in Acts 5:29–“We must obey God rather than men.” Later that same chapter, it says the Jewish leaders “flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.” Inspired by this passage, I’ve chosen to “speak in the name of Jesus.” And if they flog me or I suffer shame for it, then it’s an opportunity to rejoice (a lot easier said than done, but still).