The Faith, Work & Economics (FWE) movement has gained much attention in Western Christian evangelical circles in the past few years, and a wealth of materials is available from both the USA and Europe (specifically the UK) relating to how Christians can integrate their faith with their everyday work and public lives.

This report is an attempt to consolidate some statistics relating specifically to the South African FWE context that the FWA has been able to gather during its 2-year existence to date. This was undertaken to initiate engagement in the FWE sphere, with the belief that there must be more people out there who further want to continue the conversation and assist with research to further build the FWE application of the church as the body of Christ, but has not yet found a collaborative forum for this.

As with any report that purports to contain facts, this comes with the usual indemnities. The findings in this report come from very small sample groups and should therefore not be generalized before more research or validation of findings have been undertaken. This being said, we still believe that these insights can assist churches and marketplace ministries alike to understand more of what the body of Christ needs to be able to make disciples in the South African context specifically, and the African continent more broadly.


The reference to the term “church” can be interpreted in many different ways – ranging from traditional Sunday gatherings (and buildings) to small house gatherings and pockets of disciples that gather in work or other environments. In the broader sense, the FWA views the church as the greater body of members in Christ – going across denominations, traditions and contexts – including everyone who gathers in the name of Jesus Christ and views Him as central; the Messiah and Redeemer of all things. We do, however, believe that there are members of this body that have the specific gifting to lead and guide these members in understanding Biblical truth and that these members (which we refer to as church leaders) have specific Biblical accountabilities (1 Tim 3:1-13; 2 Tim 4:1-5; Tit 1:5-9; Tit 2:1-10). These leaders include people who may not be in traditional fulltime local church roles (such as ministers and pastors), but who may be working in other occupations, living out the image of God in this context. These people are typically referred to as “lay” church leaders; however the recommendation is to move away from this term due to the dualism that it may establish in the minds of those who still view the local church as the main avenue of ministry and evangelism. Instead, the distinction is made between those who that disciple primarily in the scattered church context (such as the marketplace) and those who disciple primarily in the more traditional gathered church context (local church congregations). The primary difference between these two settings is that in the gathered church context Christian Biblical values and principles are celebrated as primary and therefore should produce relatively more homogeneity in their overall worldview (even though this may not be obvious in some ways), where people in the scattered context more often have to operate in environments where Christian values and Biblical principles are secondary. It necessitates very different approaches in ministry and discipleship for each context. Another difference is the role that each different vocation and/or industry has in terms of the cultural mandate (Gen 1:28) and the Great Commission (Mat 28:19-20). In this frame of thinking, each gathered church setting – whatever form it takes – becomes one setting in many, all of them needing to work out and understand their role in making disciples (Phil 2:12-16); and together the different members as the “church” can function as the greater body of Christ.


In the following sections we will be looking at some findings from our journey in understanding the functionalities and being of the body of Christ in its different manifestations.

Below are the different faith and work (FW) aspects that will be reported on in this document:

  1. Results from six of the marketplace event surveys undertaken at different times and different provinces;
  2. Results from two congregational surveys undertaken in two different regions in South Africa.

For those that are interested, the more detailed information can be found in the various Appendices.


The FWA was introduced to some of New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church’s South African partners and beneficiaries by undertaking some introductory FW events with them during 2018 and 2019. We took the opportunity to survey some of the audiences in Durban North, Cape Town City Bowl, Cape Town suburbs and Pretoria. The surveys related to basic statements about people’s perceptions around specific aspects relating to their work, and their faith and the integration of these two aspects. We also surveyed how they perceived church support relating to faith and work integration in general. The graphed results for these surveys can be found in Appendix 1. The six events surveyed include the following:

  • Figure 1: Business Breakfast FW event (Durban suburb, July 2018);
  • Figure 2: Marketplace FW plenary event (Durban suburb, July 2018);
  • Figure 3: Marketplace FW plenary event (Cape Town City Bowl, July 2018);
  • Figure 4: Marketplace FW plenary event (Cape Town suburb, July 2019);
  • Figure 5: Marketplace FW Township event (Cape Town, July 2019);
  • Figure 6: Marketplace FW plenary event (Pretoria suburb, July 2019).

Some preliminary summary findings and comments from these interventions are given below.

Generally the findings were positive. Across all the surveys most respondents answered in aggregate agreement with statements relating to the meaning and experience of their work, the relationships they have at work and their identification as a Christian with their work. This is what one would expect from a respondent pool where the majority of respondents indicated that they were maturing Christians or had been Christians for quite some time (as opposed to being new to the Christian faith or not of faith).

There was more ambiguity around needed mechanisms. In all six event surveys, more respondents perceived the mechanisms that should provide them with the theology of work with more ambiguity than other aspects relating to their work. These mechanisms would include their awareness of materials (i.e. books, audio-visual materials, podcasts), church practices (i.e. sermons that include biblical applications for work, vocation-based discussion, support in the workplace) and understanding how what they do in the workplace fits into the big picture of the Bible as God’s story (theology of work). These surveys were undertaken at events where there was a mixture of church members represented, so the results are not only applicable to one specific church context. Even so, it could also be that these small groups of people specifically attended these marketplace events due to their need to know more about faith and work integration as a specific need of themselves and not necessarily a function of lack of input in their congregations, so these results cannot be extrapolated to the church contexts unless further evaluation is done of each congregation as a whole (see examples of congregational surveys in section 6).

Experiencing God’s presence at work was met with more ambiguity. Most respondents experienced more ambiguity around the joy they found in their work and experiencing God’s presence on a daily basis comparative to the meaning they and others perceived in their work. As one respondent so aptly stated after the presentation of some of the statistics at one of the events: “It is mind-blowing to think that people don’t experience God’s presence on a daily basis – we are the God’s presence in the workplace!” Nonetheless, work can be perceived as difficult and a necessary evil, unless it is placed in the bigger narrative of the Christian Biblical Worldview.

Work seemed to be meaningful. Most respondents indicated a high perceived meaningfulness of their work for themselves and for others. This could be indicative of an understanding that work is necessary and “good”, although fraught with some difficulty, as we will see from other results. What we cannot see from these results is what the source of meaning is that they find in their work, but this will be tapped further in section 5 where we look at the reasons respondents stated why they work.

More negativity towards the daily grind of work. Many people also seemed to struggle with the daily grind of work, showing more ambiguity and disagreement with the experience of their daily tasks adding value and satisfaction with their work roles comparative to other work aspects. Audiences with respondents that indicated more post-graduate qualifications and socially more desirable occupations seemed to be slightly higher on perceptions of satisfaction and value-add than those audiences that had lower qualifications. This is pertinent when working with the different demographic groups in a historically unequal society such as South Africa (i.e. different income groups, working with the unemployed; homemaking as a job etc.). Where FWE interventions are undertaken, it is critical to understand the specific context of the audience. Specifically (as an example) it would be important for individuals in lower income groups in more laborious contexts to understand work from a Christian Biblical Worldview and to build capacity and perspective around their calling in these jobs and industries.

Priority placed on Biblical values and principles. Another possible finding in these results includes the impact of being employed in an organization or organizational context where Christian values are primarily celebrated, compared to contexts where it is secondary or not acknowledged at all. The one overtly Christian not-for-profit organization that hosted an event had invited their different stakeholders, which included community members, employees, consultants and advisors and religious leaders. This audience seemed to be connected on values (Christian), social, development and overall vision levels. The results from these respondents indicate much higher levels of perceived positivism on meaning of work, than compared, for instance, with another audience that consisted mostly of respondents working in profit sectors where Christian values may be secondary. Still, the experience of the daily grind and the joy of work were still lower in this organization, which could be due to the vocation and industry that they find themselves functioning in, as it is one where their daily engagement with human suffering and brokenness is potentially high. Relationships seem to measure more positive, with having more contact with Christian colleagues at work and the overall perception of having someone at work who cares about them as a person being perceived as positive by more respondents.


Marketplace survey respondents were given the opportunity to briefly say why they work in order to understand more about the meaning behind their work, and these answers were then categorised into themes that contain similar reasons. The grouped results are available in Appendix 4:

  • Table 1: Why respondents work (occurrences grouped)
  • Table 2: Why respondents work (occurrences per category)

When grouped into major themes the motivations for working came out from most mentioned as working for others (their provision, relationship, community, to serve them and renew society), and second most-occuring themes were about working for God (obedience, worship, glory and being called by Him and for societal renewal). Third was working for reasons focused on the self (enjoyment, achievement, satisfaction and self-provision), and lastly earning and financial provision of any kind (in general, for self and for others).

The underlying sub-themes that were mentioned the most times included a theme of enjoyment, satisfaction, achievement and love for the work they do (52 occurrences in total across all the respondents). This is interesting, as the results of the perception statements indicated that they perceived themselves more ambiguous when it came to the item that indicated their perception of getting joy out of their work. This could have to do with the difference between their internal motivation for working versus the experience of the joy they get from the actual work, which would also make sense from the point that the experience of daily task value-add indicated lower levels of positivism.

Second highest category was that of general provision (49 occurrences). In this theme respondents had not specified for who they were earning or providing, only that it was a reason they worked. Another theme that came out in the top three was the ability to serve others in one way or another (having 48 occurrences). Financial provision for others (family, dependents and others – excluding self) was the next in the line of theme occurrences. Those themes that occurred the least included working for community and broader relationship reasons (13 occurrences) and financial provision for self (specifically). This may indicate an interesting (but not surprising) tendency to work to provide for those we see as close to us, but excluding those in the community that they don’t perceive as being a close part of their direct circle of influence and experiential worlds.


Another opportunity we utilized took place through two congregations where we could do diagnostic faith and work surveys to get a baseline idea of what people in that congregation’s perceptions and needs were in terms of faith and work integration. With the support of the church leaders and/or what we call faith & work champions of each congregation (the individual at that congregation that takes the lead on matters relating to faith, work and economics ministry), the FWA was able to survey two congregations in different parts of the country during 2019 – East London and Pretoria.

A more detailed survey was developed to measure faith and work aspects in more depth, more specifically focused on the theology of work within these congregations. Organisation-specific areas of need where also included, such as gaining information on what faith and work intervention formats were perceived as most suited to the respondents should these interventions be planned, and exploring people’s involvement in church small groups, where more in-depth discipleship is bound to take place over and above the attendance of sermons.

Appendix 2 gives more insight into the perceptions of respondents relating to their behaviour towards and theology of work in their different congregations:

  • Figure 7: Congregational FW survey (East London, March 2019)
  • Figure 8: Congregational survey (Pretoria, April 2019)

Again, general positivism ensued. In both example surveys, the general outcome is that of aggregate positivism on all aspects relating to aspects of work, faith and the integration of these. This would be expected from a congregation that makes faith & work ministry a priority enough to undertake a survey in their congregation, and could also be that the people who take an active interest in the FW ministry of such a congregation would take the time to complete such a survey.

Positivism towards work in God’s eyes. In terms of the more specific findings, both congregational surveys indicated that the items relating to work and its purpose as calling from God was met with positivism by the majority of respondents, which could be indicative of at least a cognitive understanding that what they do matters to God in the bigger scheme of His plan for life on this earth.

There seemed to be less agreement about the workplace as a discipling platform. In both surveys it is evident that people are less in aggregate agreement around the understanding that their workplace is where they fulfil the Great Commission, and also indicated that they do not have a clear strategy for applying the gospel at work. This could be indicative of the deficiency in church leader strategy to apply the gospel to the workplace context. As mentioned previously, people see work as an important part of God’s creation, but do not seem to know if and how to approach discipleship in the context of their workplace.

Again, supporting mechanisms were perceived lower. The local congregational church mechanisms in both congregations seemed to come out lower than other aspects measured. These include knowing of available materials to assist Christians in their work, and the church viewing their workplace as their ministry field and equipping them to serve there. Although congregation results differed in terms of participation in small groups, any established small groups could be an opportunity for the local congregational church to explore more around workplace application in each group’s specific context and to disciple people for their specific workplace.

Christian fellowship at work seemed lacking. Another item that indicated an opportunity for church leaders is that congregants in both surveys indicated greater aggregate disagreement in terms of having fellowship with Christian colleagues at work. It would be worth setting out to find ways to link and connect Christians in the marketplace with one another, such as creating workplace or industry-specific forums where Christians can rally to discuss aspects that impact and influence their vocations and industries and how these can be addressed from a Christian Biblical Worldview perspective.

The role of tithing as greatest contribution was ambiguous. The item about money (tithing) as greatest contribution to the church was met with a mixed bag of perceptions. This is also expected, as some individuals (for example people with a higher income and less time) may be the members of the body of Christ that funds other people in the community and gathered church context (with more time and less income) to be the hands and feet that use those funds.

There were many questions. We asked one congregation to provide their general faith and work questions. These questions were categorized into three overarching themes that seem to address the main needs:

  1. Effective witness – how to evangelise in a world that needs Christ but does not acknowledge Him.
  2. Living faith – addressing practical everyday challenges, overcoming barriers, handling conflicts of interest, being accountable and developing self-awareness in matters relating to faith.
  3. The meaning of work – the value and purpose of work in perspective through God’s eyes.

These themes seemed to address the main needs in terms of FW topics. As can be seen from these themes, much need exists in this specific congregation to understand the practicalities of living our faith in our everyday lives. For more detail, the specific questions raised have been provided in Appendix 3.


As we gain experience through our endeavours, we have been able to gather a few personal observations that may be of assistance to those that take an interest in FWE ministry and discipleship, which we share below:

  • God is at work everywhere already. What is needed is the intentionality to collaborate across various boundaries (that of hierarchy, work contexts, theological beliefs and other silo-ing effects) and bring together the various manifestations of the body of Christ to be instrumental in impacting the workplace specifically and general society more broadly.
  • Getting local church congregation leaders to understand and internalize the need for and application of FWE theology is challenging. However, there are pockets of excellence and forward-thinking in many parts of South Africa which can serve as models and examples to learn from.
  • Church contexts in South Africa vary widely. There is no one-size-fits-all organization or solution that will harness the body of Christ as an effectively functioning organism. Nor should there be. What is needed is that the gifts of each body member be discovered and put to use where it serves Christ and his body best. Church leaders can facilitate the finding and harnessing of the expertise and need of the people in their environment to optimise the manifestation of the body of Christ.
  • Change in the functioning of the body of Christ is an organic process that takes longer than anyone’s lifetime. Even so, with each (small) intentional input something develops from it. God does miracles daily – we just have to see them.

The following thoughts are put on the table as suggestions for the way forward:

Developing the application of the theology of work for the South African and wider African context is critical. The work context is becoming one of the new faces of the church gathered. This may mean (amongst others) that the gathered church in all its forms needs to engage their people that are in different vocations and industries to understand each of these from the four chapter gospel of the Christian Biblical Worldview. By unpacking the purpose, brokenness, challenges and blessings that come with each vocation and industry can Christians understand more of God’s bigger picture in general.

Someone needs to champion it. In some church contexts, it may very well be that the church leader may not the main person who should be unlocking FWE aspects for his/her church members. A suggestion is to look for the man and/or woman of peace (Luke 10:1-24) in each specific setting and mobilise and equip them for this service.

Gain workplace discipleship exposure. Church leaders are encouraged to learn more about and experience the context that the disciples that they serve function in on a daily basis. Encourage people from the different workplace settings to invite their local church leaders into their lives and expose them to their work environment. This can, at the very least, assist local congregational church leaders to understand more of the context in which the scattered church finds itself.

Involve all stakeholders and disseminate findings. As mentioned before, it is important for individuals in lower income groups in more laborious contexts in Africa to understand work from a Christian Biblical Worldview. To do this, it is necessary to intentionally provide (amongst others) a safe space, time and resources to facilitate the thinking though of theology of work in these settings – including first and foremost the members in the different communities in these engagements – and recording and disseminating this information in various formats.

Hear the need of workplace disciples. Listen to the need of the disciples in your gathered church context. Seek out materials and other resources and collaborate across boundaries to assist these disciples to understand more about Biblical norms applied to work. Share those learnings and disseminate it as far as possible.

Make the information available. In this day and age, an integrated electronic platform with well researched and practical content to serve the whole of Africa with the theology and practice of work discipleship is critical. Such a platform should be multilevel, accessible and usable; connecting the different manifestations of church. There is a need people to put up their hand in a collaborative effort to get this done. Are you one of the people that can put your hand up?


It is worth mentioning the limitations of this report, if only to create awareness of the opportunities that exist for the body of Christ to work together to provide more information in the South African context.

The samples are extremely small and therefore not generalizable. The findings in this report would therefore be applicable to specific contexts only, unless further broader research can validate the findings as they stand here. The samples were done on a convenience basis where the opportunity presented itself. FWE seems to be more of a developed economy priority at the moment, but more research is needed on what it entail in developing economies and contexts where poverty and social inequality includes the majority of the country’s population.

These preliminary marketplace and congregational findings may be helpful, but are in need of statistically significant evaluation as and when more results become available. Through the generous assistance and sponsorship from a corporate partner who provided expertise and a human web developer resource, the FWA has developed an automated web-based platform of this diagnostic survey that allows churches and other organisations to undertake the survey on their own, providing them with base-line information while assisting the FWA to gain more research in the South African context.

The FWA in collaboration with other partners is also in the process of working on more in-depth research surveys to inform different contexts in the marketplace, partnering with workplace ministries to gauge the impact of Christian faith-based interventions on productivity and engagement in the workplace.

The FWA has also started undertaking preliminary research in small pockets with local church leaders in South Africa and the wider African context to investigate how they perceive the theology of work. Lastly we have also initiated a project to understand more about perceptions of unemployment as part of the work sphere. We place a high value on partnership and collaboration on any of these projects to be able to further make materials available for use by the wider body of Christ.

We welcome feedback on this report, and look forward to seeing God at work through it.

In Christ,

The Faith & Work Alliance Team