The Church Is the People, Not the Building

2015 Work as Worship Conference


Your life is a story that impacts those around you. Is it one marked by judgment or love? In this 30-minute session from the 2015 Work as Worship Conference, Tony Bridwell poses this question in order to drive home the importance of leading with the love of Christ.

Tony Bridwell is Chief People Officer for Brinker International, one the world's largest casual dining companies. In his role, he provides strategic leadership to a number of people services including team member relations, talent acquisition, executive and organizational development, and succession planning. He is also the author of The Difference Maker: A Simple Fable About Making a Difference in the Life of Others and a coveted speaker for organizations around the world. 



From the start, Tony emphasized how the workplace, like the church, is all about people. We are wired for connection, which is an important reminder for business leaders. 

Take a moment to reflect on this point. Do you view your workplace with the priority of people? Are there other priorities that get in the way? If so, what are they?
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Have have you seen the importance of personal connection expressed in your workplace? What role have you played in either encouraging or discouraging personal connection?
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Tony shared the statement, "Our ability to worship outside Sunday is impacted by our ability to connect outside of church." In other words, the quality of our relationships outside of Sunday morning can often serve as a gauge for our worship of God.

What do you think about this statement? As you reflect on your own experiences of life on Sunday mornings compared to the rest of the week, do you see a difference?
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What has helped you successfully connect with others? What would you identify as obstacles to deep relationships?
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Whether we like it or not, our lives tell stories that speak to others about who we are. Tony said that we have two choices for our storylines: we can either live a story of judgment or we can live a story of love. While our stories may precede us leading others to draw beliefs about us based on a snapshot, in Christ, we always have the opportunity to change that.

When you consider your life, what story is it telling? Is it a story of judgment or love? What are the reasons behind your answer?
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Living a story of love means loving those who feel unloveable, which requires the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish. Are there people in your workplace who are difficult to love? How can you begin praying for God to help you today?
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Tony said that we cannot connect with others unless they know and understand that we love them. One of the best ways to do this is through service, placing their interests above our own. What does this look like in your leadership? What are some ways you have succeeded in serving others and what are some ways that you can improve?
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The stories we tell speak volumes. It is important that we submit our lives wholly to God if we are going to exemplify the gospel to those who are watching. To accomplish this, Tony offered three specific tips:
  1. Balance your time in the world with an equal amount of time in God's Word.
  2. Ask God, "Take what I have and use it."
  3. Recognize that your ability to connect with others is impacted by your desire to love them.
Working these into a daily practice can help the ways we connect with the people in our midst.

Luke 6:43-45 (ESV)

A Tree and Its Fruit

43“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit,44for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Tony shared how his addiction to news consumption began to have negative affects on his life, both physically and spiritually. What we put into our lives impacts the story we tell. Day to day, what do you spend the majority of your time consuming? How does it affect you?
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What is the abundance of your heart that you display to others?
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John 6:5-9 (ESV)

5 Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”6He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.7 Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.”8One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him,9“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?”

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Many times, fear and doubt can cause us to hesitate embracing the power of God. Like Andrew with the five loaves and two fish, we often respond with a "but" to those things that feel challenging and uncertain. Are there areas of your life where you struggle to trust in God's power? How could you respond differently in light of Jesus' miraculous feeding of the five thousand?
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As Tony said, it is impossible to love the unloveable apart from the power of the Holy Spirit. How can you begin praying differently this week for God to change the way you love those in your workplace? How will you lead with love today?
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Like the church, the workplace is about people first and foremost. As a leader, your life is telling a story to those around you. In light of this message, step boldly into the power of God and let your life be marked by the love of Christ. Commit yourself to His Word, offer Him your talents, and worship Him as He molds your life into one that exemplifies the gospel. 


For more information on the Work as Worship Conference or how to attend next year's event, visit www.workasworshipconference.org