Truth at Work is the result of a vision beginning in 1997. That vision was the culmination personal, professional, and spiritual life changes that Ray Hilbert experienced over the course of a decade after graduating from college with a business degree.
Ray graduated from Anderson University with a marketing degree in 1988 and started his journey in a sales position at a family-owned business. The owner had been one of Ray’s Sunday school teachers as a young boy, so Ray had the opportunity to observe a businessman making daily decisions that integrated his Christian faith into the workplace.
After two years in that position, Ray went to work for a national company. This gave him the exposure of working in a large company that was not being operated on biblical, but rather on secular methods, where “winning at all costs” was the standard model.
Ultimately, Ray was then recruited to work for an international firm where he was exposed to even greater diversity in hiring and business practices, that while acceptable in the world’s eyes, conflicted in many ways with his Christian faith and value system. He felt as though he was living in two separate worlds: the “real” world of his work and career, and the “Christian” world of his church and Bible studies. He felt no real connection between the two and sensed a tremendous isolation that he was not successfully living for God in, and through his work. Every Sunday evening he would feel dread as he “geared up” for the workweek ahead. This would prove to be a relevant part of the foundation of what would later become Truth at Work.
Partly in response to this conflict in values, as well as a growing desire to start and own his own business, Ray and a partner launched their own company in 1991. They produced and marketed clothing apparel with Christian and pro-family values printed on hats, shirts, etc. It was this experience that allowed Ray to use his business for ministry purposes, as he was able to print and donate products for churches and ministries promoting their messages.
Additionally and with a different partner, Ray launched an auto dealership named Golden Rule Autos. He learned first-hand that this was a business that would test his commitment to live out his Christian faith in the way he conducted business as it required disclosure and transparency with customers that ultimately cost him a lot of money. In these two business ventures, Ray learned first-hand that commitment to integrating one’s faith can be both rewarding and challenging.
In the fall of 1993, Ray was asked to help promote the Promise Keepers conference that was to take place in Indianapolis, Indiana in the summer of 1994. Eventually, Ray sold his stakes in the two businesses to take a full-time position on the staff of Promise Keepers, and he was responsible for the work of the ministry in the mid-western area. From 1993-1998, as Ray traveled America in his role with Promise Keepers, he talked with hundreds of business people who were struggling to integrate their faith into their work. He recognized a pattern of people who were frustrated and bored with their careers, not seeing any eternal significance to what they did 40 to 60 hours per week, or any connection to their Christian faith being lived out in the marketplace on a daily basis.
It was in 1997 that Ray decided to submit an outline of an idea to the leadership of Promise Keepers, looking to see if the organization would be willing to launch a marketplace ministry initiative within the structure of the Promise Keepers organization. The primary premise of the concept was to develop an ongoing discipleship/coaching model that would encourage business people to live out their faith in and through their work and careers, while equipping them to make biblically based decisions in the midst of the “real world” daily challenges in the marketplace, while earning the right to share the Gospel with customers, vendors, employees, co-workers, etc. After learning Promise Keepers was not interested in pursuing the endeavor, Ray felt a call of the Lord upon his heart. He resigned at Promise Keepers to pursue the vision.
In fall of 1997, Ray approached Indianapolis businessman Matt Peelen with the idea of partnering with him in launching the new endeavor. Matt was in the process of selling his successful packaging business, and in early 1998 Ray and Matt created a non-profit corporation called Truth at Work. While it was not clearly known exactly how the new organization would function on a daily basis, or precisely what this new marketplace discipleship model would look like, Ray and Matt felt confident the Lord would direct their steps.
In March 2000, Ray and Matt held an initial interest luncheon where they invited 25 Indianapolis based business owners to participate in a vision casting lunch meeting. By the end of March, 10 Christian owners had signed up to participate in the first Round Table Group, and the group held its first meeting in April 2000. Of those original 10 businessmen, currently six of them are still participants in Truth at Work more than 10 years later.
In 2006, Truth at Work began to set sights on developing expansion plans into new markets. With a variety of brochures and curriculum books in order, the group felt positioned to see if what had been developed could be duplicated in other markets. Committing to a 3 year beta test to see if the model could be replicated and sustained by training others to conduct the program, the ministry began identifying, recruiting, and training Local Chapter Presidents to build and facilitate the monthly Christian Business Round Table model.
The model could in fact be replicated successfully, with the Chapter President having a sustainable marketplace ministry platform to Christian business owners and leaders, while producing a strong part-time or full-time revenue stream.
Looking Toward the Future
The ministry of Truth at Work is committed to following the Lord’s leading as we expand our footprint and impact, both nationally and internationally. By partnering with external content providers, thought leaders, experts, authors, and trainers, the goal of the online content portal is to become the world’s leading platform for delivering content to Christian business owners and leaders through highly trained Chapter Presidents and Church Ambassadors. Leveraging unparalleled methods and technologies, Truth at Work is connecting Christians in business, while providing members with a life and business-changing experience. Truth at Work is faithfully working toward the day when thousands of Christian business owners and leaders will build successful businesses and organizations while radically impacting the world and marketplace with the Good News of Jesus Christ!