Marketplace Christianity – What is the big deal?
When I moved to full time ministry three years back, my first portfolio was to manage a ministry for marketplace Christianity. The key idea is to garner resources for Christians who are working in the secular world. And their secular workplaces are what Christians call the marketplace. But this ministry, which has since been defunct, was not the only one out there. There were other organisations dealing with marketplace as well, in their various forms. These include Full Gospel Business, Marketplace Christian Network and Cru Truth Living Ministry. The basic mission of these ministries is simple: to disciple professionals and working adults to be godly Christians in their respective marketplace. And each of these ministries has their framework on how to do this.
As I am reflecting on this ministry, I want to pen down a few thoughts about this concept called marketplace Christianity.
1. Marketplace Christianity is all about discipleship
I have surveyed many ministry websites on marketplace Christianity. In general, they try to achieve and imply a few things:
- Disciple professionals and working adults to be godly Christians in their marketplace.
- “Reclaim” the mountains in the marketplace.
- To empower Christians to share the Gospel in their marketplace.
- Help businessmen and women to lead their business in a God-pleasing manner.
- Change culture through influence in the marketplace.
And there are many more.
But as I reflected, it all boils down to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV). It is about going and making disciples. As the church lives out the Great Commission, we realise that this is not merely something lived out within the church. Because most Christians live a life outside of their Sunday church life, they should carry the Great Commission into their workplaces. This is the crux of what we call marketplace Christianity. It is not really a special ministry. It should not even be a ministry where preachers hijack to propagate their agendas. In fact, I do feel that it should be a natural offshoot of our Christian life.
This brings me to my next point.
2. Marketplace Christianity is sometimes over-emphasized
Christians who proclaim themselves to be involved heavily in the marketplace ministries often overstate their case. I conclude this from my own observation. Many whom I talk to seem to believe that the church is not doing enough to equip Christians in marketplace. Hence they feel that there is a need for a marketplace ministry to come in.
I believe that this is true to some extent. When a local church has insufficient resources, or feels that church resources can be better diverted somewhere else in a particular season, it can mean that the working adults will feel neglected. They may feel that they are not adequately equipped and mentored enough to face the challenges in their work.
But the case for a special marketplace ministry may really be overstated. It is fair enough to say that we may need a special group to minister to celebrity artistes whose schedule may not be able to attend the normal church settings. We can even say that business people may need a separate settings where they can hear from people whom they can relate to. But how about most other people, like you and me? If my church is doing a good enough job to equip me to face the marketplace challenges, then why do I need to go to a marketplace ministry to seek equipping?
3. Marketplace Christianity is a reflection of our relationship with God
I believe that we live out our relationship with God in three main domains – the family, the church and the marketplace. These are the constant arenas in our lives that we need to watch out for. I will talk about these domains more in the future. Here, I just want to highlight that wherever we are, we live our lives from our relationship with God. If we want to be God’s witnesses in the marketplace, we have to first have a vibrant relationship with God.
The commandment says it clearly – that we must love God with everything we have (Mark 12:30, NIV). The implication is that we need to continually know Him by spending time studying His words and praying. We simply need to know who God is before living out His will in the marketplace. Living out a marketplace Christianity means we involve God in our secular work as well.
But still gather in your marketplace!
At this point, I have said much. But I still encourage Christians to form their own gatherings in their respective marketplace. In my two secular jobs, I have formed prayer groups with my colleagues. We meet on a weekly basis to pray and to minister to one another. The one I started in my first job is still going strong. And I am currently maintaining one right now. The reason why I do this stems out from my third point – that this is a result of my relationship with God. I want to create an environment where Christians in the marketplace can come together and minister to one another. At the very least, this is something our brothers and sisters in church are unable to do if they are not our colleagues.
So what are your thoughts? Let me know with a comment and I will make sure I reply you!