3 Trends in the Marketplace Christianity Movement

3 Trends in the Marketplace Christianity MovementThe old Sunday-Monday, sacred-secular divide has been closing faster in recent years. The Church in the marketplace is maturing, and the Marketplace Christianity Movement is advancing.

In a previous post, I shared a brief history of the Marketplace Christianity Movement (1930 – present) to show how we arrived at this adolescent phase of the Movement. Here’s a quick review:

  • 1930s – 1950s: “Men’s Evangelism” Focus
  • 1960s – 1970s: “Charismatic & Diversity” Focus
  • 1980s: “Timeless Business Principles” Focus
  • 1990s: “Search for Meaning” Focus
  • 2000s (Neo-Calvinist stream): “Genesis 1 & 2” Focus
  • 2000s (Evangelical stream): “Business as Mission” Focus
  • 2000s (Pentecostal-Charismatic stream): “Cultural Transformation” Focus

What are the trends that characterize the Marketplace Christianity Movement in this present decade?

Trend #1: “Less Talk, More Action”

Since the 1990s, the Movement has been focused primarily on highlighting problems such as the separations between sacred and secular, Church and the workplace, etc. Today, rather than waiting for an endorsement of their ministry callings to business, many marketplace Christians are simply doing what they are called to do.

For example, many of today’s Christian entrepreneurs are launching and growing successful companies for the foundational purpose of glorifying God in the marketplace. Telos Ventures Capital is an early-stage venture capital fund that has built and invested in several of these “Gospel-centered, for-profit ventures” (ref. 1). The company invests $50,000 to $300,000 in viable, early-stage startups whose founders demonstrate a compelling response to the question, “How are you planning to live out your faith through this business model?” (ref. 2)

Trend #2: “Division of Labor”

Every spiritual gift given by the Holy Spirit to the People of God (the Church) is represented in the marketplace. As marketplace Christians are discovering their unique ministry assignments in the business world, a division of labor among the extended Church’s ministry responsibilities is emerging. The uniqueness of our different assignments is the reason for the wide variety of terms and phrases currently used to describe what God is doing in the business world:

  • Biblical Entrepreneurship
  • Marketplace Ministry
  • Business as Mission (BAM)
  • Workplace Ministry
  • The Seven Mountains Mandate
  • Work as Worship
  • Theology of Work
  • Values-Based Investing
  • Theology of Business
  • Eternal Return on Investment (EROI)
  • Christian Companies
  • Social Entrepreneurship
  • Great Commission Companies
  • Christ-Centered Companies
  • Workplace Evangelism
  • Kingdom Business
  • Values-Based Business

Let’s not worry about trying to get everyone to use the same terms. It’s actually a good thing that not every marketplace Christian approaches marketplace Christianity in the exact same way. Every marketplace Christian’s gifts and callings are essential for the fulfillment of God’s will for the business world.

Trend #3: “Ministry Collaboration”

As we recognize the variety and diversity of the Church’s marketplace assignments, many of us are realizing opportunities to collaborate with other Christians for the purpose of revealing the glory of God in the business world.

Christian business consultants are providing Spirit-led, Biblically-based business advice for Christian business leaders.

Christian venture capitalists are investing in the companies of Christian entrepreneurs.

Christian chaplains are serving the employees of Christian business owners.

Christian pastors are collaborating with business professionals in their churches to host marketplace ministry equipping programs.

Christian business professionals are referring new customers and clients to each other.

In the podcasting industry (internet radio), an entire eco-system is developing around the theme of “marketplace Christianity.” Since 2013, podcast shows such as The Success Edge, Church for Entrepreneurs, Kingdom Driven Entrepreneur, iWork4Him, Gospel Driven Entrepreneur, Eternal Leadership, Theology of Business, and others have emerged with the goal of helping Christians to apply their Christian faith to their work in business.

The Mission America Coalition has launched a new initiative in which key leaders in the Marketplace Christianity Movement have united under a vision to see 56,000,000 people reached with the love of Jesus in the workplace by the year 2020.

If 56,000,000 people are going to be reached with the love of Jesus in the marketplace by 2020, it’s going to require that we as marketplace Christians work together across denominational, racial, professional, socio-economic, and any other lines that divide us. Approximately 85 percent of Christians spend most of their waking hours working in for-profit companies, so the potential impact of our ministry collaboration for the glory of God is enormous.

Discussion: Have you noticed evidence of these current trends? Have you noticed any other current trends in the Marketplace Christianity Movement?

[i] http://telosventures.com/about/

[ii] http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/business/aroundregion/story/2015/mar/20/faith-based-business-competition-set-saturday-covenant/294316/

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  • Ricardo Vielmas

    First time here and really like what you have to say!

    • Darren Shearer

      Thanks, Ricardo! I hope to hear more from you!

  • Cool trend and about time, but there is still TOO much emphasis on a person’s spiritual GIFT being their PRIMARY focus instead of or versus one’s innate talents and skills that are supported or amended by their spiritual gift. One’s LIFE is their ministry, over and above their talents, skills, and spiritual gift. Does it take talent or gift to make a PB&J sandwich which a hungry person needs? Darren, you’re correct in deemphasizing the various names of Christians in business, but take it one step further and talk about one’s life being a full time ministry, not just their talents and spiritual gift.

    • Darren Shearer

      For a Christian, how are you defining “spiritual gift” as being something different from a “natural ability”?

      • Our natural talents or gifts we are born with them and continue with them even after we become believers. A spiritual gift is grace-given gift that is more specific and given at the moment we become believers that is neither earn, prayed for, prayed over, or given AFTER our salvation.

        • Darren Shearer

          Here is how I define “spiritual gift”… “A spiritual gift is a special ability given by the Holy Spirit through a born-again Christian to the people of God for the purpose of spreading the awareness of the glory of God throughout the earth.” Do you agree with that definition?

          • 100%, but it is over and above what we’re born with. If I had a signing voice, does my voice go away at salvation? No, but I’m probably given a spiritual gift that enhances my talent of music.

          • Darren Shearer

            According to our agreed-upon definition, a pleasant singing voice would only be a “spiritual gift” if it is used “for the purpose of spreading the the awareness of the glory of God…” People who aren’t born again can’t do that… even if they can sing nicely.

            It’s like the story of the fish and the loaves in the Bible… the fish and the loaves became “spiritual gifts” when they were brought to Jesus under His lordship to spread the awareness of His glory. Gifts of administration, teaching, etc… work the same way.

          • Then I would have to change my view and disagree with your definition (it becomes way, too broad) because my singing voice does not change after salvation, but I can and WILL use my voice to further God’s kingdom just as I will use my spiritual gift for God’s kingdom.

          • Darren Shearer

            What if one of my spiritual gifts is “leadership”… but I was also an effective leader before I became born again? You’re saying I have a spiritual gift of “leadership” as well as a natural ability of “leadership?” If so, what’s the difference? And how is it helpful for a Christian to live and work with such a sacred/secular distinction in mind?

          • Leadership (other than Pastor/Teacher and Evangelist) is not one of the listed spiritual gifts in the bible, so I’d disagree with your definition and conclusion. But if you have a natural talent for leadership (and in my view a WAY overused word in the Christian community), then by all means, you can use it to further the gospel of Christ, but so can one’s singing voice, graphic art ability, talents in medicine, writing, or even getting rid of bugs in a house. You’re also assuming you get MULTIPLE spiritual gifts. Where does that come from? Sorry, but that goes against want Paul describes as ears and eyes regarding spiritual gifts, not I’m half a body and you have the other half for God’s glory. We all have many more TALENTS we was born with, I know we each only have one spiritual gift.

          • Darren Shearer

            “In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well… If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously.” (Romans 12:6a,8b)

          • A more precise version of Rom 12:8 Amplified Classical “8 He who exhorts (encourages), to his exhortation; he who contributes, let him do it in simplicity and liberality; he who gives aid and superintends, with zeal and singleness of mind; he who does acts of mercy, with genuine cheerfulness and joyful eagerness.”

            But again, if we talking about you personally, by all means, use what God has given you to His glory, but there are FAR MORE body parts AND MANY MORE TALENTS than the spiritual gift of leadership, yet “leadership” is all I hear in various discussions and subjects in churches. As if everyone wants to be a leader/chief, and no one wants to be an Indian. Right?

            To exclude or diminish one’s natural talents at the expense of one’s spiritual gift is to dishonor God Himself for creating you. It’s talents and skills AND spiritual gift, not either/or.

          • Darren Shearer

            Are you arguing that “leadership” is or is not a spiritual gift? We could also use “administration” as an example if that helps, which is also a spiritual gift. How is it helpful for a marketplace Christian to make a distinction between his/her “spiritual gift” of administration and his/her “natural ability” of administration? …especially when the Bible doesn’t teach Christians to make such a sacred/secular distinction when it comes to our abilities.

          • Regardless of the gift, a gift is a gift, it does not matter other than God has given one to each of us. But you cannot deny our natural abilities, which are God created.

            Exod 31:3 I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship,

            Pst 139:14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.

            Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

            1 John 3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that bit did not know him.

            Sorry Darren, but your “sacred/secular” view of what God has created in us is really skewed. Our abilities were created by God, that is the good that God wants to save, but it is our sinfulness that God’s holiness can’t look upon. We ARE WORTHY as individuals to be saved, otherwise God would have NO reason to save us. It is our SIN which separates us from God, not our SKILLS and who He has created each of us to be and do. To dishonor what God has created in each of us, our natural talents, is to dishonor what God Himself and His creation, you and me. Our natural abilities versus our spiritual gift is NOT an either/or question, but an AND, our natural talents AND or WITH our spiritual gift.

            1 Cor 3:11-14 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, fnprecious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of EACH MAN’S WORK. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.

            Our WORKS which glorify God will be rewarded, our WORKS which glorify ourselves will be burned up.

            Rev 22:12 Behold, I am coming quickly, and MY REWARD IS WITH ME, TO RENDER TO EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO WHAT HE HAS DONE.

          • Darren Shearer

            Why would you say that the differences between a “natural ability” and a “spiritual gift” of leadership, administration, teaching, etc. “don’t matter”? Of course these differences matter.

            I’ll go back to the definition we agreed on previously. A spiritual gift is “a special ability given by the Holy Spirit through a born-again Christian to the people of God for the purpose of spreading the awareness of the glory of God throughout the earth.” Which of your abilities/talents don’t fit with this definition?

            Your notion that, for born-again Christians, some of our talents are “natural abilities” and others are “spiritual gifts” is exactly the sacred/secular distinction that I am challenging. I am challenging your assertion that my gifts (which I have in varying measures according to God’s grace) of administration, teaching, etc. that I use for God’s glory in the business world are somehow not spiritual enough to be considered “spiritual gifts.”

            When I became born again, the natural abilities I previously used for my own selfish purposes became spiritual gifts to the people of God for the purpose of spreading the awareness of the glory of God throughout the earth.

            Also, why are you still convinced that “leadership” is not a spiritual gift when the Apostle Paul couldn’t have been more clear about this in Romans 12:8? Or administration? Or teaching? Prophecy?

          • No, your comment, “exactly the sacred/secular distinction that I am challenging” is in error.

            I do say that the differences DO matter between both one’s natural talents (plural) and their spiritual gift (singular). Your talents you are physically born with, your spiritual gift you are spiritually born with, these are two distinct areas of our lives, however, they are employed in total with who each of us is.

            Your comment, “When I became born again, the natural abilities I previously used for my own selfish purposes BECAME SPIRITUAL GIFTS” is exactly where I completely differ.

            Wrong. Your natural talents do NOT become spiritual gifts, never will be, and neither will your spiritual gift ever become a natural talent. However, I WOULD COMPLETELY AGREE that you are now focusing and using BOTH your natural talents AND your spiritual gift for God’s glory. 100% agreed.

            But to say that you have ALL of the spiritual gifts or that your natural talents BECOME spiritual gifts is plain not scriptural. There is not one thing wrong with having a “fleshy,” natural talent of a singing voice or being good with numbers or being an NFL football player for God’s glory. We switch allegiance between glorifying ourselves and glorifying God (1 Cor 3:11-15), and that is sometimes a moment by moment decision we make.

            I agree that “leadership” is a spiritual gift, but let’s move on and think less about the “title” and more about what needs to be done going forward. 😀

            P.S. We all have MANY more individual talents (multiple talents in each of us) than our one spiritual gift, so let’s work at looking at applying ALL of them, our physical and spiritual, and work them in the Body as God needs us to do.

          • Darren Shearer

            No, Kevin. That is the sacred/secular distinction I am challenging.

            Great, so you do believe leadership is a spiritual gift. As a starting point for understanding what I am communicating, I encourage you to reflect on what might be the differences between a spiritual gift of leadership and a natural ability of leadership for a born-again Christian. It’s not wise to avoid this issue as you are suggesting.

            If you are convinced that a Christian can only have one solitary spiritual gift, let’s just agree to disagree. But please don’t suggest that I have said things that I simply didn’t say. For example, I did NOT say I have “all” the spiritual gifts.

            Ok, let’s close this thread. Peace.

          • You can challenge it, but I consider your premise as going too far. And I do reflect, I had never considered one having a natural talent and a spiritual gift of leadership, that requires me to research more about it as I have little to say about it at the moment.

            I was not saying you or anyone else has ALL of the gifts, but more in line with those that think they have more than one. Since we have many more natural talents, it just indicates to me that one would not get more than one spiritual gift since there are so few of them compared with our natural talents we’re born with.

            Agreed on closing this thread. Thanks for the discussion, may God lead us to His answers. Love to you and you tribe.

          • Darren Shearer

            Thanks for your comments, Kevin. I do appreciate your perspective. Thanks for helping to move the faith@work conversation and movement forward. Much love, Brother.

          • While I might disagree, we both have a LOT of work ahead of us to get things done and I look to find out what God says, not what I say. 😀

  • Samuel Oduselu

    I love your rich knowledge on the marketplace ministry movement. Keep up the great work

    • Darren Shearer

      Thanks for your kind words, Samuel!

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