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.