If God has called you into business, please don’t wish you were called somewhere else. The marketplace is a great place for Christians right now. Here’s why:
Today, less than 20% of Americans attend church regularly. In many European countries, the percentages are much lower. At the current rate, regular church attendance is projected to drop to 11.7% by 2050.
The good news is that these people who aren’t attending church will still be waking up to go to work alongside their Christian co-workers in the marketplace each morning.
At least 85% of the Christian workforce spends 60-70% of their waking hours in the marketplace. In addition to serving our families and our local churches, the marketplace is the primary context in which our spiritual gifts should be used. The ministry potential for Christians using their spiritual gifts collaboratively in the marketplace is astounding!
(In case you don’t know what your spiritual gifts are, my forthcoming book will include a spiritual gifts assessment as well as teaching on how you can use your unique gifts for ministry in the marketplace.)
Church leaders often are criticized for the lack of discipleship and spiritual growth among their congregations. Let’s give our pastors a break. How much discipleship actually can happen during a two-hour church service on Sunday?
Discipleship—that is, becoming more like Jesus—happens in everyday life. Yes, discipleship can happen anywhere… even during a two-hour, lecture-style event on Sunday. However, the potential for discipleship and ministry investment in a weekly service is a fraction of what is possible during an entire work-week spent with our co-workers, clients, etc.
If you were shopping for a car, you’d probably go to a showroom. Before you bought anything, you’d probably want to see if the car actually functions properly on the road. You might even ask the dealer to allow you to take the car home for a day or two to test it out.
The local church is like the showroom for Christianity. The marketplace is the test drive. The marketplace is where our unbelieving co-workers get to see if they really want what we have. Daily, they see how we react under pressure. They see how we treat people. They see how much God truly matters to us in our daily lives.
As mentioned in “Reason #1,” most people aren’t even coming to the “showroom” anymore, so marketplace Christians are now serving as both the showroom and the test drive of Christianity.
Personality-driven and super-pastor Christianity doesn’t work in the marketplace. Having a bunch of Christians sitting on the sidelines of ministry may not prevent a local church from increasing numerically, but it won’t transform the marketplace for the glory of God.
So far, most of the teaching about “marketplace ministry” has been defining marketplace ministry without regard for people’s unique spiritual gifts. For example, if I have an apostolic gift, of course I’m going to view marketplace ministry as a mandate to “ascend and take the Business Mountain for God” (see 7 Mountains). If I have a pastoral gift (i.e. marketplace chaplains), of course I’m going to view marketplace ministry as a calling to “care for the personal needs of my employees and/or co-workers.”
We need to approach marketplace ministry in a way that leverages the spiritual gifts of all Christians in the marketplace. The “one-size-fits-all” approach only produces self-condemnation and ineffectiveness for marketplace Christians attempting to operate outside of their God-given spiritual gifts.
We can choose whether to attend a Baptist Church, Pentecostal-Charismatic Church, Presbyterian Church, a Non-Denominational Church, etc… but most of us don’t have the luxury of co-working only with Christians with whom we agree theologically. The marketplace has a way of diluting some of these differences. This opens the door to collaborative ministry beyond the walls of our local churches and traditions.
All money comes from value that has been created in the marketplace, and business professionals ultimately decide what gets funded. These business professionals need to know God and His plan for their lives in order to make righteous decisions concerning money.
Although business is often thought of only as the economic engine of the Church, I hope that we will begin to see and realize its full potential for transforming society for the glory of God.