What is Marketplace Ministry? Part I
Over the past several weeks since returning from our trip to the Philippines, we have had a lot of great conversations with people about what we experienced during our time there. We have been asked some great questions that have really helped us process some of our own thoughts and emotions about our call to serve cross-culturally. One of the most frequently asked questions has been ‘what will you be doing there’ or more specifically, ‘what is Marketplace Ministry?’ Well, we want to help answer this question for you and therefore will be sharing a series of blog posts over the next few weeks that we hope and pray will help answer the question: ‘What is Marketplace Ministry?’
Marketplace Ministry is a very broad missional activity. For Canadian Baptist Ministries (CBM) it is a new work that is unfolding as our colleagues Duane & Carin Guthrie are beginning to develop partnerships in South East Asia, based in the Philippines. At its core Marketplace Ministry has a strong desire to reach out to those who work each and every day throughout the world’s economies. The goal of course is to make disciples who will share in the work of spreading the Gospel within and through the marketplace (our places of work). Marketplace Ministry is not new, but it is gaining greater traction recently as many mission organizations are realizing the impact that our faith can have when fully lived out in the marketplace. There are many aspects to Marketplace Ministry: Faith at Work, Business as Mission, Christian Social Enterprise, just to name a few. In future posts we’ll unpack what each of these activities involves, but first to fully understand Marketplace Ministry we need to begin with a proper Biblical theology of work.
One of today’s most influential leaders in this area is Timothy Keller. Timothy Keller has written and taught extensively on the subject of a Biblical theology of work. In one of his books, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work, Keller explains that our work matters to God and God matters to our work! For far too long we (Christians) have adopted a hierarchy of work believing that only work that was deemed to be Christian mattered to God (such as pastors, theological educators, missionaries, etc…). Keller points out that it is wrong to separate work between spiritual and secular; God is a worker, and God created all work for His glory. Keller points out that it is through our work that God provides the things that we need in this life. So, does your work matter to God? The answer is ‘Absolutely’! All work matters to God and has dignity regardless of the income you earn or the social status it gives.
Does God matter to your work? Again the answer is ‘Absolutely’! As Christians, the Gospel of Jesus should have huge implications on how we conduct our work. In Colossians 1:19-20 Paul writes, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross”. Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan through his work on the cross. When Jesus left this earth he gave us a work to do; to spread the whole Gospel to the whole world. He gave us a ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18); as people who have been reconciled to God we need to share in the work, we need to fight against injustices in the world, help bring healing to the sick and hurting, work to alleviate hunger and poverty, and bring restoration to the broken world around us. The marketplace (our places of work) is where we spend most of our time and it presents some amazing opportunities to have a Kingdom impact.
Marketplace Ministry recognizes that all work matters to God (yours included). It recognizes that any follower of Jesus can fulfill their desire to serve God through their place of work. Whether you are a doctor, taxi driver, lawyer, construction worker, nurse, plumber, teacher, you get my point…He can use all work to assist in the spreading of the Gospel. Melanie and I have been appointed by CBM with this in mind; to assist in the formation of a global discipleship strategy within the context of the marketplace to have a lasting Kingdom impact, by working alongside our partners and colleagues.
CBM is committed to sharing God’s love through word and deed; this is integral mission and is foundational to all the work CBM is involved in around the world. CBM recognizes that the marketplace is a key mission field to bear witness to and share God’s transforming grace. As Melanie and I contemplate what life and ministry will look like for us in the Philippines, we have lots of questions and uncertainties, but one thing we are certain of are the tremendous opportunities God will give us to share in the transforming power of the Gospel within the context of the marketplace as we seek to join God and others in bringing hope, healing and reconciliation to the world around us.
Stay tuned for part II of this post on ‘What is Marketplace Ministry’ as we’ll begin to unpack some of the different missional activities being used within the context of the marketplace.
We need your support, both Prayer and Financial!
If you would like to become a Partner in Mission with us please contact Barbara Keys at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our Partner-in-Mission page at http://www.cbmin.org/who-we-are/field-staff/michael-melanie-waddell/