Marketplace Ministry

In recent years, numerous books, articles, websites and other resources have been made available to Christians to assist us in what some refer to as marketplace ministry. A great deal of research has been conducted to determine how God is using Christians to effect change in the workplaces across America.

For example, Michael Lindsay published his research on the role evangelical Christians are playing in the strategic power centers in American culture – Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite, Oxford University Press, 2007. In this book, Michael analyzes how evangelical Christians have become influential in what he calls the “halls of power” – politics, business, entertainment and the academy. It is a fascinating work that documents how evangelical Christian leaders are shaping these strategic cultural forces. Lindsay concludes his work by stating,

“Evangelical public leaders have brought faith convictions to bear in their respective spheres of influence. History will be the judge of whether this contributes to a more enlightened democracy, where engaged citizens use their faith to serve the common good, or whether we have merely witnessed the triumph of another interest group with a distinctive vision for society. What cannot be denied is that these leaders have brought evangelical faith—once confined to the lower ranks of society—into the very halls of power.”
         -Lindsay, Faith in the Halls of Power, pp. 230-231

On the heels of Lindsay’s published research, Andy Crouch released his ground-breaking book, Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling. Crouch and Lindsay are very good friends. Michael is now the President of Gordon College, a small, liberal arts Christian college just outside of Boston. Andy is now the new Executive Editor of Christianity Today. Andy’s book is a challenge to Christians to use their influence in every sphere to make culture. In fact, he challenges Christians to re-think how they perceive culture itself. He calls us beyond the images of engaging culture or shying away from culture. He offers a fresh perspective in his definition of culture: “Culture is what we make of the world. Culture is, first of all, the name for our relentless, restless human effort to take the world as it’s given to us and make something else” (Andy Crouch, Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling, InterVarsity Press, 2008, p. 23).

Books like these have inspired Christians in workplaces across America. God can use us to be change agents! We can shape and direct cultural trends through our work! God has placed His people in strategic places across the workplaces of our nation so that He can use us to accomplish His goals. These accomplishments through the lives of influential Christians should be viewed as the ministries of these various Christians!

With that said, you can be a minister at and through your work. You may not see yourself in one of the “halls of power” as Lindsay articulates. But, you are in a place of influence. You have the opportunity to be involved in marketplace ministry and God can use you to create culture where you are. In fact, it is our Christian obligation to be used by God to share the Gospel through our work. Ben Witherington, III points this out:

“In our culture we tend to think that things as deeply personal as religious beliefs ought to be private matters, but this will never do for an evangelistic religion. We have to become both gospel sharers and culture makers, and the latter involves work. Indeed, our work, if we are not preachers, teachers, or priests, may largely consist of culture making in the most basic of all senses, senses that would not be perceived by most as involving sacred tasks. Christianity, in order to be truly Christian, has to go public, has to become a shared public good, not merely a private self-help program for the already convinced.”
         -Ben Witherington, III, Work: A Kingdom Perspective on Labor, William B. Eerdmans, 2011, p. 106.