Ministry in the Marketplace?

Coming alongsideDo you find satisfaction in your work? The vast majority of adults spend more time working than any other activity. To many, work is a toilsome necessity that must be done to survive but does not satisfy. For others, especially men, the workplace can fulfill our need for a feeling of accomplishment and tangible rewards. Frequently one’s perceived value as a man is often derived by his success or failure at work – in the present day a dangerously false foundation for one’s self-esteem!

In many churches people feel a ‘disconnect’ between the world of faith and their work. We tend to speak of work done in the church or for the church as “sacred” and of being “called” to the ministry. Work not directly associated with the church is often referred to as “secular” and perceived not to have much intrinsic value. This sacred-secular divide is contrary to the teaching of scripture. In Genesis 2, God placed Adam in the garden to “to cultivate it and keep it” giving purpose and value to his labor before the fall into sin. It was Bezalel, the divinely-inspired mechanic and master workman who built the tabernacle, that was the first one that scripture says God “called” for a sacred purpose (Exodus 31:2, 35:30-35). And Solomon wrote that “A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?” (Eccl. 2:24-25).

During his time on earth, Jesus spent a surprising amount of time in the marketplace. In the New Testament, out of 132 public appearances, 122 were in the marketplace. Out of 52 parables, 45 had a workplace context. And out of 40 miracles in the book of Acts, 39 were in the marketplace. The twelve disciples were all men Jesus equipped from the workplace. The Apostle Paul also told believers not to leave their workplace (in some cases slavery!), but commanded that “each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him” (1Cor. 7:20). Paul also “reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there” (Acts 17:17).

The concept of work as ministry was forcefully taught during the Reformation. The Apostle Paul had written that “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Col. 3:23-24). Based on this instruction, Martin Luther transformed the Roman Catholic idea of “good works” into an obligation to work diligently as a sign of grace. He removed “vocation” or “calling” from the religious realm where it applied only to the few and declared that ALL Christians already had “vocations” or “callings.”

God has placed each one of us in the workplace to be “salt and light” and a “city on a hill” to those in our sphere of influence (Matthew 5:13-14), and wants us to partner with Him to build up the “father and son” business we have inherited in Christ (Galatians 4:6-7). His goal is that His kingdom will come, His will be done, on earth (your workplace) as it is in heaven (Matt 6:10). So workplace ministry more than just evangelism, but encompasses our total life at work, including the management of all our activities, relationships and responsibilities for God’s glory.

Doug Sherman, author of “Your Work Matters to God”, wrote that “Our day-to-day work is not “secular.” It has intrinsic value. God has ordained work as a means of supporting our families. He established it as a way for us to earn money to help those in need. Through our work we meet the market needs of our community. And, it is a form of worship because in working with all our strength for him, we demonstrate our love for God.” For links to books on ministry in the marketplace, please visit the Marketplace Ministry resources page.

Marketplace Ministry Small Group Launch

Recently we launched a workplace ministry small group for mutual encouragement, support, and discipleship training in developing each one’s workplace ministry. The group is based on the Christian Business Mens Connection (CBMC), a men’s ministry founded during the Great Depression, whose mission is to present Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord to business and professional men and to develop Christian businessmen to carry out the Great Commission. CBMC groups welcome men from different church backgrounds and economic strata who are called to represent Christ and His kingdom in the workplace.

Our meetings will be held on the 2nd & 4th Tuesdays (beginning July 14th) at the Einstein Bagel at 531 Firstfield Road and Quince Orchard Blvd in Gaithersburg from 6:45 to 8:00 AM sharp. If your soul is hungry to find some new friends, to develop a closer walk with Christ, or to build up your personal ministry, you are welcome to join us. Please contact Paul Schomburg, 301-330-4999 (home) or [Paul at mccmm.org] for more information.

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