In the foreword for Faith Powered Profession, the Lead Pastor of National Community Church (NCC) wrote:
“The Church should be in the middle of the marketplace.” The Marketplace is where people are, and we — as the Church, the Body of Christ — should meet them there.
— Mark Batterson, Faith Powered Profession
The way NCC lives this out is one of the things I love about my church here in D.C. I didn’t know it was one of their stated values when I started attending almost 10 years ago, but it was obvious to me from the beginning even if I didn’t see it written down.
The “marketplace” isn’t just a shop; it’s the whole world swirling around us – the cities and towns we live in, the economies we buy things from, the governments we participate in, the organizations we support. Think of the marketplace in Jesus’ time – it was where people went to get provisions and news (that was how you heard what was going on, back in the days before Twitter and Facebook). It’s where everyone is.
Most church buildings are in the middle of the marketplace physically, but I don’t think that’s what NCC means. As the Body of Christ – or Church with a capitol “C” – we also belong socially in the middle of the marketplace. As Christians, we should be participating in our economies and governments, and we should be supporting the organizations in our communities that are striving to do good and serve their neighbors.
I think NCC calls this out as something important for our church because they recognize that sometimes we’re hesitant to engage the world. It seems easier to stay inside our “safe” Christian communities – just hang out with our Christian friends, read Christian publications, serve our church body.
As Christians, we can be so quick to criticize what we see in the marketplace. In their book unChristian, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons write: “The research shows that Christians are best known for what they are against. They are perceived as being judgmental, antihomosexual, and too political.”
Is this the best way to engage the world? Or should we be the hands and feet of Jesus? If we just stay inside our Christian community, where will people learn about the love Christ has for them?
If we aren’t “out there,” what are the chances of them coming “in here”?
We can enter into the marketplace and serve our neighbors through creating strong businesses that provide quality, trustworthy products and services.
We can participate in the government – developing and implementing better policies. We can serve through non-profit organizations that meet vital needs.
What about you? How are you entering the marketplace? I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment or tweet me back and let’s talk!