What is Marketplace Ministry?

This post about defining marketplace ministry and why it is critical is part of a series of posts that come from the material I recently used to teach a small group of Christian business owners and leaders in Chandigarh, India.

marketplace ministry

The focus of this material is also the focus of this blog – God’s call for us to run our businesses as a platform for Christian ministry. Hopefully, after reading this series, you will agree that it is God’s will that we run His businesses as stewards with an eternal perspective. You should also have a better understanding of what this looks like in today’s marketplace.

My Story

As I began teaching the group in India about exactly what marketplace ministry looks like, I thought it would be helpful to start with my own story as an example. Hopefully, through reading about my experience, you will get a better picture of what I mean when I talk about marketplace ministry or Christian business.

As the oldest of three sons, I grew up working in the family’s automobile business. I always expected to eventually take over my father’s business, along with my brothers. About 12 years ago, I was in that very role – running the family business. I was enjoying what I was doing and could easily see it being my lifelong career.

My Awakening

That is precisely when I had a spiritual awakening. Through Bible study and prayer, I began to realize that I was only giving God 1.5 days a week. I was spending the rest of my time thinking about business, profit, and family.

Convicted, I went to my father and explained that I wanted to leave the family business to pursue work that would allow me to give God more of my time in actively living out my faith.

My Desires

I sincerely wanted to bring others to know Jesus, help others in need, teach what I was learning in my Bible studies, and to generally be a great disciple of Jesus. I just felt like I could not accomplish that while giving so much time to the business. So I began praying about how God would establish me in a career that would give me the flexibility to accomplish all He had put in my heart.

His Answer!

The crazy thing? It took nearly two years, but He showed me exactly where I was to accomplish all of this…in the very family business I was trying to give up!

In a brief period of time, God showed me how all of my desires for ministry could be achieved through the business I was already running. I just had to approach this business through His eyes, not the ones I had been using.

My Decision To Stay

I went back to my father and explained my revelation. He fully supported my request to stay in the business and apply this new vision. From that point until now, I have been giving my all to running a Christian business from an eternal perspective. My goal is to accomplish all God laid on my heart, but to do it through our family business.

What IS Marketplace Ministry?

One website defined marketplace ministry as, “The directing of evangelism and other Christian activities toward the secular marketplace.” I think the simplest definition is to be a disciple and witness for Christ in and through your work or business. A similar approach is having the attitude of being a full time minister in the workplace.

In a recent post, one of my readers sent me a comment that said my description of a Christian business sounded just like a description of the daily life of a normal Christian. I told him he was right…taking your faith to work should look exactly like what you do with your faith when you are in church or trying to reach others for Jesus outside of work.

Location is the only difference.

Why Is It Critical?

Folks, there are many reasons why marketplace ministry is critical. First of all, in the secular marketplace, the majority of the people you work with are lost and need Jesus. You will interact with many who will never darken the door of a church. Because they are on their own turf in the marketplace, they are relaxed and not spiritually on guard like they would be if you forced them into a church setting.

Not only are they more comfortable, but due to your relationship with them, you can have more influence on them than your pastor can. They trust you. They feel it is his “job” to push them toward God. With you, it is different in their eyes.

So What?

My prayer is that you recognize where God has placed you in business and what He expects as a result of your efforts there. He is not going to grade you on your business success as the world does. Instead, God is looking for the eternal impact you will have as a Christian business owner or leader.

Commit right now to run your business with an eternal perspective. Commit to making an eternal impact on everyone you meet through your business dealings. Commit that you will no longer attempt to separate your business life from your spiritual life – instead acknowledging they are one and the same!

What is your view of marketplace ministry and Christian business?

Do you see the opportunity for your eternal impact in the marketplace?

Where are you on the path toward marketplace ministry?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • I’m really interested in seeing where this series goes, Chris. Having been a business major, I’ve been in and out of several businesses and would like to hear more of your ideas on being a Christian in the work place. There are definitely a lot of challenges!

  • Michaelholmes Mh

    Market Place Ministry should be the focus of the church today.One mission was triggered by a missionary that got irritated by thousands of Christians singing hymns and is so comfortable of their eternal security they forgot their responsibility.

  • Rajeev

    Even In Some Countries,Where there Prohibted to Preach Gospel. And Hard to Do door to door evangelism and evangelism in Other Ways . There Those Believers In Christ at Marketplace Where They Work . Through MarketPlace Ministry  They can reach many Unreached With the Gospel .  

    • Great points, Rajeev! That is why we are teaching them, right?

      • Rajeev

        Yes You are Right Brother, As I Said EVEN MarketPlace Ministry is Effective Way to Reach Individulas In MarketPlace Where , One Preacher Cannot Reach In Person Openly .  I Know One Man he is very Busy Person and He Visit all Over World Doing Buisnesses and He Visited Many Countries in Middle East . And While His Buisness Visits in The Middle East He Witnessed Jesus Christ In the MarketPlace To His Newly Met friends and Peoples whom who was having Buisness with . And That Make Great Imapact in The Others Lives . I Heard Some Testimonies that How Peoples Got saved Through Personal Evangelism In the MarketPlace that Way .. WOW Praise The Lord .

  • Thanks for this post, Chris. It is a great reminder that we are not Christ-followers just a few hours a week, but 24/7. I like your comment that “location is the only difference.” How true and how easy it is to forget. My church as a sign at the exits “You are now entering the mission field” as a great reminder that the church is like an outpost to be renewed but that as we go about our week, we still represent Christ in our places of business. Encouragement came in you story of discover that you don’t have to be employed by the church to be a full time minister of the Gospel.

  • Thanks Nick. More people need to know this, right?

    • I struggled with that at one time, feeling God calling me to minister to people and incorrectly assuming that I needed to enter the full-time ministry. Through wise counsel, he showed me that there are many areas I could enter where I could minister to people! Now I try to share that with students I encounter on a daily basis.

  • I’ve heard your story, at least in bits and pieces, through your blog, but I enjoyed hearing it more completely here. What stood out to me and spok to my spirit is to “no longer attempt to separate your business life from your spiritual life.” I think this applies to anyone, whether or not they operate their own business. I started connecting with this principle about 2 1/2 years ago, and I am finding great joy in seeing what God does as I direct my pursuits toward this aim. As Christians, we tend to segment our lives and especially God in our lives. We make Him a separate item on our “to do” lists instead of letting Him guide and direct everything. Very passionate about this topic, which is one reason I love your blog. Keep up the great work!

    • Thanks Kari! I wish more people understood this concept…every part of our lives is spiritual! WE want to separate it out, but God does not see it that way.

      • All a part of the process of sanctification. I’m so thankful He hasn’t given up on me and keeps moving me toward perfection.

  • That is good to hear, Nick. If you can influence them as students, you can direct them to greater impact beginning at an earlier age than we did. I wish I could go back and come out of high school with the mindset I have now…I hate the wasted years!

  • Tom

    Quoting from Oswald Chambers, June 6th. “The profound thing in man is his will, not sin. Will is the essential element in God’s creation of man: Sin is a perverse disposition which entered into man. In a regenerated man the source of will is almighty. “For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasrure.” You have to work out with concentration and care what God works in; not work your own salvation, but work it out, while you base resolutely in unshaken faith on the complete and perferct Redemption of the LORD. As you do this, you do not bring an opposed will to God’s will, God’s will and the life is as natural as breathing. God is the source of your will, therefore you are able to work out His will. Obtinacy is an unintelligent ‘wadge’ that refuses to be enlightened; the only thing is for it to be blown up with dynamite, and the dynamite is obedience to the Holy Spirit.”

    Chris, as I was reading your blog I was thinking of your family. I was also thinking of my life here on earth since moving back to N.C. It was not our choice to be here so long, but it has been God’s will for us to be in this community ministry. Jesus, shares with us in Matthew 4, beginning in verse 12 about his public ministry. There are many attributes that one has in a Street Ministry that does not come to those inside the 4 walls of a cathedral. Freedom of Spirit is the most profound I think. God’s says and we do. There are no hierarchy of counsels or forms to fill out, the way is clear, the freedom is most profound, God is in control and He is welcomed, more-overly, He is expected to guide. Without His guidance, there is just time and people. Listening for the word from God and being obedient to that movement is the most precious of relationships, being taught in the market place by the Holy Spirit, given discernment of ones surroundings and at times the historical references are remarkable.

    Bravo to you and your commitment in Christ Jesus!

  • Lot of comments on this one. I appreciate your reminder of who we are when and where. We are followers of Jesus Christ at all times in all places.  The internal tension happens when we profess one thing in a church setting but live another thing at home and at our work place. You’re doing an excellent job of incorporating the truth that God has hold of the entirety of life.

    • Thanks Barnabas!  As always, I appreciate your supportive words!

  • Thanks Tom. I appreciate your encouragement!

  • Ikthoosdotorg

    Chris, well done. I appreciate your willingness to share your story and experiences. I wanted to highlight two sentences from your article.

    You mentioned, “I just had to approach this business through His eyes, not the ones I had been using.” This is a great point. And what does God see? Our hearts. What does God seek? His glory. You hit the nail on the head.

    You also mentioned, “From that point until now, I have been giving my all to running a Christian business from an eternal perspective.” This is the right perspective. Too many people put it on the Pastor to evangelize. So many have been trained to just invite people to church. What’s the outcome? Are more people coming to church? Christian, remember that we are the church. When they see us, they see two things, Jesus and the church; even if we are not representing them in a godly manner. Consider this; we are ambassadors of Christ, we do not speak on our behalf. What are people around us hearing and seeing?
    Thank you Chris for the encouragement.

    • Great comments George! Thanks for adding to the discussion.

    • Your points speak to me about vision, which has been on my mind a lot lately. Working on our own personal vision and lining it up with His vision really is the key. If you’re interested, you can check out my post from today and alst Friday on vision therapy, but the main idea gets at how we need to be aware of the status of our personal vision. When we are and when it lines up with scripture, we are on our way to truly living with an eternal perspective. I’m still sort of processing this idea, but I hope my point is somewhat clear.

  • Rob Streetman

    I appreciate your simple definition. Problem is that many Christians don’t understand what the normal Christian life should look like away from work. Ministry equals mission trip; disciple making equals an event (Sunday service, Bible study, etc.). This movement we call Marketplace Ministry suffers from the same afflictions we have experienced in the organizational church – lack of foundation in the very basics. What a wonderful opportunity we have to train Christian Leaders in an environment that embraces change (aka, transformation), training (aka, disciple making) and teamwork (aka, community). God knows what He is doing. The decline of the church in America has not caught Him by surprise. I thank God for your faith and obedience. God bless you with vision, wisdom and strength. Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.

    • Thank you Rob. I agree and continue to seek His guidance on the ways we can do His work.

  • icyharris

    I think Christians need to be the salt and light and you can’t do that if your only company is other Christians. I have enjoyed working with and being in classes that were secular, as it gave me a chance to share my faith and invite people to church. That’s also the reason I send my daughter to public school because she has become stronger in her faith having to explain and defend it to the unsaved friends that she has.

    • Amen to that! I certainly want some Christians working in our company, but I want others that we can influence in that direction!

  • Charles Sarpong

    Christianity is about life and is actually life. And life must be lived whether at home, business, school, church or wherever one finds himself or herself. God created man to live and Christ Jesus has shown us the way to live. Praise be to God forever and wherever.

  • joseph jones3rd

    I just wanted to say to All God children including me as us all in one God is almighty strong and is my way of all the miracles He has provided wit my life sence day 1 I’m certified hear for a
    Purpose and ima that purpose Google me and see wat I’m talkin about Joe Jones life in the balance I’m faithful to God and I⚓⚓⚓⚓⚓⚓⚓⚓ will inshore the news forever Amen!!!!!!

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  • Jimmy Johnson

    Sounds like a “backdoor” approach to obtain more money from businesses so that the Pastor can lead a ‘high and mightier” lifestyle. And we all know that the real focus of these so-called “non-denominational” churches is money. They just use slick marketing & programs and “jedi mind tricks’ on their young and unwise “members” to bilk them.