I just got back from lunch and coffee with some of the people from my new cell group, all of whom are successful and influential in their workplace and it got me thinking.
Today at church was the first time I had heard Pastor Peet Palm preach. I understand that he works with Ed Silvoso as part of Harvest Evangelism so I was excited to find out that he is also on the pastoral team of Faith Community Church.
Today’s message was on Marketplace Ministry and it was a timely reminder of the importance of Christian, Spirit-empowered ministry in the workplace.
I have to confess that I have always been very much “church-centred” in terms of my ministry involvement. Worship ministry (like pulpit ministry) is one of those areas of service where you see direct impact within the church itself. When you talk about “church”, you think about the people gathered on Sunday to express praise to God and to encounter His presence.
But as Pastor Peet reminded us today, the concept of “church” goes far beyond what happens on a Sunday.
I was quite convicted by what Peet mentioned: how some Christians think that they just have to survive Monday to Friday and go to church on a Sunday to “empower” them to face the river of filth in the marketplace, in the hope that as we wade in that river, we don’t swallow too much of its water.
Even though I have read a lot of Ed Silvoso’s material and understood conceptually the importance of marketplace ministry, I had always entertained this personal schism: that because God has called me to worship ministry, it means that marketplace ministry for me is of secondary importance.
Peet made this stunning point: if the marketplace is the heart of a city, then to see a city transformed, its heart must also be transformed.
There certainly is a role for worship ministers to rally the church in unity. I really believe for example that just as worship has been the fracture point for the church since the Reformation, the bringing together of the church through worship is also a key to unprecedented revival.
But that is just one side of the coin. There needs to be reconciliation between the primarily church-focussed ministries and the workplace ministries to see real transformation in the city. After all, if there is a river of filth in the marketplace, there is also a countervailing river: a river of life that starts from the throne of God (worship in the church setting) that gets deeper the further it goes from the temple (see Ezekiel 47). This river brings fruitfulness: trees planted next to the river bring forth a new fruit every month and their leaves are for the healing of the nations.
In this sense then, the temple and the market are inextricably linked: transformation and life starts in the temple through worship, and ends in the marketplace through worship.
So, I feel that God is realigning my paradigms in this area. Yes, God has called me to worship ministry, but He has also put me in the workplace for a purpose, not only to be a positive influence, but also to believe that through the power of the Holy Spirit, I can be responsible for transformation in the marketplace.
Can it be done? I end with this statement which Peet made: “Nothing can stop the church from filling the city with the Word of God, except the church itself.” It is God’s will. May it be done on earth as it is in heaven.