Integrating Ministry & Marketplace: The Temple Template

The vocational life is hard work.

Early mornings, long days, rough nights…if you wear many hats and juggle multiple responsibilities…you know the drill.

Yet, as tempting survival/‘just get ‘er done’ mode may be, truth is: we were never meant to live this way.

Yes, strategic compartmentalization can center the gravity of focus and break busy days into doable, bite-sized moments; however, when we consider our identity as effective influencers in light of Jesus’ ministry,  we ultimately find…

a) Work (what we commit our hands and minds to) and faith (what we commit our beliefs to) were never meant to be mutually exclusive.

b) The marketplace can be just as much a hub of powerful, life-changing ministry as the church1.

Take Matthew 21:12-17 for instance…

After Jesus kicks off the triumphal entry (v. 1-11), note the first place he targets (i.e. the temple – v. 12) and the reason why (i.e. to cleanse it).

I don’t know about you, but when I consider the fact Jesus deliberately went to the temple to make its original intent known as opposed to simply stopping for a cup of coffee and the ‘Daily Jerusalem’…that speaks to me.

Granted, Jesus channels his inner Adele for time, turning tables and all (v. 12b), but the key here isn’t so much Jesus reacting in frustration as much as Jesus setting things right, being fearlessly intentional in speaking truth and breathing life into what had become a lifeless environment.

So while this passage reference may seem random, when we talk about what pastoral ministry in the marketplace looks like and how to rightfully use our spiritual gifts in similar arenas, I believe there’s important application to be found.

First off, to be an effective marketplace minister, we must be courageous and purposeful with the truth. Yes, we can be highly skilled with the gifts God has given us; yes, we can be articulate, persuasive, and emit confidence, but if what we’re divinely given is utilized with limited integrity, it’s like trying to build a sturdy structure on quicksand.

Secondly, when we consider what grieved Jesus most, we deduce how wise marketplace leaders understand the time and place to deal with financial affairs as they understand the providence of God (i.e. the difference between a love for money and a love for God who provides the money2 ;more on this in future posts).

And finally, when we consider Jesus straight up calls the temple “my house(v. 13 – “My house will be called a house of prayer…”), we find the a) confirmation of marketplace as an extension of sanctuary and b) value in declaring God’s original design over an establishment intended for our good.

In this case, Jesus calls the temple a “house of prayer” not only to reveal the truth of its purpose3 (i.e. a place of dwelling, influence, and vertical communication), but to set the stage for the spiritually/physically impaired to better know that purpose (v. 14).

I-Was-There-at-the-Temple-Image

Hence, it should be no surprise to see a completely transformed temple by the time Jesus peaces out in v. 17.

Bottom line: when we reflect on how Jesus integrated his ministry and spiritual gifts into the marketplace, we see…

  1. Jesus was intentional (in going to the temple courts)…
  2. Jesus was bold with the truth and how he handled conflict…
  3. Jesus lived out the identity he declared over the temple…
  4. Jesus loved at every opportunity…

Thus, I submit if we’re going to thrive in employing our spiritual gifts in our areas of business, we must be willing to live on purpose, be bold with the truth, pray without ceasing, be the change we long for…and most importantly…love at all cost, at all times.

Next time, I’ll look to build upon this foundation with more specifics, more real-life application, but for now, if any of this hits home with you (or if you want to add a point to the list above), feel free to comment below. And as always, if you have a prayer request/praise report, you’re more than welcome to drop us a line.

‘Til then, may you find peace and joy in abundance as you go about your week…

~ Cameron

Footnotes

  1. Sure, the church may be the heart of the operation, but what’s to say the marketplace can’t be the hands and feet?
  2. Seriously…how often are good leaders corrupted by sneaky, under-the-table, ‘will do anything to get an advantage’ maneuvers? More than we’d like to admit, right?
  3. As well as His authority

Photo creds: gospelmovements.org (edited by Cameron Fry) & lds.net

Integrating Ministry & Marketplace: 2 Big Lies about Spiritual Gifts

So lately I’ve been pondering the divide between vocational and marketplace ministry, specifically its relationship to spiritual gifts.

‘Cause I’ll be honest: I don’t get the chasm…the compartmentalization among these facets.

I mean…it’s not like the seven spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12) were ever meant to be exclusive to pastoral leaders or limited to “inside church use” only. Certainly the church would have the common sense to teach/preach the seven motivational gifts (the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit) as gifts designed for everyone to apply anywhere…right?

*Crickets*                                                                                                                                                *Crickets*

Oh snap, did I just stumble into a white elephant?

Eh, maybe I did. But still…this needs to be talked about. After all, if we desire to be the opposite of what Paul warned about in 1 Corinthians 12:1 (i.e. misinformed), it only makes sense to buckle up and dive into the issue.

But before we do, permit me to provide some context.

In my experience, the abuse of ‘spiritual gift teaching’ falls into two primary camps:

  1. The notion that spiritual gift development can only happen in the church.
  2. The notion that spiritual gift application can only happen in the church.

Granted, I know there are more categories, but for now, we’ll narrow our focus on these two criteria in hope to debunk some faulty doctrine.

Lie 1: Spiritual gift development can only happen in the church.

I’m not sure how this deception started, but no question, the legalistic undertones are evident considering it assumes a) life should be nothing more than the work of the ministry1, b) business matters are inherently evil because man is inherently evil, and c) the marketplace is a byproduct of the fall; however, when we look at Adam/Eve’s original design, we find the marketplace and the establishment of institutional order to be a byproduct of creation. After all, when God created man, He also created his role…and considered it good (Genesis 1:26-31)

Thus, it’s important to note how the garden was just as much marketplace as it was ministry…and why it’s dangerous to compare and contrast ministry and marketplace as segregated entities. ‘Cause truth is: we may experience spiritual gift activation in the church; however, this doesn’t mean development can’t happen outside it given God is a God of grace, has the loving power to ignite one’s heart anytime, anywhere, and intended pursuing love and earnestly desiring spiritual gifts to go hand in hand (1 Corinthians 14:1).

Bottom line: The reality of love and the truth of creation give credence to spiritual gift development happening anywhere, not just the church.

Lie 2: Spiritual gift application can only happen in the church.

Dare I say it…this one may be even more baffling than the first. Again, the church was meant to equip and mobilize, not centralize and maintain. So why anyone would think the church was designed to be an entertainment hub as opposed to a stewarding/dispersion center is beyond me, especially when you consider the purpose of church is to worship God through word and prayer, to love one another, partake of baptism and the Lord’s Supper…and oh, yeah…go therefore and make [disciple-makers] (Acts 2:42).

Yes, learning how to apply and mature our spiritual gifts in a koinonia (Greek for fellowship, sharing in common) setting is essential; however, if such demonstration is limited to “in-house”, can we honestly say the our faith is reaching where it needs to?

Bottom line: Spiritual gifts are meant to be shared as salt and light with the world, not stashed as inventory in the secret basements of what we call church. Thus, if what we believe reduces spiritual gifts to an iPhone and church as a charging port, I strongly encourage you: shift your paradigm…and dare to apply/extend what you experience in church to other places of influence.

Looking ahead to next month, expect a more intimate dig into what pastoral ministry in the marketplace looks like (with a more defined emphasis on how to rightfully use spiritual gifts in our areas of business)…with a subsequent series on what marketplace ministry looks like in the church later on.

For now, if any of this content resonates, feel free to comment below. And as always, if you have a prayer request/praise report, there’s a place for that on His Girl Fryday.

Blessings on your week,

~ Cameron

Footnotes

1) More specifically…”ministry as ministry”

Photo creds: Shutterstock (edited by Cameron Fry)ly