“While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, his spirit was troubled within him when he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with those who worshiped God and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there.” – Acts 17:16-17 (HCSB)
One of the most important and yet neglected realities of how the Christian faith is shared and advanced is through marketplace.
In the Scripture above, Paul and his team shared Jesus in the Marketplace every day. Most often when we think of a preacher speaking, we see them in their pulpit. Not so in the New Testament. It seems from this Scripture and the ministry of Jesus that more ministry was done outside of the church than inside.
I believe the marketplace remains the primary place of ministry that God has chosen to bring forth the gospel.
Remarkably, 39 out of 40 of the miracles recorded in the book of Acts were in the Marketplace.
Many of the gospel messages in the book of Acts were from those who were not recognized ministers or apostles. Entire cities were opened up through their lives and messages (Acts 8, etc).
In the New Testament there really wasn’t a differentiation of the so called, “experts” and the rest of the Christians. All of us are disciples of Jesus yet with different callings.
A common reality of our calling is to live out and spread our faith in the public.
Here are just a few examples of God’s work in the marketplace today:
- A hotel in the Philippines was running a prostitution ring involving over 4,000 people. It was acquired by a Christian businessman who hired 40 “lay-ministers” to do prayer evangelism in his building. The results were astonishing as nearly all of the people involved in the hotel turned to Christ within 2 years.
- A bank in Minnesota started regularly praying for customers and saw 54 miracles occur and more than 60 people received Jesus during business hours.
- A voice actor in NYC began utilizing his down time while acting to build relationships and share the gospel. As a result, he has found it easy to share his faith daily due to the relational and social collateral he has garnered.
None of the people in these stories were “Super-Christians” or “mega-pastors.” They were ordinary people who were defined by a few specific traits. These were all people who placed a desire to love others above everything else in their businesses. For example, the praying bank refused to call collection agencies on those who could not make their payments. Instead, they prayed for those who were in financial trouble. As a result of their love and character, people saw Jesus in them and had a real encounter with the Lord.
The people in these stories did express that in the beginning they were not comfortable with sharing their faith, but through loving people, the Gospel was shared naturally in their conversations. As a result of their care for other people, many others began to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
In light of what God is doing now, we shouldn’t be surprised to hear that thirty-nine of the forty miracles in the book of Acts happened in the marketplace. That’s one of the places where God wills that His glory should be revealed.
Christians don’t have to “check Jesus at the door” before walking into work. Sometimes it’s a matter of timing, but no doubt they’re watching to see if you’re authentic, and it’s only a matter of time before they see Christ in you.
Post 9/11, my wife Lynette was able to share the peace of God with others. Several of her colleagues had been traumatized having witnessed people jumping from the windows of the World Trade Center. Some observed that she was the only one in her office that had a Bible on her office bookshelf. They asked her a lot of questions and she was able to minister to them and some turned to Christ for salvation. Some are now remarkable ministers of the gospel in the marketplace.
I encourage you to take your first step toward inviting God into your workplace. Begin praying for those you work with. Watch God move in the little ways and continue to, “let your light shine before men … that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).