(Image via Wikipedia)
Europe is full of huge empty cathedrals and most people there think of Christianity as something from the past.
In strategizing over how to take Jesus back into that continent, Global Advance is trying to advance the faith through Marketplace ministry hoping to make the church relevant to young Europeans.
Here’s an article about their efforts in Germany:
According to Jonathan Shibley, president of Global Advance:
“We really felt like it was a sovereign time for the Lord to pull together people during an economic crisis, because that’s where our faith comes out and shines.”
“Three years ago, we were challenged at Global Advance to begin to look at Europe much like we would other developing countries: as an underserved region of the world, and almost an unreached region of the world to some extent.”
“People are hungry spiritually, but they don’t know what they’re hungry for. So the gospel’s got to be demonstrated in a fresh way. So many people associate religion with empty cathedrals. They haven’t made the connect with their faith and the relevance to their personal lives. Somehow the church has got to become relevant again.”
In talking about the recent conference Shibley concluded
“It was just a wonderful time to bring a wide variety of people from different denominations, different backgrounds, and also different industries together under one common cause—and that’s to see Christ lifted up through the workplace in Europe.”
Response: I believe that marketplace ministry is also part of God’s heart for transforming America and particularly the American church. For too long American Christians have lived separate lives dividing the sacred from the secular and profane.
Most of us Christians spend a majority of our lives in the marketplace, in schools, jobs, or in businesses. Yet we mostly keep the most important things of our lives separate from that experience, our families and our faith. For too long, American Christians have separated their working lives from their faith, viewing work as a necessary evil to pay the bills. Not really the ‘spiritual’ part of our lives but the secular.
You can see where this has gotten us when well known church-going evangelical business leaders end up in jail over corrupt business practices. One famous energy company in Texas comes to mind as an example. The CEO was a deacon in his church and now he’s in prison.
It wasn’t always that way in America nor was it that way in Europe. The protestant work ethic transformed the West. All thing were done as unto Christ. But it was in America that religion and business would go hand in hand to build up a new nation that would lead the world for an entire century. However, somewhere in the last 50 years or so, Christianity became something that primarily happened just in a church for one hour on Sunday or two if your Pentecostal or Charismatic.
Again, it wasn’t always that way. One of the greatest revivals in America happened in businesses in New York City in the 19th century just before the civil war. Over 50,000 businessmen were converted to Christ and they transformed the entire American economy for the next 50 years until America became a leading world economic power.
It is time once more for American Christians to put it all together and live our entire lives under the banner of Christ including the marketplaces where we spend most of our time and efforts. I believe that the marketplace is the key to the next major revival that will transform the American church and change it into a relevant and dynamic witness to a secular American culture which has abandoned God and the very foundation it was originally built upon.