Something that I have been reflecting on more recently is the increasingly apparent move of God that is now, and will be, coming through the marketplace rather than only in the church. While this does not take away from the vital nature of the church, it does increase the value of the marketplace Christian – a value that truly was never absent, except in our own minds.
B4T and the Next Move of God
What I have been discerning recently, especially in the context of a Christian university where a booming business program has been radiating contemporary marketplace soul-winners, is that God is making a major move through the marketplace. I’ve heard many prophetic words spoken over business majors here at school, most of which having something to do with them winning souls in their line of work – something many of us would not expect. I was curious about this, but the more I reflected on it, the more I saw that it was simply confirming what several leaders around me had already realized: God is moving in the marketplace.
I recently read an article from a man named Stephen Owens, who wrote in 2008 about Biblical entrepreneurship being the next move of God. I was intrigued by this, and coupling it with some perspectives from Chris Patton and Erik Cooper, I continued to believe in this next move of God coming through the marketplace.
B4T, a business marked by God for transforming a community for the Gospel, is a way that the Lord can reach through Biblical entrepreneurs to reach the unsuspecting “secular” marketplace for His kingdom & glory. While God continues to work in & through global business entrepreneurs, He also wants us to recognize the value in our own lives & workplaces as well. This movement in B4T is not only for entrepreneurs or people that are called into the overseas missions field, but it’s also for those of us who hold “regular jobs” in our “regular lives” and need to see the value in what God is doing in our workplace and what He wants to do through us.
B4T becomes more than just an outlet for Christian leaders, but rather it can become something where each of us recognizes our inherent value in the workplace as someone that is influencing people for Christ. This is the premise of B4T and it is something we can all benefit from acknowledging in our lives.
What is the role of B4T then in this next move of God? It becomes the catalyst for our engagement with the secular world around us.
B4T: Transforming the Unsuspecting Marketplace
While B4T is most commonly an entrepreneurial venture concept, the heart of it is much more than that.
Something unique about utilizing B4T in the marketplace for the missio Dei is that people are often less suspicious of your intentions when you work alongside them. For example, if we wanted to bring someone to church for them to meet the love of God, they may have a stronger guard up. However, engaging those around you with the love of God and preaching the Gospel through actions is much less intimidating to those people that may not yet feel comfortable visiting a church.
Chris Patton writes,
“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.” (Read more here).
This marketplace relationship gives us as the hands & feet of Christ the unique angle we need to influence the “secular” world around us – we have a good report with these people, and trust is everything when we preach the Gospel. This is our “secret weapon” in B4T.
The Man with the Oreos
Recently, I chatted with a friend of mine from back home in Rochester. He had recently decided to pursue God at a deeper level after a few months of our conversations and check-ins, and as of our most recent chat, God has been doing a ton in his life.
What surprised me the most about our talk is that he had mentioned every weekend that he worked, he was now bringing Oreos for his coworkers. He said, “I didn’t want anyone to have a crappy weekend, so I bring Oreos for everyone and they all seem to really enjoy that.”
This friend often works 12-hour shifts with his coworkers on the weekend, and through this act of hospitality & kindness, he has interacted with more people, shown the love of God to the lost, and even received various thank you cards from his coworkers – all from simply giving from the heart of God. This is an act of marketplace ministry, and a sampling of the heart of B4T at work.
This friend has found an outreach in his workplace, an environment that is hostile to “religion”, and has done so by utilizing simple (and even thoughtless) tactics to influence secular coworkers for the Gospel. That’s B4T!
Closing the Gap
I think we often have a way of compartmentalizing our Christianity. We have a natural, secular tendency to separate our holiness from our handiwork. I don’t think that’s God’s order, I think that’s humanity’s preference.
Man separated church and state, man separated work from Gospel, and man separated God from himself. I’m not advocating for church & state to be reunited, I am simply highlighting our tendency to separate, compartmentalize, and convince ourselves of our individualistic needs being priority in our lives, especially in the West.
B4T takes a stance against that by putting the Gospel back into the workplace. God’s original order in Genesis 2:15 was not to separate work from His presence, but to bring His presence into the workplace and allow us to work as an act of worship.
When we utilize our God-given gifts & potential to work as a B4T believer, we are inserting the presence of God into a place where sinful man has removed it – the marketplace. We can bring radical, transformative love & light into a centuries-long-deemed “secular” space and therefore establish the rule & reign of Christ’s kingdom in the space where God is working.
This opportunity gives us a unique edge in joining with God in what He’s already doing. When we find our story in the context of His greater story, we are able to understand our everyday work in light of the Gospel. This understanding enables us to use our specific God-given placement to influence others for God’s kingdom & glory.
We work with God, through Christ, by the Spirit, and in the world. B4T is one incredible way to do that.
To answer, “Why is B4T important”, we must understand that we are working with God to save souls in a realm of our world that may otherwise never be reached. This secular marketplace is ripe for the harvest, and we must pray for more laborers!
To find out more about where your job fits in God’s greater plan, read Erik Cooper’s new book Missional Marketplace.