Why Marketplace Skills ARE Missionary Skills | The Stone Table

by | Oct 3, 2023 | Faith and Work, Missions, Resources, Videos

Here’s what I mean when I say, “marketplace skills are missionary skills.”

I recently had a friend tell me that a phrase I use all the time may not be as clear to other people as I thought it was. “Marketplace skills are missionary skills.” Uh, this is a phrase that I love to throw around. We use it all the time here. You may have actually heard it in the bumper on the front end of this video. I love to say that marketplace skills are missionary skills, but I had a colleague, a coworker, actually say to me the other day, “You know, I hear you say that all the time. I know what you mean, but,” he said, “I probably am guessing that a whole lot of people don’t know what that phrase means and why you love to say it.” So I thought I would share a little bit of what I mean when I say, “Marketplace skills are missionary skills,” and I’ll do it through, I guess, two quick stories.

One is about six months ago. I was asked to go speak at Indiana Wesleyan University to a group of business students. It was actually a group of graduating marketing students. They were less than 30 days away from walking the line and getting their diplomas, and I was there to really share with them and challenge them in this whole arena of the marketplace and God’s mission and work in the world. And it hit me as I was sitting there talking to these 35 students how desperately we need the skill sets that they are learning and utilizing and getting their degrees and certificates in on the mission field, not just in the marketplace here stateside, but we need them on the mission field. Because business is being utilized all over the world as a hub, as a point of church planting and gospel proclamation, especially in areas of the world that are difficult to get to, that are unreached with the gospel. And so, you know, we have travel and tourism companies and CrossFit gyms and business English schools and agriculture farms that need business skill sets. They need people who have business backgrounds and business degrees to engage on the mission field. So that’s one of the ways that I would say marketplace skills are missionary skills. Very literally, we need those skill sets in church planting efforts around the world as we seek to take the gospel to every nation, tribe, and tongue.

But something else, maybe a little different angle on that, has come to my attention in the last few months as well. I’ve had two entrepreneurs, two business owners, come up to me in passing conversations and say, “Hey, we are seeking to utilize the CRF 50% model with our business.” What does that mean? Well, our company, The Stone Table, is actually connected to a real estate company called CRF Affordable Housing. And that housing company was started 30 years ago with a 50% give model. In essence, we started the company for the specific purpose of giving at a minimum half of our profits away to global missions work around the world. And so it was so cool for me to see that mindset multiply, not just the funds, but the mindset multiply, and to see two other entrepreneurs say, “Hey, we’re starting businesses with that same mentality in mind, that we’re going to give half of what we make, we’re going to give to Great Commission work, to global missions work all over the world.” Those are just two examples of what I mean when I say marketplace skills are missionary skills.

And, you know, some people think this whole idea of the marketplace and missions is new, like, you know, business’s mission. It’s kind of this hip, trendy thing that’s being thrown around a lot today. But I want to draw your attention to a historical and biblical fact. If you look, really, this whole concept of the marketplace and its role in God’s kingdom and God’s mission, Great Commission mission in the world, it really goes back 2,000 years. Because we know Paul, we know Barnabas, we know Silas, we know all of the missionaries from the Book of Acts that were part of the explosion of the early church after Pentecost. But there’s a great book called “The History of Christianity,” Volume One, and Volume Two. But Volume One, the author actually talks about how the early church was spread, in great part, due to the impact of merchants, Christian merchants and business people who would travel from town to town across the region. They would spread out doing business in the marketplace, and they would take the gospel with them. They would take the proclamation in the name of Jesus with them wherever they went. And so, merchants and business have always really been a key part of church planting efforts, all the way back to the beginning of the church age in the first century.

Also, a great verse that I love is in Acts 17. It talks about how Paul would reason with the Jews in the synagogue and in the marketplace with the people who happened to be there, you know, doing business, exchanging their wares. The gospel has always been meant to exist in both of these places, in both of these capacities. So this is what I mean when I say, “Marketplace skills are missionary skills.” We need marketplace people to begin to see themselves as part of God’s kingdom work in the world. You know, the Lausanne Covenant from back in the 1970s was an incredible work outlining the really the heart for global missions. It was kind of a treatise, a cross-denominational treatise of global missions. And I love there’s a famous phrase from the Lausanne Covenant that says, “We need the whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole world.” And the whole church includes not just pastors, not just professional missionaries, it includes marketplace people. And all of us need to understand we are part of the whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole world. Marketplace skills are missionary skills.

I believe the future of global missions is both in our Bible colleges and our Bible schools, and it’s in our business schools, because marketplace skills are missionary skills. And so my question to all of you today, if you’re part of the church, if you’re part of the whole church, what are you doing to help get the whole gospel to the whole world? Marketplace skills are missionary skills. You are called, I am called, we are all called to see every nation, tribe, and tongue come to know the glorious name of Jesus. Hey, thanks for watching. If you like this video, maybe give us a like, a comment, share it with some friends. If you’re interested in more resources from The Stone Table, you can find those at thestonetable.org.

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