Everywhere I hear the quiet desperation of faithful church-goers: why don’t many people want to come to church?
People are so busy with sports and family events and work that church isn’t a priority. Church is where you go if there’s nothing better to do.
I’m sad about this, but not devastated. This is why: God is not bound by a system, even an excellent one. It’s no secret that the formal church is giving way to informal clusters of believers in unlikely places. And in the last year, my eyes have been opened to a field of opportunity that I have never really seen before–the marketplace.
People might not want to go to church, and they might be too shy to sit at my table. But everyone has to either go to work or receive services from some kind of work. For many, life is centered on what happens from Monday through Friday, whether they are paying or being paid. Everyone shows up in the marketplace because they depend on it for survival.
With no obvious religious agenda to turn people off, the marketplace gives the Gospel a chance to surprise people with its goodness. The carpenter who sings while he hangs sheetrock, the piano teacher who shows kindness to a bullied child, the doctor who prays for a scared patient, the computer programmer who goes the second mile to accommodate an unhappy customer…all of these people, and more like them, spread the gold of the Gospel in the ordinary business of trading goods and services.
This doesn’t mean that Christians ought to be unprofessional or try to push a religious agenda, or that they should stop going to church gatherings. The Gospel is gentle. Bringing the Gospel to the marketplace simply means that the harsh world of economics is softened by God’s people asking for His presence, listening to His voice, and noticing and touching what is deep inside of others–whether it’s a lawyer or a housecleaner or a person receiving food stamps.
Will and I have been surprised by the beauty of God showing up in the business world. In the past few years, through our jobs we’ve heard the questions and fears of people who are afraid of God and church. We’ve had communion in the workplace. We’ve had many impromptu prayer meetings. God is delightfully creative in His pursuit, and He is not limited to those who are willing to set foot in a church.
Come back tomorrow for a true story about God revealing Himself to someone through a Dollar General store.
And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
Mark 4:30-32 (ESV)