I have been a believer for a decade and have seen much within that (short/long) time frame. One of the issues I am concerned about is the issue of the viewing of Church as a ‘Marketplace’.
Made popular by Christian ministers in recent years, more pastors are preaching sermons about the 7 Mountains of Influence/Culture. These include the realm of business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, the family and religion. In order for the Gospel to effectively reach the Lost, Christians must ascend to the top of the different Mountains of Influence and create change from above.
One area that has been in the focus is the area of business or the ‘Marketplace’. The ‘Marketplace’ is a buzzword that has been around for quite a while and is defined as an ‘arena of competitive or commercial dealings’ according to Google. Christians are reminded to not just make a living, but to make a difference and be effective salt and light in the marketplace. While I fully agree and subscribe to the notion of bringing Christ to culture especially in the corporate world, I have major concerns about turning the Church itself into a place of commerce, or the marketplace.
Before I proceed any further, I must clarify that I do not write this post with the intention of singling anyone out, much less to criticize them. This is my thought process.
In my 10 years of attending and serving at my local Church, I have been approached by brethren to purchase insurance, savings plan, and most recently to buy into a MLM program. While I do not have the financial capability yet, there are possibly ‘property brethren’ waiting to approach me when I do so. This can be applied to the F&B outlet, clothing, car dealership, and the list goes on.
While I get it that I am your warm contact, I am your brethren and I should support you yada yada, I would appreciate that you do not see me as a dollar sign. The thing is, I understand that you probably have policies, products, service and programs that can benefit me, I would hope to actually have a relationship with you (first).
And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”
I had non-believers telling me, “You will be successful as a insurance/property agent since there’s so many people (friends) in your church you can approach.”
If we turn the Church into a place of commerce, how different are we then from the world? How do we show the better Way if we respond and conduct ourselves just as how everyone else does? A salt that is ineffective is good for nothing and thrown out (Matthew 5:13). Build the relationship (first). Think about it, if you enjoy someone’s presence and you know that they have a good product/service, would you not approach them to get the policies on your own accord?
We want to support you! Just don’t force-feed us with your products or services!
Let’s keep Church as Church. Let’s keep Church as a place of worship. Let’s keep Church as a place of communion and fellowship. Most importantly, let’s keep Church as a place to meet God.