Monday, 6 August 2007

No Sacred-Secular Divide...Really? Part 2

In my previous post, I highlighted the rise in the interest of the "marketplace ministry" in both the church and Christian organisation.

In the recent NECF National Pastors-Leaders Consultation on Nation Building that I attended, I participated in the small group discussion on marketplace ministry. While there are many interesting and legitimate issues raised in the roundtable discussion, I am also very concerned to hear some of the comments that were being expressed. Maybe I am wrong here, and I stand corrected. I have a strong suspicion that underpinning the prevailing understanding of marketplace ministry is partially driven by one's understanding of success and perhaps to a certain extent, a hint of the prosperity gospel.

I could not help but to notice the frequent repetitions on the emphasis of success in business and that one needs to be in position of power and influence (read CEO, senior management or owner of business) to be used as God's agent for transformation. I could almost sense the frustration of a young professional in the roundtable when he raised the question on how as a member of junior management, he could live out his life as salt and light in his workplace. He raised the issue on how he could be an agent of transformation when he was only in junior management. He also asked who would be guiding him in his struggles and frustrations about issues confronting him in the marketplace.

Someone in the roundtable gave this young man this suggestion (and I paraphrase slightly): "Pray, brother, for God to give you a promotion to a higher position. I believe that if God has placed you there, it is for a purpose, so ask God for that promotion. Then you can be an agent for transformation."

An agent of transformation only when I am a position of power and influence? I agree that one could do more when one is in a position of power and influence. But does that mean I cannot be an agent of transformation when I am in a junior position?

I offered my comment in the roundtable discussion that much more serious theological reflection needs to be done in our understanding of marketplace ministry. I am not sure how well this is received and taken note of. Hopefully, there could be further discussion on some of these issues highlighted in the rountable.


pearlie said...

It shows that I have not been in the loop much - I have no idea what marketplace ministry is all about and what the issues are. Sometimes I feel that a lot of things are just repackaged and renamed, and there you are, we have a movement.

ionStorm said...

they really said that? omg...too much. no more support for NECF. no more! i'm going to boycott their event that's going to be held in our church. BOYCOTT! *mwahahah*

on a more serious note...i'm quite appalled la...they're abit narrow minded no? >_<

Alex Tang said...

I agree with your post about the understanding of marketplace ministries. They are more concerned about power and influence. I have attended discussion about marketplace ministries where the emphasis is more salt and light biblical. I wonder (dare I say it) if the understanding is the reflection of the organisation hosting the discussion.

Kar Yong said...


Well, NECF does not actually say that. It was one of delegates that say that.

Kar Yong said...


I personally like what scholars like R. Paul Stevens, Robert Banks and William Diehl are saying and doing.

However, the recent trend of marketplace ministry seems to shift its focus to emphasise on success, power and influence in business. This recent trend is my deepest concern as they are gaining popularity in the church and among Christian businessmen. It is as if the prosperity gospel is making a comeback (or has it ever left us?) in a different form of packaging....

Kar Yong said...


Thanks for the note and your thoughts.

ionStorm said...

can sumbahdee shoot that delegate. >_<