In my previous post, I hinted that perhaps underpinning the common understanding of marketplace ministry today is a variation of the prosperity gospel. Of course, having said that, I must also qualify that there are genuine proponents of the marketplace ministry like R. Paul Stevens, Robert Banks and William Diehl, who are biblically and theologically sound (surprisingly and curiously, I did not hear their names being mentioned, at least in the rountable discussion that I mentioned in my earlier post. Perhaps I am wrong here).
One does not need to go too far to have a taste of how far one can push the boundaries in the name of marketplace ministry and being salt and light in the marketplace. The recent dance video release by Sun Ho, former pastor of City Harvest Church in Singapore, has caused quite a fair bit of stir, as honestly assessed by Blogpastor in his post. The dance video is available in YouTube and the link is available in Alex Tang's blog.
Far too frequently, we often cite examples of success (read monetary success) as positive influence of Christians in the marketplace and as an indication of God's approval, blessings and anointing. Even in the recent NECF National Pastors-Leaders Consultation on Nation Building, the success of biblical examples of Joseph and Daniel is given prominence as examples that believers in the marketplace should emulate.
There is no denying that Joseph and Daniel are excellent biblical examples of positive influence in the marketplace. But my uneasiness in these oft quoted examples is the fact that the success side of the story has been given far too much emphasis. There is hardly any mention of the failures (as seen in the eyes of many) in the lives of these characters. There is no mention of the long process of character building and moulding that took place in the experience of being rejected by family, in betrayal, in prison, in sufferings, in the severe testing of one's faith as characterised in the lives of Joseph and Daniel. How many Christians in the marketplace would want to pay the price Joseph paid before becoming "successful'? How many would want their faith to be tested in the lion's den?
To be continued...my personal encounter and exposure to the marketplace ministry that shapes my present understanding.