Where is your “marketplace”?

“So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present.”

Acts 17:17

How can God use me?  What am I supposed to be doing?  Where do I serve in the church?

Have you ever asked yourself these questions?  Often when we get involved in church, we struggle with not being sure where exactly we fit in.  We see people public speaking, but that makes us nervous.  We see people singing & playing instruments, but only a few think they are talented enough for that.  Sure there is giving, helping set up, and being on committees, but we want to be doing ministry even beyond these things!!!  So what do we do?

Take a moment to consider this:  What if your calling is not in the church?  What if your calling is to serve the church in the marketplace?

We see in the passage that heads this post that Paul’s ministry consisted of two components.  First, he would speak in the synagogue and then he would go to marketplace and talk with people there.  Let us take a moment to consider if God is possibly sending you to a marketplace of your own!!

  1. Why the marketplace?

Because that’s where the people are!!!  Many years ago a reporter interviewed a notorious bank robber named Willie Sutton.  During the interview, the reporter asked why Sutton robbed banks.  His reply, “Because that’s where the money is.”

Why did Paul go to the marketplace?  Why should we seek out our marketplace?  BECAUSE THAT IS WHERE THE PEOPLE ARE!!!!  More specifically, that is where the lost are.

We have to acknowledge the truth that not many lost people randomly walk into churches on Sunday.  If we want to reach the lost, we will have to go to them.  Jesus makes it pretty clear, “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt 28:19)

We have got to get out of the mindset that ministry only happens within the walls of the church.  Scripture shows us the opposite was more true.  Paul had some success in the synagogues, but it was on the block and in the marketplace that people were being saved.

  1. How does it work?

Okay, so maybe you are on board with going to the marketplace; now what?

Where do I go?  If we are going to go the marketplace, we have to know where it is!!!  You may think this is going to be some crazy place that you have never been before, but that actually is not the case.  Your marketplace is where you already are.  It is your work.  It is the restaurants you frequent.  It is the organizations (outside the church) you support.  It is your child’s sporting events.  It is the grocery store.  Your marketplace is all the places you already are.  You do not have to go looking for someplace new; you just have to open your eyes and see the lost people who are already all around you!!1

What do I do?  We always make this more complicated than we need.  You share Christ.  First, you share Christ by your actions.  You give others priority over yourself (Rom 12:10).  This may mean a simple smile, a quick apology, or a caring gesture.  Show the people around you that you are not only interested in yourself, but you have a genuine concern for them.  Then, you have to actually tell them about Jesus!!!  Look at the words Luke uses to describe Paul’s actions in Acts 17:17-18.  He “reasoned” in the synagogue.  Later, he “conversed” with the philosophers.  Finally, he “preached” Jesus and the resurrection.  Paul’s ministry was not done from behind a pulpit but on the street, giving and taking in conversation.  He listened.  He responded.  He spoke into people’s lives.  He pointed them to the Messiah.  You can do all of those things too.

  1. Why does it matter?

At the very end of the chapter, Luke writes this, “But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.” (v. 34) This is why we have to go to the marketplace!!!  There are people right here in Hardin County that have never heard the Gospel and they probably will never voluntarily darken the door of a church building.

Think about it this way:  Would you ever just walk into the local mosque?  Or the synagogue?  Or even attend a Catholic mass?  Why not?  Probably because it would be intimidating!!!  You don’t know their customs or expectations.  You might be afraid that you would accidentally offend someone.  Or you just don’t believe that they would have anything to offer you at their services.  THAT IS HOW THE LOST SEE US!!!!

IF we have been called to make disciples of all nations, and IF the nations are not going to just magically waltz through our doors, THEN WE HAVE TO GO TO THEM!!!!

I know this may feel horribly uncomfortable.  Sharing Jesus without the pastor nearby may feel like walking a tightrope without a net, but you can do it.  You have to do it.  There is no plan B.

We are his messengers, his witnesses, his ambassadors.  We have been commissioned to do this.
Let’s go!