All posts tagged “marketplace

comment 0

Repaso: February 22, 2013

Speakers_MAIN_Home_JohnPerkins

1. Community development for the 21st century
Chris Smith, the editor of Englewood Review of Books, wrote a great piece for Christianity Today on how Christian community development is changing:

For the past three years, I’ve managed the bookstore at the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) annual conference. Each year I see old friends and make new ones, all the while putting new books into the hands of conference participants. It’s a place where I can observe which voices are shaping ideas about what Christian community development is and how it should be practiced in neighborhoods. Authors like founder John Perkins, Bob Lupton, Amy Sherman, and Wayne Gordon represent the longstanding tradition of CCDA. However, I have noticed over the past few years a growing interest in food, ecology, and Native American communities—topics not always considered part of Christian community development. Books by the late Richard Twiss (a Native American and a popular speaker at the last two conferences) and Wendell Berry, for instance, were among the top sellers at last fall’s gathering. I wondered: Did the book-buying habits of conference participants suggest that the vision behind Christian community development is changing?

2. Marketplace pastoring
Lukas Naugle on what pastors should teach those called to the marketplace:

The marketplace, the everyday world of trade and economic activity, is where most people spend the majority of their days. In modern history, the marketplace has played an unparalleled role in shaping our world. Globalization has turned countless local markets into one massive global market. Advances in technology and communication have managed to bridge enormous geographical and cultural gaps with blinding speed. Meanwhile, the language and norms of the marketplace have changed the way other social institutions, including the church, think and operate. Even family life has been shaped by the marketplace in seemingly indelible ways… So what should pastors teach to those called to the marketplace?

3. Are missionaries the henchmen of empire?
You may recall my thoughts last November on The Poisonwood Bible and the question of whether missionaries destroy cultures. If so, this piece by Robert Joustra may be of interest:

It’s long been accepted that missionaries are the ideological henchman of empire—maybe not by the missionaries themselves, but by much of the public. Just last week the Globe splashed the Christian ministry Crossroads across its front page for its lifestyle beliefs, arguing its religious content contradicted Canadian values and so invalidated its work digging wells in Christian Uganda. It’s a bad brand for folks that are generally sincere in their good intentions, and—further—that do so much actual good (even) in the name of religion. Whether religion invalidates development work today, or whether religious content and savvy religious literacy may actually be essential in a religious world, is another matter. But what about this easy history of missionaries as cultural imperialists? Is this a fair story?

4. Afghan youth on the future
WhyDev has started a fascinating series featuring guest posts by university students in Afghanistan, offering their views on “a range of topics from social media to security and education to aid effectiveness in Afghanistan.” The first two posts are deeply personal and painfully honest, and that’s why they’re important.

5. Northern Lights in Iceland

Dramatic Aurora Borealis. Iceland – Time-Lapse of a Winter Fairytale from Anna Possberg on Vimeo.

Repaso is intended as a thought-provoking compilation of news and commentary related to the intersections of faith, development, justice, and peace. As always, I welcome your thoughts on any of the links and ideas in this roundup!

[Photo credit: John M. Perkins via thejusticeconference.com]

comment 0

Faithful presence in the marketplace

My profile of entrepreneur Aaron Klusman was published today by Christianity Today as part of the This Is Our City project, which chose Phoenix as one of several cities to highlight. I enjoyed getting to know Aaron while researching the story and interviewing him, and I’m encouraged by what he and others are doing through entrepreneurial ventures to create jobs and to seek the flourishing of Phoenix.

Here’s an excerpt:

Klusman works hard to turn a profit, as success in business requires, but the dividends extend beyond his investors. As he sees it, thriving businesses are instrumental to the flourishing of any vibrant city, and Phoenix is no exception. “If you’re going to talk about the well being of the city, the reality is that you have to understand economics,” he says. “A city flourishes as its economic engine thrives.” …

The belief that the work of our hands is a way of honoring God has become foundational to Klusman’s theology of work. “There’s intrinsic value in making a table,” he says. “You can take joy in that each day. You don’t need to slap a Bible verse on the leg of the table for it to be stamped with the approval of God.”

You can read the full story here. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

comments 2

Chris Wright on missional distinctiveness in the public square

Earlier this year I heard Christopher J.H. Wright speak here in Phoenix about “saints in the marketplace” — what it means to be a Christian whose work does not take place inside a Christian bubble.

I’ve been reading Wright’s excellent book The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission (Zondervan), which includes a chapter on mission in the public square, on which (I assume) his talk was based. For those unacquainted with the term public square, a synonym might be marketplace, though what Wright has in mind is broad: “the whole world of human cooperative effort in productive projects and creative activity.” He writes:

If society becomes more corrupt and dark, it’s no use blaming society. That’s what fallen human nature does, left unchecked and unchallenged. The question to ask is, Where are the Christians? Where are the saints who will actually live as saints — God’s different people, God’s counterculture — in the public square? Where are those who see their mission as God’s people to live and work and witness in the marketplace, and pay the cost of doing so?

Moral integrity is essential to Christian distinctiveness, which in turn is essential to Christian mission in the public arena. Integrity means that there is no dichotomy between our private and public “face”; between the sacred and the secular in our lives; between the person I am at work and the person I am in church; between what we say and what we do; between what we claim to believe and what we actually practice. This is a major challenge to all believers who live and work in the non-Christian world, and it raises endless ethical dilemmas and often wrenching difficulties of conscience. It is indeed a battlefield — internally and externally. But it is a struggle that cannot be avoided if we are to function with any effectiveness at all as salt and light in society.

He goes on to say that to do our work with missional distinctiveness, we must remember the story in which we are living, a story in which all of creation — the public square included — has been tainted by the fall, and yet is being redeemed by God even now.

Learning to discern the public square’s fallenness and learning to resist its temptations is crucial, he says, and it will not be easy, but it’s what we’re called to do as the people of God. And we can be assured that as we seek to participate in God’s mission in the public square, he will be faithful to us.

comment 1

Chris Wright on faith in the marketplace

Last week, Dr. Chris Wright was in town for a couple of events, one of which was a gathering put together by the Surge Network, where he spoke on the topic, “Saints in the Marketplace: The Mission of God in the Public Arena.” Wright is the international director of Langham Partnership, an organization started by the late John Stott, which serves churches and pastors all over the world.

In his talk he began by defining “marketplace” in broad terms, suggesting that it basically means all that happens in society. It could also simply be called the public square, or, to use Old Testament language, “the gate.” His fundamental premise, which he made clear from the start, is that God is interested in what happens in the marketplace. This seems obvious, but too many Christians seem to live with a suspicion that the things we need to spend most of our time doing are things that don’t really matter to God. That belief is dead wrong.

He gave his talk in three sections, at least according to my notes. First, he spoke on why the marketplace matters to God. Second, how Christians are called to act in the marketplace. And third, the church’s dual task in relationship to it. Since it was all such wonderful stuff, I thought I’d more or less reproduce the talk here, to the best of my memory, with little commentary by me. I’ve included Scripture references (a lot of them), and when possible, great questions Wright left with us on the basis of these principles.

THE MARKETPLACE MATTERS TO GOD

1. God created work (Genesis 1, 2). The Fall corrupted it, but it’s still something God made good. We need to understand that work is not some necessary evil; rather, it’s a means of glorifying God. For the pastors and teachers among us, do we teach the importance of work the way the Bible does?

2. God audits it (Psalm 33:13-15; Amos 5:12-15, 8:4-7; Jeremiah 7:9-11; I Samuel 12:1-5). God is the auditor of the marketplace, at both a personal and a corporate level. According to Scripture, God requires justice in the public square just as much as he requires worship in the Temple (or, in our case, the church). He hears what’s said and sees what’s done in the marketplace, and he even examines the attitudes in our hearts. He is the independent scrutineer of all that happens in the marketplace. How and when do you submit to God’s audit of your daily work? How does accountability to God affect the way you work?

3. God governs it (Joseph in Genesis 50:19-20; Isaiah 19:1-15; Daniel 4). We tend to speak of the marketplace as if it is autonomous, but the truth is that events are the product of human actions, and we’re therefore responsible for what we do. But God is sovereign, and his sovereignty doesn’t stop short of the marketplace. How and where do you discern the governance of God in the marketplace? What does it mean to “seek first the kingdom and his justice” Monday through Friday?

4. God redeems it (Isaiah 65:17-25; Colossians 1:16-20; Romans 8:19-21; II Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:24-27). Our eschatology and our understanding of the story of the Bible affect how we view the marketplace. If we believe everything in the world is all going to be zapped someday, why would we care what happens in the marketplace? The truth is that God loves everything he’s made; it’s all twisted and we’re all twisted, but the Bible teaches that God will redeem creation, not obliterate it. God will create a new heaven and a new earth. All things are created by Christ, sustained by Christ, and redeemed by Christ. Because of the resurrection of Christ, all we do under the sun is not vanity! We don’t know precisely how everything will turn out, but we believe in the resurrection. How is our daily work transformed by the knowledge that it contributes to the new creation, redeemed by God?

WE’RE CALLED TO ENGAGEMENT AND DISTINCTIVENESS

1. Engagement. This can happen through serving the state (i.e., Joseph & Daniel); through prayer and “seeking the welfare of the city” – not just Jerusalem, but Babylon too (Jeremiah 29:7; I Timothy 2:1-4; Erastus in Acts 19:22; Romans 16:23); through ordinary, honest daily work – it’s instructive to look up the number of times in the New Testament Paul refers to doing good (I Thessalonians 4:11-12, 5:14; II Thessalonians 3:6-13); through encouraging fellow Christians in the true value of the marketplace.

2. Distinctiveness. We’re called to be saints who are holy, different, salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16; Daniel 6:3; I Chronicles 29:17; Genesis 18:19; Colossians 3:22-23). If Christians are to be salt and light, the assumption is that there are dull and dark places in the world, and we’re to actually change things in those places – like salt, we get rubbed into the meat; like light, we break the darkness. Whatever we do, we are to do it as unto the Lord – in other words, as if the other person is Christ himself. Worldview distinctiveness – we live by a different story (biblical narrative rather than British imperialism or the American Dream, for example). When we follow Christ, we enter the biblical story, and we’re to build that story into our lives. As we do so, it’ll challenge ourselves and others – it cuts through all peoples and cultures.

THE CHURCH’S PROPHETIC AND PASTORAL TASK

1. The prophetic task. Pastors and Christian leaders must speak out in the midst of a synchetized and idolatrous culture with a voice of evaluation and critique. It requires, at times, speaking truth to power. We can’t just bless everything society does, or bless church members who willingly go along with corruptions of God’s good design for the marketplace. The prophetic task can be costly, a rough road to travel, as all the biblical prophets knew.

2. The pastoral task. Pastors and Christian leaders must support those who work in the marketplace, meaning those who participate in all spheres of society every week. God didn’t create the church to support the clergy; rather, the pastor comes every Sunday to support the church as it then goes out into the world to be salt and light in the marketplace, knowing that their work matters to God.

As you can tell, he gave us plenty to chew on. If we were to summarize his main points, though, we could say this: The marketplace matters to God. It can go terribly wrong, but work was created by God, is audited and governed by him, and will ultimately be redeemed by him. Christians are called to engage in the marketplace with distinctiveness. And, finally, the church is to challenge distortions in the marketplace as well as to equip its members to help it flourish as it should.

If you’d like to see and hear Dr. Wright for yourself, here he is in the five-minute video speaking on the importance of confronting idols and making disciples – which in fact has everything to do with faithfulness in the marketplace (thanks to Jake Belder for sharing it).

Confronting Idols & Making Disciples from Medri Kinnon Productions on Vimeo.

What are your reactions to this basis for Christian engagement in the marketplace? How does it challenge your understanding of the relationship between faith and work?

comment 1

Repaso: The future of aid; US military in Latin America; GOP & Hispanics; 100 best employers; faith-work issues; and Accord Network videos

1. The future of aid
Reuters AlertNet has a really cool multimedia feature running right now with stories, videos, polls, infographics and more exploring the future of humanitarian aid. I could spend hours exploring everything there.

2. New US military bases in Latin America
The Just the Facts blog (focused on Latin America and US foreign policy toward the region) has a Google Map showing all the new military bases the US built in Latin America in 2009-10, paid for with money from the counternarcotics budget. Seeking to curb the drug trade may be necessary, but given the region’s history (and US military involvement behind the scenes and otherwise), this is something worth keeping an eye on.

3. The GOP and the Hispanic vote
Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida and current brother of W, has an op-ed in the Washington Post, encouraging Republicans to consider how they might earn the Hispanic vote – something none of the GOP front-runners seem particularly interested in doing:

[W]e need to think of immigration reform as an economic issue, not just a border security issue. Numerous polls show that Hispanics agree with Republicans on the necessity of a secure border and enforceable and fair immigration laws to reduce illegal immigration and strengthen legal immigration. Hispanics recognize that Democrats have failed to deliver on immigration reform, having chosen to spend their political capital on other priorities. Republicans should reengage on this issue and reframe it.

4. 100 best companies to work for
Yesterday I went to hear Christopher J.H. Wright speak on the topic of “Saints in the Marketplace.” In a nutshell, he emphasized the fact that God created work, that he audits it, governs it, and redeems it. I’ll post full thoughts on the talk next week, but in the meantime, here are some great examples from Fortune of businesses that create great places to work. When thinking Christianly about business, this certainly isn’t the only indicator to look at, but it’s one worth highlighting and affirming for sure.

5. Faith-work distortions and possibilities
Lukas Naugle, who I recently met over a cup of coffee here in Phoenix to discuss business and the common good, has an essay in Comment about the integration of faith and business, and some of the common pitfalls of those trying to connect the two. It’s a great read, and a hugely important topic, specifically taking a look at two books on the subject.

[I]t can be tricky for an average businessperson to figure out how he or she should do business for the glory of God and the common good. Folks who run into this problem exist in many places—I have met them over coffee, investment pitches, and at conferences. Of course, there are some very positive stories and examples out there, but those who haven’t gained a full-orbed view of the integration of faith and business are still the majority, and they come in various shapes and sizes. Here are some of the faith-work Frankenstein’s monsters I’ve met.

6. Accord Network’s forum videos now online
The Accord Network, serving Christian groups working in the fields of relief and development, has posted videos from a number of the presentations at its Developing Excellence Forum, held last November in Baltimore. Main session speakers include Scott Todd (Compassion International, 58: Campaign), Peter Greer (HOPE International), and Tony Hall (former US ambassador). Additionally, videos from the Transformational Development Summit, sponsored by my friends at Eastern University, include Bryant Myers (Fuller Seminary, World Vision International), Stephan Baumann (World Relief), and others. It’s a wealth of good stuff.

Repaso is intended as a thought-provoking compilation of news and commentary from the past week related to the intersections of faith, development, justice and peace. As always, I welcome your thoughts on any of the links and ideas in this roundup!

[Photo credit: cnrc.navy.mil]