Robert Fraser’s book Marketplace Christianity is one that addresses an important topic within churches and church building. It addresses the way in which professional Christians have often been neglected by churches and church leaders. These are people who work long weeks and are necessarily less engaged in the church. Rather than being taught how to mix their spiritual gifts with their vocational abilities to lead fulfilled lives, these people are often made to feel like they are less in the church.
The author begins, it seems, by framing the overall problem in terms of its importance. Why should it matter what this one sub-section of the church is all about? For one, he argues, this grouping represents a pool of untapped talent and potential. Those people could be put to use for the ministry in remarkable ways.
Likewise, he notes that these are people who are engaged and plugged in with the outside world. That gives them a wonderful opportunity to spread what they know with the people around them. If only these “marketplace” Christians had the tool set that they needed, they could be powerful ambassadors, spreading the Christian message to places where it might not have otherwise gone.
What is the big problem then? The author asserts that a major part of the problem is that the church, in focusing its intensities on those people who have so much time and energy to invest in the church, neglects the spiritual needs of these individuals. Fraser believes that these people tend to feel as if they are less important, and that makes them withdraw from the church even more than they might have in the beginning.
One of the good things about this book is that it is not without solutions. It proposes that pastors should take this problem seriously and develop approaches to meeting the needs of this population. Namely, these people should be encouraged to pursue their spiritual gifts. The challenge, of course, is coming up with a way that these people can apply their spiritual gifts in the workplace, and the author notes that this can different depending upon what a person does and where he works.
Part of what this book focuses on is strategies for helping people stay close with God during the busy parts of their work. The workplace can make people feel disconnected from God, but the author notes that it does not have to be that way. It may require some effort, but people can plug in, even while they are working.
Likewise, the author notes the ways that people can use their work to glorify God. No matter what a person does, there are certain principles – hard work, compassion, responsibility – that glorify God. These things should be celebrated and valued by any Christian in the workplace.
Most important, perhaps, is the author’s challenge to marketplace Christians on changing their point of view. He wants these individuals to begin to see the workplace as a real opportunity with God lurking around every corner. There are opportunities to see God, connect with God, and do good for God, even in one’s daily work.
Overall, this book deals with a very important topic in the Christian church today. How are those people who are living a professional life and a Christian life supposed to bring those things together? This book is in many ways practical and in some ways theoretical. It provides strategies and points of view for people who are interested in getting the most out of their lives as Christians thrust into the secular workplace.