Saturday, February 06, 2010

?Ministry?

Finally finished writing an essay on the relationship between the marketplace and theological institution. This is not an assignment but a no-pay voluntary effort for the upcoming Lausanne's conference at Hong Kong. A friend who is involved with Lausanne asked me to write something, and so I did. He asked me to join him in Hong Kong but I can't because no money for that. I have spent my savings acquiring books that are not found in TTC's library.

Spending 5 days writing the paper helped me to think through this issue at another level. Certainly there are a lot of Christians talking about marketplace ministry but usually what they really meant is setting up cell-group at offices to pray and do Bible study together. At best, this can be a place to consolidate Christians together in offices to pray for one another's job promotion; at worst, further deepening the gap between the marketplace and theological institution.

Setting up such cell-groups is no less good. Consolidation is needed for scattered Christians at offices to support each other. However, that alone is not marketplace ministry. We don't find Home Ministry setting up cell-groups at offices to merely console one another over policing failures. Neither do we find Defense Ministry setting up cell-groups for officers to merely read and discuss about the security manual and commit their lives to it every week. We have to regain the meaning of ministry in the Christian community. Unless we do that, marketplace ministers are just duplicating church-services in their offices and nothing more.

In my essay, I asked the question where is the place for Christian ministry in the marketplace? Although I didn't really wrote that question down, but the entire essay is driven to answer that question. Though it is about marketplace theology, yet it is more on the broader theme on providing a theological and philosophical framework to ground Christian works from within the marketplace and theological institution. And in that way, able to build a more clear picture how churches (as theological institution) should relate to the marketplace ministry, and vice versa.

When I finished the essay, I became more open to Christian ministry. Previously I do not favor at all to do ministry, as how the term is being popularly used within the Christian community: gateways for people to pray more and do Bible study more so that they can go heaven.

If ministry is not what contemporary Christians make it to mean, then I would look forward to be in it: context for which people bring heaven to earth.

2 comments:

achorusofehoes said...

Great insights on the issue with understanding ministry in the market place. General understanding would be just a reproduction of church in the work place like what you mentioned. And so ministry has never, in that case, become what it is supposed to be. If one would examine Eph 4:11-12 the giving of offices and what they are there to do, "to equip his people for works of service" has a say in combating an attitude that misrepresents ministry in a sense. I like what you said at the end

"context for which people bring heaven to earth."

I think this should be the way.

Anyway im just curious on the sources you used for the paper.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi achorusofehoes,

Thank you for your comment. The sources? Well, it is more of a consolidation of all the things that I have learned.

Start with the definition of 'kingdom of god' by John Meier's, Craig Evan's and N.T. Wright's studies on historical Jesus. Then studies on Paul by Paul Barnett, N.T. Wright, James Dunn, and Antony Thiselton.

Then meditation on the relationship between science and religion; philosophy and theology; and Christ and culture. Works ranging from Wentzel van Huysteen, Willem Drees, Alister McGrath, Andy Crouch, etc.

There are also some influences of Slavoj Zizek, Jurgen Habermas, Philip Goodchild, William Wilberforce, and John Milbank in the essay.

Others are insights gained from classroom teaching from Roland Chia, Simon Chan, and others; and conversation with friends like Andreas and Steven Sim.