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To Market, To Market
Our churches may be rich with programs and procedures, but where is our heart? Is our passion to reach the marketplace with the message of the Cross?

One of my grandmother's favourite rhymes was:

"If we build it/do it they'll come" we think. T'ain't so!

To market, to market
To buy me a pig.
Home again, home again
Jiggidy jig!

You'd often hear her say that as she headed out the door to buy fresh meat and vegetables at the farmer's market. I guess it kind of put things in perspective for her. She knew that those things weren't going to come to her on their own … she had to go to them!

I see an interesting parallel in the Church today. We've bought into the notion that if we can only build bigger and better buildings, and run more and more programs, and serve the freshest coffee in town, then the lost will beat a path to our door each Sunday morning. "If we build it/do it they'll come" we think. T'ain't so! In fact, they're staying away by the millions.

When we look at church growth (the bringing in of the ripened harvest), we often end up in a debate over programs and plans and policies, stacking one against another.

I don't think that's the problem at all. The problem today in our churches isn't one of a lack of programs or policies or procedures—it's one of a lack of passion for the lost. And that comes from a lack of passion for God. If we really knew God the way we claimed to know Him, then we would share His heartbeat for a lost and dying world. How do I know there's a lack? It's quite simple.

Next week in your church announce a feast. Invite everyone to come to a lovely meal, even if it's pot luck. The following week, announce a fast. Secure public commitments from those who would be willing to forego solid foods for a 72-hour period and spend time in the presence of God through prayer and Bible reading. Then count those who participated in both events. Care to guess which invitation receives the greater response?

Check out your church budget. How much is spent on outreach and evangelism? How much is spent on providing adequate staff for assimilation and follow-up of new converts? How much is given to home missions and world mission? How many short-term and career missionaries have been sent by your church in recent years?

Methodology and programs have their place, but they're not the answer. We must have a passion to take the Gospel message to the marketplace where lost people live and work and play. We also need the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to do that effectively. The words of George MacLeod are true today:

I simply argue that the cross be raised again
At the centre of the market lace
As well as on the steeple of the church,

I am recovering the claim that
Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral
between two candles:

But on a cross between two thieves;
on a town garbage heap;
at a crossroad of politics so cosmopolitan
that they had to write His title
in Hebrew and in Latin and in Greek …

And at the kind of place where cynics talk smut,
and thieves curse and soldiers gamble.

Because that is where He died,
and that is what He died about.
and that is where Christ's men ought to be,
and what church people ought to be about.

Frank Patrick has been the senior pastor at Calvary Pentecostal Church in Peterborough, Ontario, since 1986.

Originally published in Resource, November/December 1995.




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