The Christian Marketplace Movement

Book Titles As A Window

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by Pete Hammond (adapted)

This overview is a way to look at the development of the 20th Century’s Marketplace Movement. This glance at a modern movement of God looks at descriptive book titles that have been published over the last seventy-plus years. It provides a way to see the development of major concepts and concerns in this renewal of everyday-faith. In this survey we can also see the issues that are being explored, or rediscovered. It also notes some of the key leaders who have made their contribution as authors. I have selected these from my collection of over 2,000 volumes on various dimensions of this renewal of the western church. Many books not listed here are very important works that make major contributions.

The First 30 Years:

The Early Pioneers & Prophets, 1930 – 1959

A few early voices of this movement were raised during this period when America was pre-occupied with recovery from the Stock Market Crash and the Depression (1929) and World War II (1939-45). In the Protestant wing of the church, some new winds of change surfaced at the World Council of Churches (WCC) in their two Evanston, IL meetings of 1948 and 1954. The books of this era were pleas for a more intentional focus of the Christian faith on the issues of the times, and they set the stage for the wider engagement of everyday life and society that would gain some momentum in the 1960s. As best we can determine the term Marketplace Ministry was first used in print in 1954.

  • The Social Achievements of the Christian Church, E. H. Oliver, United Church of Canada, 1930
  • Liberating The Lay Forces of Christianity, John R. Mott, The Student Christian Movement, 1932
  • The Cost of Discipleship, Deitrich Bonhoeffer, MacMillan, 1937
  • Vocation, Roland Hogben, InterVarsity Press, 1938
  • The Person and the Common Good, Jacques Maritain Catholic Worker Bookstore, 1946
  • The Presence of the Kingdom, Jacques Ellul, Seabury, 1948
  • Creed Or Chaos, Dorothy L. Sayers, Sophis Institute Press, 1949
  • Signs of Hope In a Century of Despair, Trueblood, Elton, Harper & Brothers, 1950
  • Your Other Vocation, Elton Trueblood, Harper & Brothers, 1952
  • The Biblical Doctrine of Work, Alan Richardson, SCM Press, 1952
  • Saints In Politics, Ernest Marshall Howse, University of Toronto Press, 1952
  • Your God Is Too Small, J. B. Phillips, MacMillan, 1955
  • A Theology of the Laity, Hendrik Kraemer, Westminister, 1958
  • The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Max Weber, Scribner’s Sons, 1958
  • The 1960s: Cultural Chaos, and Church Change

This was a period of major upheaval and cultural change in North America. This chaotic era included the Viet Nam War and opposition to it; the emergence of the Feminist Movement; assassinations of national leaders like Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and the Kennedy brothers – John and Bobby; and the rise of the American Civil Rights Movement. Similar turbulence among Christians triggered an increased flow of marketplace ministry books, with some very telling titles. Another major input among Christians was the Roman Catholic Vatican II Council in Rome in 1962-65, setting the stage for major change in Catholicism worldwide.

  • God’s Colony In Man’s World, G. W. Webber, Archabbey Press, 1960
  • Work: Christian Thought and Practice, John Todd, Darton, Longman & Todd, 1960
  • Monday Morning Religion, Luther Joe Thompson, Broadman, 1961
  • The Rebirth of the Laity, Howard Grimes, Abingdon, 1962
  • The Secular Relevance of the Church, Gayraud J. Wilmore, United Presbyterian Church, 1962
  • The Suburban Captivity of the Churches, Gibson Winter, McMillan, 1962
  • The Priesthood of the Faithful, Emilie Joseph De Smedt, Paulist Press, 1962
  • The Christian In An Industrial Society, Oliver Barclay, England IVPress, 1963
  • Theology of Work: An Exploration, Marie Dominique Chenu, Gill & Son, 1963
  • A Christian’s Guide to Daily Work, Randle Manwaring, Hodder & Stoughton, 1963
  • Salty Christians, Hans Reudi Webber, Seabury Press, 1963
  • Consecration of the Laymen, Max Thurian, Helicon Press, 1963
  • God’s Frozen People: A Book for and About Christian Laymen, Mark Gibbs & T. Ralph Morton, Westminster, 1964
  • Laymen Into Action, Joseph Cardijn, Geoffrey Chapman, 1964
  • The Spirituality of the Layman, R. L. Oechslin, Desclee Company, 1964
  • The Comfortable Pew, Pierre Berton, Lippincott, 1965
  • The New Reformation, John A. T. Robinson, SCM Press, 1965
  • The Adventure of Living, Paul Tournier, Harper & Row, 1965
  • Help! I’m A Layman, Kenneth Chapin, Word, 1966
  • Theology In An Industrial Society, Margaret Kane, SCM Press, 1966
  • Dissenter in A Great Society: An Indictment of Christian Complacency in American Life, William Stringfellow, Abingdon, 1966
  • God On Monday, Simon Phipps, Hodder & Stoughton, 1966
  • Christian In the Marketplace, Karl Rahner, Sheed & Ward, 1966
  • The Deeds of Faith, Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, Harper & Row, 1966
  • Honest Religion for Secular Man, Lesslie Newbigin, Westminster, 1966
  • The Incendiary Fellowship, Elton Trueblood, Harper & Row, 1967
  • Take My Life: A Plea for Wholehearted Christianity, Michael Griffiths, IV Press, 1967
  • Christians Active in the World, Yves Congar, Herder & Herder, 1968
  • The Post Conciliar Christian: The Meaning of the Priesthood of the Laity, Timothy McCarthy, PJ. Kennedy & Sons, 1967
  • Journey Inward, Journey Outward, Elizabeth O’Connor, Harper & Row, 1968

The 1970s:

Second Generation Marketplace Ministry Pioneers

In this decade, social change continued to cause cultural turbulence, as the anti-war (Viet Nam) movement gained momentum and the challenges of urbanization, poverty and crime rose to the American forefront. A few new voices from the faith community added some revealing book titles to the flow of the prophetic works from the 1960s. Questions about the nature and function of the church (Both Protestant and Roman Catholic) gained broad interest and discussion as society in general increased its disapproval and opposition to things Christian. Within the church new concerns surfaced as the Charismatic Movement crossed all the old Anglo church boundaries and the rise of the Jesus Movement grew among youth. Both of these cut across longstanding traditional denominational divides. Among Roman Catholics, the National Center for Laity began in Chicago focusing on the implications of Vatican II for the ministry of the laity in the work world.

The 1980s:

A Marketplace Movement Begins to Take Shape

Many entrepreneurs, scholars and church leaders took their place among those pleading for the application and practice of faith in everyday life in jobs and careers, the economy, the poor, politics and legislation, race and reconciliation, and in urban communities. As these issues were addressed, some new alliances connected believers across old divides. Some mainline Protestant denominations developed departments focused on MP/MDL matters. Among Evangelicals, a followup to the 1974 Lausanne Congress of World Evangelism convened by Billy Graham met in Manila in 1989 and its Manila Manifesto called for both repentance and change in the role of the laity in the mission of the church. Coupled with the ripples from the WCC 1948 and 1954 meetings and the 1962-65 Vatican II council, more momentum developed in this decade.

The 1990s:

The Momentum Increases and Diversifies

This season of American economic abundance, and greed, increased the gulf between rich and poor, while the entertainment industry grew by leaps and bounds. New voices joined the exploration of faith and everyday life, and many new ventures were launched by Evangelical, Mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic leaders – by both religious professionals and everyday believers. Some hopeful new alliances emerged, illustrated by the Coalition for Ministry In Daily Life (CMDL) which was launched by Lutherans Bill Diehl and Sally Simmel. CMDL provided a venue for Mainline Protestants, Evangelicals and Roman Catholics to connect and collaborate. Among Independents and Charismatics, Os Hillman began sponsoring an annual national gathering.

2000 and Beyond:

Depth, Divisions and Disappointments

The new millennium saw an increase of thoughtful marketplace-faith developments in ethics, economics, theology and culture, as scholars weighed in, the first doctoral works were produced, and some graduate schools expanded their commitment to marketplace issues and needs. Many new products in the field flowed into the growing market (Curricula, Bible studies, text books, case studies, video & CDs, etc.), while ministry and service organizations came and went, much like what happens in the small business sector where two thirds of the start-ups expire within three years. A similar churning of publications occurred with many failures, including my own Marketplace Networks/Metier newszine. And now, some new voices are emerging from the Charismatic, Fundamentalist and ethnic church leaders.

I am encouraged with the growth, diversity and increasing depth of marketplace ministry as we enter this new millennium. Its breadth now includes every Christian stream, across denominational lines, all ethnic communities in the Western culture, and all generations. Its leader’s engagement of issues is gaining substance, depth and practical application to challenges the people of God face (e.g.: globalization, AIDS, wealth, poverty & generosity, nationalism, ethnicity & racism, corporate ethics & social responsibility, new wineskins for the people of God, technology, entertainment & leisure, war and violence, healthcare, governance & legislation, etc.)

But much work remains to be done in several areas of in order to expand kingdom impact. We need to help older believers (my generation of Builders or pre-WWII babies) discover their significance beyond church work and retirement. Boomers need help with balance between family and work. Younger Post-moderns long to find faith communities that attract them, and help them develop ways to live counter-culturally on major kingdom issues. Current professional church workers need to rediscover their calling and let go of their institutional power in order to become mobilizers of all believers in ministry. Middle and upper-class Christian citizens need to embrace risk and sacrifice as prophets for justice and righteousness. Peacemaking deserves a much broader buy-in and resourcing among Christians. Skilled leaders and powerful gatekeepers need to integrate faith values and commitments into their positions of influence in politics, business, government, health-care and entertainment industries. Christian graduate education needs to do the work on theological, biblical and historical renewal as they train leaders for this movement. Seminaries need to review their training of pastors so we have congregational leaders who believe ministry is the calling, privilege and responsibility of every member, all week. And on, and on it goes.

One other major challenge for the western church is the shift of Christian momentum, growth and passion to the younger churches in the southern hemisphere.

As the nexus of the Christian church moves south of the equator, the western MP/MDL movement will have lots to learn, and will need to figure out how to provide its resources in humble and gracious ways, while deciding we have much to learn from the emerging leaders in Africa, Latin America and Asia. It is their turn to lead in the church’s mission to serve the world.

I wait with anticipation for the new books that will address these needs and help equip all Christ-followers to be kingdom agents in all of life.

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