If you live in England and you are looking for people on a Sunday morning, you’ll find them at the local Car Boot Sale. If you are looking for Christians, you will find them in the church. Why do they meet in the church on a Sunday morning when the lost are wandering through a field nearby, haggling for junk with their neighbours. A car boot sale is a market, where people pay a fee to bring their cars, open the boot (trunk) and sell whatever they have inside. I strongly advocate that Christians in England get out of their churches and go to the car boot sales. When they are there, they can set up an obviously religious stand, not with the aim of selling anything much, but to engage in conversation with real people with real issues.
In America, there are churches that have set up their campuses in malls. I think that churches with coffee shops in public places are a great idea. After reading today’s passage below, I am challenged to do something I used to do as a student at Moody Bible Institute. I used to go to local discussion groups at libraries or bookstores (have to go to Borders quickly now before they all close). I had particular success in the Borders on Michigan and Chicago, in Chicago. The group started slamming missionaries because of ‘cultural imperialism’. All I had to do was say, “I was a missionary in Pakistan.” After that I was bombarded with questions about my faith.
My local library in McHenry, IL holds film viewing followed by discussion. They also have a few book clubs where they discuss the books they are reading. This could be my Areopagus.
16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” 21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)
22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.
24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’[b] As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’[c]
29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.
- With what two groups did Paul argue in the marketplace?
- What do these two groups believe (look them up on-line)?
- Do you know people who hold these beliefs today?
- Where would such people be likely to have a god conversation about their beliefs?
- How could you be ‘in the market place’?
Review In the Market, with Janet Parshall.
Do you think that may people who disagree with the views on the show listen to her? Why? Why not? Is it her rationale to equip a Christian to be ‘in the market’ or to host the marketplace where ideas can be discussed? Why do you think that her show is aggressively expanding in being syndicated across the USA?