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The Place of Orality in the Marketplace

By Jerry Wiles

Many of those who are new to the Orality domain are still thinking about a foreign mission strategy.  Some may think of storytelling or Bible storying.  However, the concepts, principles and practices of Orality are beginning to be recognized as important in many other areas, including the marketplace and the business world. 

Orality in Business

Every Shopping Trip can be Missional

Within the Orality in Business Network there’s a growing awareness and recognition of its benefits in a variety of applications.  Orality methods are effective ways of improving working relationships and community, addressing organizational change, leadership and maintaining corporate culture.  Storytelling, guided discovery, action learning and narrative skills are also becoming popular topics for communications, public speaking, sales and marketing.

Ministry in the Marketplace

In addition to benefiting the Business as Mission, or Missional Business efforts, there are other aspects and applications of Orality methods and strategies.  Marketplace ministries and marketplace evangelism are areas that have become important topics over the past few decades.  Houston, Texas, was the host city for a World Congress for Marketplace Evangelism in 1994.  That event converged with an AD 2000 Consultation, which resulted in launching several new ministry initiatives, and many of those have continued since then.

On Mission with God

Farmers Markets are Great Places for Jesus Conversations

Not every follower of Jesus is part of the business community.  However, almost everyone is engaged in some way in the marketplace.  Most people go shopping from time to time, buy things and deal with sales and marketing people.  All of those occasions can be witness and ministry opportunities.  Coming to an awareness that every follower of Jesus is (or should be) “On Mission with God,” means that every day, wherever we happen to be, we are ambassadors for Christ, representatives of Jesus.  Every human contact can be an opportunity to be salt and light to those around us.

Shopping Mission Trips

In our Prayer-Care-Share training efforts, we like to show, as well as tell, how to more effectively connect and engage with people.  Many of those encounters lead to spiritual conversations and opportunities to share the Gospel.  A lady who participated in one of our training sessions was amazed and surprised at the results.  She later said, “I see that I can do this every day.”  When we have a mind-set of being “On Mission with God,” every shopping trip can be a mission trip.  Every phone conversation (with telemarketers or wrong numbers) can be an opportunity to bring the name of Jesus into the conversation.  When we do those activities consistently and faithfully, we’ll find those who have open hearts (fertile soil) and are eager to learn more.  It’s the Seed (the Word of God) that tests the soil.

Power of Small Groups

It may seem like a simple thing, but those initial connections often lead to long-time relationships and transformed lives.  With some intentional efforts, small group discussions can be a way of following up and involving people in prayer groups and church life.  There are many different models and resources available now to assist with those efforts.

Reproducing Life

Discovery Groups and Prayer Gatherings, Anytime, Anywhere

In our experience with Living Water International, we’ve promoted forming support and accountability groups as a follow up to our Bible Storying // Orality Training Workshops.  Those groups can, and often do, become reproducing disciple making cell groups.  Historically, small cell groups have become catalysts for movements that change families, communities and even nations.

Power of Simplicity

The better we understand and act upon the simple instructions of Jesus, to love people, communicate the Good News, and make disciples, the sooner we’ll experience the contagious nature of our faith.  Which is really the reproducing life of the Lord Jesus in and through our humanity.  Ultimately, it’s the indwelling Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit that enables us to be fruitful members of the Body of Christ.

A Different Mental Model

Having spent a considerable amount of time among Bible-less, unreached and oral people groups over the years has caused me to think differently and outside the modern Western mental model.  For example, the following are a few important questions to ponder:

  • How much and what does a person need to know in order to become a follower of Jesus?
  • What are the best ways of communicating the message of Jesus to Oral Preference Learners?
  • Why is repetition and reproducibility critical to spreading the Gospel?
  • Where do most people spend most of their time? (Probably the business world, workplace or marketplace).
  • What are the most basic and essential things each of us can do to advance the Kingdom of God?

jerry-wilesA former pastor of mine use to say we should focus on “Loving People, and telling them the truth.”  That’s a great way of simplifying and summarizing our mission here on earth.

Jerry Wiles is President Emeritus of Living Water International and serves on the advisory council and leadership team of the International Orality Network. He can be reached at: [email protected].


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