Over the past five years, the Marketplace Multipliers initiative has been working to equip Christians to integrate their faith and influence their workplace by making disciples and Unleashing the kingdom of God wherever they are.

There are 51 local Marketplace Multiplier chapters, which represent a cluster of people gathering to share stories and learn from one another. But on April 11-13, 2024, at College Wesleyan Church in Marion, Indiana, around 120 Marketplace Multipliers gathered from across the country to imagine how chapters, churches and laypeople could work together to see disciple making as central to the way laypeople approach their life and work.

Here are three takeaways from the gathering that will continue to shape the way we aim to do (and be) the church:

Ministry is relocating

Every day, Christians go into places filled with non-Christians who (at best) have a sense that Christianity is a benign influence in their community, and (at worst) have distaste toward faith, having been exposed to Christians behaving badly, whether through scandal or political entanglement. For Christians coming into these environments, the Marketplace Multipliers conference provided guidance on how to meet the needs of our neighbors in the workplace, even if those neighbors harbor indifference or suspicion towards faith.

Multiple speakers — Roger Younce (an educator at Kinwell Academy, an alternative school), Dr. Brenda Woods (a physician and county health official) and Dr. Jeff Clark (assistant basketball coach at Indiana Wesleyan University) — shared how even persons hostile toward faith need the kinds of empathy, listening and attention that faithful disciple makers can provide.

I walked away from this event refreshed, motivated and excited by the opportunity we have in everyday life to reach people for Christ who can’t easily be reached by our pastors,” said Krista Miller, an online business professional from Red Cedar Church in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. “The call to ‘go and make disciples’ has always felt intimidating to me, but Pastor DeNeff [College Wesleyan Church senior pastor], among others, broke down the shepherding process in a way that simply begins by loving and serving others and trusting God to move. That I can do!”

The church climate is an opportunity

The past several years in church ministry have been among the most challenging in recent memory; and as post-pandemic church “normal” has set in, it is easy to see why many view this cultural moment as a threatening one. Clergy are losing social capital. Traditional metrics of church success (budgets and attendance, for example) have seen seismic shifts — making it harder to rely on those metrics as the sole reliable indicators of church effectiveness.

That unreliability can be alarming unless clergy and laity work together to identify new ways of assessing whether their churches are on mission.

Possible metrics include how many:

  • disciple makers are activated in congregations,
  • different “domains of work” are represented in congregations and have shepherds actively serving as marketplace multipliers,
  • acts of humility, repentance, service and love the congregation has taken,
  • people have crossed the line of faith into new life in Jesus because of someone’s effort in the workplace or neighborhood.

These ways of measuring effectiveness — unfamiliar as they are — may provide insights into how a congregation is meeting the moment.

Throughout the conference, Reverend Dr. Steve DeNeff referred to the gospel as something “contagious,” using the church in Antioch as an example of how the gospel can’t be contained but can be caught and disseminated by people experiencing the wholeness of Jesus’ character taking root in their own personality.

“The one thing I hope the church takes away from this movement is that it does not have to be pretty,” said Kortney Nanstad, Red Cedar Church in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. “It can be messy and chaotic. Like Pastor Deneff said, it’s a virus and we can’t control it — however, can we harness the power of this Antioch movement without stifling it into a box of stability and comfortability.”

If we cooperate with the Spirit, the changing church landscape doesn’t have to be scary; it can be an opportunity for the church to be known as a loving, intentional presence among our neighbors.

“Since the conference, I have been dreaming about what it would look like to have a group of people in our church believing their workplace is really a space for God to use them in awesome ways, and what it might look like to take initial steps towards that,” reflected Reverend Jared Kaufman, pastor of Multiplication and Discipleship at Fairmount Wesleyan Church in Fairmount, Indiana.

Churches are for gathering and sending

Churches tend to solve problems through programming; perhaps because for thousands of years, the church has joined every seven days for a worship service. But as ministry relocates (and our metrics shift), it becomes increasingly important that churches think about how to create solutions beyond regular events that we invite people to.

One of the most powerful components of the Marketplace Multipliers event was seeing people cross-pollenate ideas about workplace shepherding. Educators, coaches, medical professionals, pastors, retirees, business people, nonprofit leaders, construction workers and more were at the event — each with distinct stories about the gospel coming alive in their work.

If our congregations can imagine ways of emphasizing sending just as much as gatherings —  whether through visiting workplaces, learning how people experience their jobs, introducing smaller groups of shepherds to one another, pairing people with mentors in their field or thousands of other ideas that could emerge — congregations can meet the moment with creative curiosity, helping people to see loving and serving their neighbors as a primary pursuit of their lives.

“My hope is that calling and equipping everyday people to make disciples, rather than relying on the pastor, will simply become what we do — the new normal,” said Krista. “I already see it happening at our church, but I know many others still struggle with the concept. I hope that as more churches embrace the movement that others will see the effectiveness and have no choice but to join in!”


The April Marketplace Multipliers conference videos and materials are available at collegewes.com/multipliersconference. If you’re interested in joining this movement, seeing how you and your church can lean in, visit wesleyan.org/marketplacemultipliers.

Rev. Ethan Linder is the pastor of discipleship at College Wesleyan Church in Marion, Indiana, and contributing editor at The Wesleyan Church’s Education and Clergy Development Division.