Monday, February 18, 2013

"The Legend of the Monk and the Merchant" by Terry Felber

Snack of Choice:
It’s not the authentic NY style, but for $5 you can’t really complain. Thank you, Caesar (but your better watch out for Brutus).  

Story behind the Story:
I’ve been craving the smell of a real book. You know what I mean, the ones that just smell like a library. I’m missing it this go round because of new technology. First book I officially read on the i-Pad. Check out the last time I tried to read an e-book: [Church in the Making]. Book Sneeze by Thomas Nelson provided a digital copy of this book.

Story Line:
Financial and Business Guru, Dave Ramsey highly recommends and passes this book around to everyone who comes on board his company.  The main tenet of the book is “The Merchant is a minister too.”  I love that. As a pastor, I love having fellow ministers in the market place partnering together to accomplish the purposes of the Lord.

This short story, set in the boom of Venice, shared how generations pass on 12 principles of business for the believer. The second half is a small group study guide that delves into some real life application of the story.  

The Real Story:
While I love the premise, I’m confounded by the seeming contradiction of messages.  Instead of being on the same team, the “monks” (ministers) are portrayed as misusing Scripture (104, digital) and discouraging the merchants who are supporting the Lord’s work with their money. One quote that seems to mark the authors belief of these roles is as follows: “God has designed a special relationship between businessmen and leaders in the church. We, as businessmen, can provide the provision for the vision of the priests” (135 – also see 136, 138).  But in truth, the “Great Commission” isn’t exclusively for ministers.  It does not say to the merchant, “Give you’re money, and let the monks do the witnessing, the teaching, the discipling.” It says, “All of us have are to get our hands dirty.”

Fortunately, the small group study got it right. “Under the new covenant, because all Christians now have the Holy Spirit, all believers are priests and can personally worship God and minister to God and his people” (148). “But whether in vocational ministry (monks) or ministry in the marketplace (merchants), we are call called to ‘go’”(149). “Everyone in [our] building knows that they’re operating under a higher calling, because our work is holy” (150).

There were some other contradictions between the story and the guide (ie. 77 & 162) to the point that it seemed to be written by two different authors. (See acknowledgements, looks like it was). Oh, and I wasn't a fan of the story telling either.

Check out:
Dave Ramsey stuff – great biblical principles for businesses and life.
The Book of Acts – all kinds of regular people serving God in extraordinary ways.

out of 5 Venetian Trade Beads (and that's out of respect for the small group material).

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