Marketplace Missionary Journey: Nathan Elliot
Updated: Sep 22, 2019
by Nathan Elliot
To save you the story of a crazed lunatic living off of alcohol, drugs, and thrill in an attempt to satisfy a hunger that would never be quenched I will just say God intervened and brought me to the end of myself. The grace of God that saved this man was very costly and I knew it. My response to Jesus was like that of a sinful woman. She risked all by making her way into the religious Pharisee's house weeping at Jesus feet knowing that He was the answer to all of her problems. As I committed my life to Jesus that day, he sent me out the same way he sent her, "Your faith has saved you, go in peace" (Luke 7:50).
From that moment everything changed.
The idea of workplace ministry to me has always been torn. When you have a deep desire to share the Gospel and see transformed lives, the religious culture emphasizes this comes from “vocational” ministry calling. For some years now I have been going to college to obtain a Christian Ministry degree with hopes that once obtained I could finally step into the Christian ministry profession. The total brokenness of our world and the countless unreached people around me, burden my heart deeply. So, what could I do as a logistician during the week and an Army National Guardsman on the weekend?
As a “soon to be” vocational minister I shared the Gospel, did workplace Bible studies, led small groups in Army training events, started small groups in my home and at the Church, and even wrote daily devotionals for a year sending these out to my Soldiers and family in 4 countries spanning from the middle east to America. I did God's work faithfully, while patiently waiting for that one day where I could do this "full-time" and work in the specific calling in which God had planned. Then the day came where God stirred me and my family’s heart for missions to the unreached. With our eyes set on the 10/40 window, we began to pray.
A month later, I was planning a mission trip for the college group I led and one of my students, Karsten Ladner, introduced me to Dave Miller and Kirk Goss of the #NoPlaceLeft movement. We had an opportunity to contribute to reaching UPG's in OKC alongside them. They matured my understanding of the way the Kingdom advanced by modeling a discipleship methodology that changed my perspective forever. They used simple and reproducible tools to plant churches by making disciples who make disciples. As I look back, it’s exactly what I had tried to do so many times before, but now the process further clarified my spiritual gifts.
Jesus's command to go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation can never be done by a few who get paid to preach, teach, and minister to those in need. The idea that all the unreached and lost souls will come to a church or ministry setting to be saved is ridiculous. Jesus tells his disciples, "As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you" (John 20:21). We are Jesus’s disciples, so yes, he sent us! In Matthew 28:18 he says "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations."
The core missionary task of making disciples of all nations can never be accomplished by the few paid and trained professionals.
The imperative to "make disciples as you are going" implies our lives and various vocations are the places we are sent to proclaim the Gospel to all nations. We have a far-reaching network of clients, co-workers, employers, employees, and staff that so badly need to know Salvation and the truths of the Bible. If all those who are called to ministry exit the marketplace to pursue a "full-time" role in a ministry it leaves a spiritual void. Without the Christian nurse whose biblical values influence a pro-life choice, or the military leader whose value for life affects a strategic mission, or the local construction manager who advocates for character, integrity, selfless service, and morality, or the hair dresser who refuses to gossip and uses her chair as a time to spur one another on towards love and good deeds, the market place is left to be influenced by the world and its values meaning no salvation and a lot of false truth!
So now I see everything in my life is vocational ministry.
Whether I’m scheduling busses, line hauls, and commercial flights or I’m leading troops on field training exercises, counseling Soldiers on professional development, or I’m leading college ministry, mentoring men, or my family on prayer walks and daily devotions I am doing full-time ministry. In all these places “I am the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Cor. 2:15). As I seek to be a living sacrifice in all that I do, I no longer perceive it as a step toward my future vocation, but a daily step in my lifetime vocation of making disciples everywhere and in every time.
This has freed me to run in any direction that the Holy Spirit directs. Whether I am here or there or now or then the task is the same. Make disciples of Jesus who make disciples of Jesus. I do this knowing that Jesus is with me wherever I go. The Holy Spirit will guide, remind, and equip me to speak boldly the Gospel of Jesus Christ in whatever I find myself doing.
Nathan Elliot and his wife Kim live in Shawnee, OK. Making disciples is the focus in all their relationships including their children, workplaces, local church, and college students.