No, an agora is not some body part that you haven’t ever heard of before. An agora is an English transliteration of the the Greek word αγορα. It means “marketplace” and it comes up in passages like this one from Acts 17:
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.
Acts 17:16-17 NIV [italics added]
The marketplace was were Paul would go to sell his tents and tell people about the Risen King Jesus who was the Jewish Messiah and what that meant for their lives. It was something like a modern day mall, college campus, social media platform, and bustling city center all rolled into one. This place was a center of a city’s life in the ancient times. Where people who lived outside the city walls could sell the fruits of their labor, and where the city dwellers came together to get what they needed to make it through life in the big city. Naturally ideas would be past between people and it made it a perfect area for Paul to proclaim the Good News about Jesus to new ears!
But our world is not organized around an agora like the ancient world. When we shop, we often don’t talk to each other; when we post our ideas on social media, most of the time we are not offending the very people from whom we are buying the ingredients for the evening meal; when we go to our jobs, we often try to keep religion and politics as far from conversation as possible. We don’t have an easy place where we can go and tell people about the Risen King Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, and what His life, death, and resurrection mean for the lives of everyone we talk to.
We need to try to identify: where’s your agora? Everyone’s will be different, while maintaining some of the same elements. It is a place where you can rub shoulders with people who need to hear about Jesus, a place where you can speak about Jesus (even if it is uncomfortable… there are some places where talking isn’t really allowed), a place where other people will be open to hearing some really good news, and a place where you feel in your element.
Some of the folks at Grafted have identified these spaces for themselves and I want to throw them out there for your consideration:
- the local playground
- a bike shop
- a college campus
- a movie night in your home
- a recurring cookout with your neighbors
- during recess
- at the gym
- the local beer hall/smoke shop
- a record store
- your place of work
- with your high school friends on social media
While it may feel daunting to see that list and think that you have to reach out in EVERY SINGLE ONE of those spaces, don’t feel overwhelmed! Pick a single space from your life and consider if it could be your agora. If that is you, start up a simple conversation with someone about who they are, what they do, and if they go to church and why or why not. Most people have some interesting stories to tell! Listen to them and they might ask you the same questions back! Tell them about the Risen King, Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, and how His life, death, and resurrection has effected your life.
And then see what happens!