Don’t Overlook the Ordinary

images.jpgI’ve been thinking a lot about ordinary ministry lately.  I don’t mean ministry as a career or professional task.  Right now I am thinking of ministry as it might have been among the earliest Christians as they met in one another’s homes.  I am thinking of ministry as we are gifted and then empowered by the Holy Spirit to serve people.

 
I am not sure why I am giving this so much thought right now.  Maybe it is the way that we have complicated things.  Anyway, I am sitting here with a freshly brewed cup of coffee and listening to the "Whisperings" station on iTunes.  In the last forty-eight hours, I have been with a longtime mentor of mine, in his home.  Later in the day, I spent a wonderful couple of hours with a new friend.  There was something about both of these conversations that reminded me of the importance of the simplicity of ministry.

 
Anyway, here is what I am thinking.

 
It seems to me that far too many of us believe that most of the action in a church is on Sunday and the real ministry of that church is tied up in its various organized ministries.   Now Sunday mornings are very important in the life of a church.  The various organized ministries of a church can be very, very important as well.  People are blessed and good things happen because men and women are willing to work together in these ministries.

 
What concerns me is there is often not a sense of real ministry taking place during the week. My concern is that quite often people on Sunday morning are not leaving these church buildings with a sense of leaving to minister.  Yet, the truth is, these men and women are going to factories, offices, and school buildings with opportunities to minister to others.  Every week there are wonderful moments in which we have the opportunity to be a part of an international ministry.  

 
What if we had no organized ministries as a church?  What if we had no church building?  Could we really make a difference in our communities?  Now I am not proposing that we do away with these organized ministries or our church buildings.  I am suggesting that God is not dependent on such things to make a difference.  I am saying that a group could exist as a church and go into the community under the power and leading of the Spirit and know that significant ministry can happen.  God continues to gift and empower and make a difference even though we may wonder if it is possible.

 
Some of the most important ministry happens during the week in law offices, school buildings, and retail stores.  Significant ministry may be happening in your time with another at Starbucks or at lunch.  It may be happening at your kitchen table as you talk with one of your children.  God has empowered and equipped us to be used by him to make a difference during the week. 

 
Who is a person whose ministry to you has made a significant difference?  Where did much of this ministry take place?  What can be done to affirm and encourage the ministry of ordinary people during the week? 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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11 thoughts on “Don’t Overlook the Ordinary

  1. To affirm and encourage the ministry of ordinary people during the week, one need only focus on the ministry of Jesus.  We sometimes forget that Jesus was an ordinary carpenter and he carried out his mission in everyday places with everyday people.  We are each called to do the same.

  2. lately i have noticed that God works in relationship…starting with a person’s necessary ongoing  and real relationship with God and in that moving into relationship with others.  and these other relationships can overlap with relationships which can also work to the good of God through it.  in our relationship with God i think there is the Holy Spirit working in Love in our other relationships…no matter where, when, or in what group the relationship takes place.
    anyway…i think that God works through us…through our relationship.
    if we are relating to God…and if we are relating to others…than this is ministry, because God works through this. 
    relating to and loving one another and God.

  3. On Chris Folmsbee’s blog I found this quote from Henri Nouwen:
    “More and more, the desire grows in me to simply walk around, greet people, enter into homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them. It is a privilege to have the time to practice the simple ministry of presence. Still, it is not as simple as it seems. My own desire to be useful, to do something significant, or to be a part of some impressive project is so strong that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets.
    It is difficult not to have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause, and not to feel that you are working directly for social progress. But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them but truly love them.”
    Then I had the opportunity in the last couple of days to sit down (God whispering "enter in") with people I don’t know and listen to their stories.  It felt like I was entering sacred space as I listened to them tell me stories of life.  Nothing spiritual came up in the "words"…but it felt like ministering.  I hope to continue to take the risk to enter into these sacred spaces more and more….

  4. I am a mother to three little boys aged 6, 3½ and almost 2.  While more recently things have lightened up a lot, I went through a very difficult period of mothering which lasted almost 2 years.  I was living in a foreign culture where most people had a full-time maid who took care of their children at will and did household chores.  One lady who I met through a newcomer’s Bible study has ministered to me through that time by welcoming me and my children into her home on a weekly basis for crafting and lunch.  Her own son is a teenager and so she was long out of the diapers phase but in a culture where people left their little ones with the maid when visiting a friend she opened her life to us time and time again.  In many ways we are different but we have conversed openly as friends and found that we share so many things in common.  Her ministry of having a hospitable life has encouraged me and shown me ministry through ordinary means.  My children love her, my husband is thankful for her and I thank God for her true friendship.

  5. I am a little apprehensive to inject this word, but to me, this post highlights some of the important aspects of the emergent church movement.  Or at least parts of that movement which I understand. I know there is lots more to this, but the idea of downplaying Sunday ministry and encouraging and enabling every-day ministry (which includes Sundays) is the best of what I can glean from all the emergent books and blogs. Apologies if this sets off a firestorm…

  6. Thanks very much Connie.  I do think that Jesus and his daily ministry are at the heart of anything we do that is significant.

  7. Jenny,What a wonderful story!  How encouraging to hear of the ministry of this lady.  For her to open her home and her life to you says so much.  Thank you for sharing this encouraging story through you comment.

  8. David,Thanks so much for sharing this quote from Nouwen.  I have been blessed by reading many of his books.  Again, I am blessed by the quote that you shared in this comment.Thank you. 

  9. Nancy,Thanks so much for your thoughts.  You have captured the essence of ministry in your words.  Thanks for this comment today. 

  10. Hi Dave,You are right.  This probably does highlight some of the most important pieces of this conversation.I want to add, however, that my intention was not to downplay Sunday as much as it is to elevate the other six days as equally important to Sunday.  It may just be my experiences, but far too often these other days are downplayed and not seen as times where vital ministry takes place.