the weblog of Alan Knox

Serving in the ordinary

Posted by on Dec 4, 2007 in blog links, service | 4 comments

In the last few years, I’ve talked to many people who have tried to serve believers and unbelievers outside of traditional church programs and structures. Sometimes, these same people struggle with deciding how they should serve. For example, consider this excerpt from grace’s article “An Ordinary Calling“:

This was a difficult adjustment for me in leaving our former church. Suddenly, I was aware of how much of the respect that I was accustomed to was dependent on my title and position. The position had automatically created ministry opportunities for me. Apart from the position, people were not seeking out ministry, advice, or counsel from me.

If I wanted to be involved in ministry now, it would have to occur in the realm of ordinary life in whatever means I could find to give and serve. This kind of serving not only doesn’t have the prestige of church ministry, it also doesn’t have the stamp of legitimacy that comes with ministry in a church setting.

Perhaps you have had some experience serving people outside of traditional church structures. If so, please share some of the ways that God has used you – in your ordinary life – to serve both believers and unbelievers.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 12-4-2007

    Alan~ Grace’s circumstances parallel mine. I have to say that it has been a totally disorienting process, but one thing I am learning is to be present in the moment. I had to change my focus from organization, programs, tasks, and planning to the people that I encounter in regular life. I know there is more to it that that, but it’s a start.

  2. 12-4-2007

    The past few years I’ve had the opportunity to serve both inside and outside of the traditional church settings. Inside serving was different in that it was more in the form of a to-do-list handed down from the pastor. It was accomplishing what needed to be done to keep the machine running. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it does require you to focus resources in one direction creating pulpit-vision. Meaning, you’re so focused on an agenda(vision) that you ignore the opportunities God places all around you.

    Serving outside the traditional church setting is much different. I don’t have a to-do-list from anyone and I don’t necessarily seek-out opportunities. The opportunities are right in front of me to walk into. The small stuff. The stuff that goes unnoticed. The stuff where no one is there to pat you on the back. I guess my peripheral vision is better than what it used to be.

    Some small stuff I’ve had the opportunity to walk into:

    -Befriending a few people who had no friends and no one to talk to. Two of these people passed on recently. You’ll see plenty of these lonely people at the coffee shops and elsewhere.
    -I noticed a neighbor I hadn’t met before was struggling by herself to move a couch so I offered my assistance. That family is now close friends of ours.
    -Monetary assistance to those in need.
    -“Counseling” a couple who needed advice on marriage problems. Been there, done that.
    -Snow blowing neighbors driveways and sidewalks.
    -Cooking our elderly neighbor dinner about once a week.
    -I was walking into Costco and noticed an older couple had a large chair in their cart, so I helped them lift it into their truck.
    -I drove past a person on a street corner with a sign that read “starving, please help.” Normally I don’t fall for this but he was, for whatever reason, different. So I sat down and had lunch with him, bought him groceries, and sent him off with some cash to get him to where he was going.

    These are some of the many opportunities that I’ve recently had to serve others outside of the church setting. If you are around any people at all and your eyes are open then there will be abundant opportunities to serve. Most of the stuff will go unnoticed and unappreciated. I personally don’t want credit for anything anyway. In fact, I’ve been scoffed at by “Christians” for some of the things that they do notice me doing. But, I really don’t care. To God be the glory in everything we do!

  3. 12-4-2007

    Some of the things that I am doing weekly:

    - coaching a 3&4 grade team
    - file clerk at the free clinic
    - assisting the Children Service
    - Driver for Meals on Wheels
    - eyes open as Jeff mentioned

    The one thing that I am trying to do is move from connections to relationships and take a tronghold of what it means to be a “place-sharer” (Bonhoeffer)

  4. 12-4-2007


    I think living in the moment is very important. Going along with that, its also important to recognize that God works in ordinary moments.


    Great list! Thank you for giving people ideas of how God may want to serve through them.

    Jeff Greathouse,

    Again, thanks for the great examples. Its amazing how God can use us in ordinary ways.