the weblog of Alan Knox

Why are they surprised?

Posted by on Feb 4, 2011 in service, unity | 8 comments

Why are they surprised?

As some of my readers know, my family and some friends from the church have been helping out in a food pantry that is hosted by another church. The host church is quite different (ecclesiologically) than we are. But the people who are running the food pantry have invited us and welcomed us to help them serve the people in our community and the surrounding areas.

Now, alot of people work very hard to provide food people who come to this food pantry. My particular assignment is to spend time talking with as many of the 300+ families to come to get food. As we talk, they often ask me about myself or about the host church. They are usually surprised by my answers. Recently, I was thinking about this, and I began to wonder why they were surprised.

Why are they surprised when they find that I am not part of the host church?

Why are they surprised when they find that I am not paid to be there (not on staff)?

Why are they surprised that I work a normal job just like them?

Why are they surprised when I praise the people who are part of this host church?

Why are they surprised that several of our small church are working at the food pantry?

Now, it might be easy to answer the questions above in a way that blasts our current church structure and culture. But, let me ask you something…

Are we doing anything to alleviate those surprises? Are we seeking to work together with other believers (who may be part of radically different churches) to show people that we really are united? Do we expect our paid staff to do more than everyone else?

Are they surprised because we are part of the problem?


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

  1. 2-4-2011


    Unless I am oversimplifying things the answers to your questions seem easy. They are surprised because they don’t normally see those things. To alleviate that surprise we should do those things more, thus making them not as unusual. Is that too simple?


  2. 2-4-2011


    It does seem simple doesn’t. But, somehow, even though the answers are simple, people are still surprised…


  3. 2-4-2011


    I’m so glad you asked the last question.

    I will be waiting with bated breath for a really honest answer.

  4. 2-4-2011

    maybe more an abstract answer:

    in a sense, Christ is always surprising

    I guess His people should be also.

    when we become predictable and boring, maybe we should ask questions about what we believe

  5. 2-5-2011

    Aussie John,

    Well, I’ll answer it for you. Yes, I think we’re part of the problem, and we all need to be working to alleviate the problem.


    Yes, I think we should be creative and surprising. But, I don’t think serving others and serving together should be surprising. In the early church, this was what the Christians were known for.


  6. 2-5-2011

    It sounds like this is a church-based ministry, rather than the “neutral” territory of a para-church ministry? That’s what seems unusual to me–that other, ecclesiastically different churches would work together in a church-based ministry. That doesn’t happen very often! I mean, they get the glory, right?

    But I think “para-church” ministries have an enormous potential for bringing Christians to work together from different churches/denominations/traditions. This happens quite frequently. To me, that kind of makes them a strategy for unifying (at least, intermingling) the church in a locality…

  7. 2-5-2011


    I agree with your answer. It would have been nice to need to scroll a long way down to read similar answers!

  8. 2-6-2011


    I’m still trying to understand the history of this particular food pantry. I know that it did not start out being hosted by this particular church. But, I agree that part of the (perceived) problem is that it is a “church” ministry, so it is only for those who are members of that particular church. We’re changing that perception, I hope.

    Aussie John,

    Yes, it would have been nice. I’ve stopped trying to guess which posts will get comments and which ones won’t get comments.



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