Ministry: at Church, at Home, or Abroad – it’s Serving!

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I’ve had the topic of ministry in my mind for quite awhile now. Most of my life (yes, since I was a little girl) I have served in ministries at the various churches I have been a member of. Whether it was helping in Sunday School, working in nursery, or just helping my mother as she served along in the church.

I enjoyed working in all these ministries, working with the kids and doing what I could to help. I loved it! Recently, however, I have felt guilt for the things I have not been able to do at the church I am currently at. After all, ministry is supposed to be a huge part of going to church right?

But between deployments, a special needs child who gets sick a lot, personal health problems, and just being plan tired from it all, I have not been able to serve like I feel I should have. I have let myself feel guilty even though I have tried.

When we first became members of the church we are at now, I decided to take a break for a time. To sit and be ministered to. I had served my whole life, and felt like it was time to sit back and learn a bit – to really grow more in my relationship with God. I felt I needed it after some things I had been through.

So I did that for awhile and enjoyed it, until I felt guilty again. I heard about a new ministry that was going to be starting at my church – Kid’s Choir and I thought that would be the perfect ministry for me to serve in. I loved kids and I loved music and singing. I helped every Sunday night for awhile, but soon after got pregnant and was feeling so sick and so very tired from everything my body was going through. I started missing a lot of Sunday nights to stay home and rest and I felt bad. Eventually I stopped doing it altogether and I felt even worse about it.

Then my son, Adam was born and I was told soon after that everyone who had a child in the nursery needed to serve in the nursery. So I was put on the schedule twice a month which was great until my husband deployed and my son was sick literally every two weeks. I was there as much as I could be, but for most of it I could not be there. I felt stressed constantly trying to find people to take my place and even though it was just me at home, and my son was sick, I felt guilty for not being able to do my part.

At the beginning of this year, I decided I wanted to join our church’s choir. I felt like I was ready for the commitment and ready to serve in another ministry! I happily joined and was there on Wednesdays for practice and sang whenever I could. Then came the health issues, another pregnancy, and the exhaustion from caring for a special needs toddler and being with him through many hours of weekly therapy. I went when I could, but I was barely there. I wondered what people thought. Here, I had made a commitment and I just couldn’t keep it as often as I thought I could.

Currently, I am still doing nursery twice a month when I can, and I am in choir, but have not been able to attend a choir practice in months. I feel bad and I feel guilty, but God has also shown me something along the way: ministry isn’t always serving in a church, it’s serving at home and abroad too!

I started looking back over the past 4 and half years that we have lived here. I realized that I have been serving – maybe not at my church, but here at home, in my town, and in my community.

  • My husband and I coached a 3 & 4 year old soccer team on the base. We had the opportunity to get to know many new military families and be a testimony to them.
  • I started a Facebook group for the wives of the Air Force base I am stationed at and through that was able to minister to many wives through inviting them to church, being an example, starting a military marriage Bible Study and more!
  • I babysat for many many families before my son was born, helping around their houses, taking care of their kids and setting a Godly example.
  • I served in my husband’s squadron as the Key Spouse, helping military wives get through deployments and checking in on them to make sure they were ok. Praying for each one, as they went through deployment.
  • I have enjoyed visiting military wives who I have heard were in the hospital, making meals for those who were sick or who just had a baby.
  • I have messaged, texted, prayed for, and encouraged those who I could through Facebook or other means if I saw they needed prayer, were having a bad day, or were going through something I could relate to.
  • I have had this blog for four years now, and have used it to try to help and encourage others who may be going through tough times.
  • I have served in my home and I have served in my own family doing the day-to-day things, raising my son, and keeping house.

I don’t list these things to say that I am so great, but to remind myself (and others) that serving in ministry doesn’t just mean serving at church, it means serving at home too!

Maybe you are a weary mom or wife. Maybe you just can’t serve in the church right now. That’s ok! Look around at what you are doing at home – if you are raising a family, you are serving in ministry! If you are encouraging others even your friends, you are serving in the ministry! If all you can do is post an encouraging word on Facebook, or smile at a stranger, then you are serving in the ministry!

We may not know how these little things are affecting others, but they are big in God’s eyes and in His kingdom. Don’t give up! This may be your time to sit back and just listen, to take in, and to grow. There may come a time later where God will have you serve again in the church, but maybe now he is calling you to be quiet or to just serve at home.

My friend Aprille, recently posted a post about those unable to serve in the church, those just “sitting on the premises.” She says this about several churches she was in:

“They chided people harshly for not stepping up to serve, for just sitting in the pew, for always taking and never giving. And I understand their point, especially when it’s common in churches for 10% of the people to do 90% of the work.

But what about those people sitting on the premises? Do we know their story? Do we know what hurts they are recovering from? Do we know why they aren’t serving? Could it be that maybe they aren’t lazy at all, but rather hoping to gain a closeness with Christ that they feel can only come through ‘sitting on the premises,’ resting, and being still? Or maybe they are holding back because they are giving themselves time to heal – from an abusive relationship, a prior bad church experience, a miscarriage or still birth, the loss of a loved one, a difficult deployment? Maybe they have a chronic illness?

But all we see is a lazy Christian who can’t lift a finger to serve in the church.

While mulling over these thoughts over the past few weeks, my mind keeps returning to the story of Mary and Martha.

‘Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.

And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.

But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.

And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:

But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.’ (Luke 10:38-42)

Here I see a girl sitting on the premises.’ I see her soaking up Jesus instead of serving. And Jesus says that this one thing – dedicated, focused time to spend in his presence – is needful; it’s a good choice; and it’s something that won’t ever be taken away from us.

The Bible talks a lot about serving God and other believers through good works, giving, and encouraging. But God also talks a lot about rest, being still, and sitting at the feet of Jesus.

‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.’ (Matthew 11:28-29)”

Read the rest of her post here: “Sitting on the Premises” – Sometimes it’s Ok not to Serve

It’s ok to take rest, it’s ok to be a Mary. When the time passes you may be able to do other things again, but until then, rest in the Lord, continue serving at home and do what you can as you can do it.

What are your thoughts on ministry (at home, at church, and abroad)?

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  1. I agree! Home ministry is still a ministry! I think it is important to put it first, before any other more formal ministries. Not that you can’t be a mom, and be involved in ministry at church or abroad, but if you only have the time and energy or health for one, the home ministry is the most important task! 🙂 good thoughts Kathryn! thanks for sharing your story!

    1. Yeah I agree being a wife and mom must come first! It’s hard to juggle all that and service at church, but so many do it. I think it’s just that everyone has a time for it and for young moms juggling a lot, it may not be the best time, but their time will come! Thanks for commenting! 🙂

    1. These are things that I have done over the almost 5 years that we have lived here, thankfully not all in one day or in one week! God has been good to allow for these opportunities over the years. My advice? Do what you can as you can, God will bring the opportunities as you pray for them. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  2. So very true. While there are always open needs in church ministry, ALWAYS, we should never feel guilted into participating. Sometimes we need to just look at our lives and recognize the needs that we can fill, the lives that we can touch in our own way. It isn’t exactly the same, but I wrote some quick thoughts down last night about sacrifice versus mercy… not the most beautiful blog post, but it was on my mind all through church. So much of our worldly drama can come from expectations from each other, rather than considering what God expects of us.

    1. I think a lot of the guilt comes from Pastors saying that everyone needs to serve and that people need to stop sitting the pews and do their part. I know at my church serving in ministry is mentioned so so much because we are a big church and there are a lot of ministries. I tend to feel guilty – even though I do so much at home.

      I agree expectations from others are hard and I need to focus more on what God wants of me in the here and the now. Thanks for sharing!

  3. this is so good to hear because I do feel guilty that I can’t serve the way that I want to, so I love your ideas of what you do. I love this post!

    1. Glad they were helpful to you! There are so many little things we can do every day or even once a week, and it doesn’t have to be a lot! Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  4. This is great. There is so much pressure to be the ‘super Christian’. I think all that mattes is that we are listening to what God wants us to do and we do it. I am similar to you in that I served since I was little and felt guilty if I wasn’t. Thankfully, I’m not to hard on myself with that anymore (I’m hard on myself in lots of other ways, though!) But with this, unless I feel God putting it on my heart, I let it pass. I know when He is prompting me.

    And it sounds like you are doing a TON of serving! Gosh! You definitely do not need to feel bad about choir and nursery! You are making a real difference in real ways for people who need Christ though you.

    Love the part about not knowing people’s story. We can be so quick to judge.

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    1. Agreed. I have felt guilty more than once to be a “super Christian” and you are right it is between God and us, not what others want us to do. Glad you are able to not be as hard on yourself anymore about this, I’m sure that has helped you a lot.

      The serving I have done has been over the past almost 5 years – so it seems like a lot, but when spread out like that it’s really not. I try hard to make a difference and have enjoyed serving in the different ways around me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for commenting!

  5. This is something I have a hard time with too, especially when I’m pregnant and miserable. But you’re absolutely right. We don’t have to earn God’s favor through service, and our primary area of service is in the home, so if we have to choose, home always comes first. It’s hard though, and it can be hard to accept the season of life that God has us in when we can’t serve the way that we used to.

    1. Yup the pregnancy thing is hard -especially after reading your post yesterday! I was so tired all the time and had a lot of health issues so I stayed home a lot and rested. Being a wife and a mom always should come first, but it’s sometimes hard when we see others juggling it all. Yes, I think acceptance can be hard, but once we do, we will realize that our season to serve in the church will probably come around again. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  6. Kathryn, just your kindness and encouragement are a wonderful example of a servant of Christ! Thanks for such thought-provoking words (your friend, Aprille, too!) 🙂

  7. I understand the point you are making, but as one of the ten percent, there are things others could do. My husband isn’t the pastor nor does he have a paid position at the church, but it seems that almost everyone sits back and says, “Oh, Frank will do it” when there is a need at church. My husband runs the sound equipment, trains those willing to learn, is an usher, picks up people, leads a home Bible Study, and leads the outreaches. When nobody volunteered to clean the church once a month, that got added to the ushers’ responsibilities. He trains people to use the sound board and run the slides for the song service, then they decide not to help. I could go on and on.

    So what could others who have responsibilities do? (As if the ten percent don’t have jobs, families, issues…) Give somebody a ride to church now and then, straighten up the row of chairs where you sit, take a few minutes to straighten up the fellowship area, call to check on somebody, offer to babysit, invite a new family to lunch, make sure the fridge is stocked with water, make a treat to bring to Bible Study, offer to help Sunday School teacher prepare the craft, take out the trash… It’s your church too -why should the ten percent do it all?

  8. I loved this, because I’m in a place in my life where I haven’t been able to serve in a church for awhile either. I loved how you compared this to the story of Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet. Thank you for the encouragement.

  9. I am so excited for your story. You can serve at home for the Lord. ” Little thing is not little things.”
    Thank you

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