On this week’s episode of the “You’re Invited” podcast, we interviewed Shannan Martin, author of Falling Free and The Ministry of Ordinary Places. In reading her new book, The Ministry of Ordinary Places, and speaking with her and re-listening to the episode, I’m struck again by the power of the word “ordinary”.

Aren’t we all in ordinary places all the time? And what is so ministerial about them? Well, at the outset – nothing.

Ordinary places like our neighborhoods.

Ordinary places like the grocery store. Target. The mall.

Ordinary places like going to work. Baseball practice.

Ordinary places like taking kids to school, volunteering in the library, sitting in a waiting room.

Are all those places ordinary? I argue yes. Are all those places ministerial? I argue yes.

We live in a world that screams EXTRAORDINARY. Go big. Go bold. Do more. Keep up with the Joneses. Buy new things. Move to “the” house in “the” neighborhood, driving “the” kind of car.

But what if it isn’t about any of that? What if Martin is right? What if it isn’t about going bigger, going extraordinary, or going anywhere? What if it is about growing right where we are planted (Jeremiah 29:5), showing up for the next right thing, and sticking around when things get hard?

Martin writes, “The loudest revolutions often begin so quietly, so unassumingly near the ground that most don’t bother to notice. I won’t speak for you, but surrounded by cynics, worrywarts, doomsday prophets, and Facebook apologists with their lofty solutions, I’d rather be a hope-holder with mud on my shoes… I want to be someone who clings to the gift and the good.”

I’d rather be a hope-holder with mud on my shoes. You should read that again. I’d rather be a hope holder with mud on my shoes.

People with mud on their shoes aren’t walking the red carpet. They aren’t walking through Buckingham Palace. People with mud on their shoes were probably in the backyard tossing a football, or walking the dog down the street, or traipsing through the yard to go say hey to a neighbor.  

The ministry of ordinary places starts with a heart posture that remembers we were once ministered to in the most ordinary of places – our own hearts. We remember that the Gospel goes first to us, and second through us. Therefore, we can go into the ordinary places as hope holders.

This idea is a remembrance of the Great Commission.

A reminder that we are all called to go on mission into the spheres around us.

We are all called to grow where we are planted.

And we are all called to the people around us – however, ordinary we all are.

Though the the places are ordinary, we serve an extraordinary God who longs to use ordinary people in ordinary places to bring heaven to earth.