The Ministry of Ordinary Places: Nonfiction Review


This book was a sweet reminder of things that have resonated in my heart and mind for a long time. I began a journey to really appreciating the ministry of hospitality when I read, Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist a few years ago. My love for the kitchen, passion for hosting people, and intense drive as an inviter and includer was summed up in the pages of the book.

Now just a few years later I found The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin perfectly timed. We know that life has it seasons and during a time of huge transition a ministry of hospitality has looked different. I needed to hear Martin’s words, “we are better off when there is no time to sweat the details..”

Raising small kiddos, selling two homes, transitioning to a new home and lifestyle, and each phase of our lives that this past season has held has sometimes left us feeling discombobulated, nor ourselves, even frustrated. Benjamin and I sat down togethert just the other night and found ourselves putting words to these feelings and this time of transition. We realized that we needed to give ourselves grace. We needed to be patient with ourselves. But we also still need to be true to who God made each of us to be and the ministries he has called us each to.

Martin said this,

Sometimes I offer hospitality as worship more often it’s wrenched from my hands by a God who wants me near and knows I need an nudge.

Seeing the ordinary places as hospitality and ultimately worship has been a game-changer. When I take my kiddos to a family night at school; say yes to a friend, who the evening before declares she’s popping by, not knowing my dishes are undone, dining table sticky with syrup and our seats on the couch covered in laundry; or when the neighbor boy stays into evening playing with my boys… I am walking through open doors and saying yes to His nudges.

Yes there are missed opportunities and as Martin says,

We keep screwing things up, but the point was never perfection it was community. Sharing a messy life in slips and in shards.

My heart is disappointed and often screams when I screw things up, but in the messy imperfections that is sharing real life. When I lean in after feelings are hurt, make dinner stretch even when the budget doesn’t allow, or say I’m sorry when it matters; community is being built and life is then ministry.

The way we spend our love is the way we spend our lives.

Martin endears you to herself, so eloquently shares her heart and lessons learned by doing ministry in the ordinary places. She shares through hard lessons, and sweet moments that will keep you reading and underlining like crazy. I walked away with so many nuggets, but was particularly struck when Martin shared this quote from mother Teresa,

“If you want to bring happiness to the whole world go home and love your family.” -Mother Teresa

Martin goes on to expound, “but let us not forget this is the same Mother Teresa who reminded us to draw a wider circle of who we considered family.”

I left feeling inspired to expand our circle, leaning in to those he places in our paths, and not overlook the small moments served up to us on a platter.

Whether you are seeking some inspiration, feeling a little discouraged in your current mundane life, or wondering about our purposes especially during long days of mothering, I encourage you to pick up the book. It’s a great one to share with a friend over coffee. I’ll leave you with this final thought from Martin.

Wherever you are you have been planted there with purpose jam your flag into the hard packed soil and claim it. Not for what it is, but for what it will soon be.

Thanks to Booklook Bloggers for my copy of the book, all thoughts are my own.

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1 Comment

  1. Having read this I thought it was very enlightening.
    I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this information together.

    I once again find myself spending a significant amount of time
    both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

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