Ministry Through a Garage Sale?

 “min·is·try” noun 1. the work or vocation of a minister of religion.”he is training for the ministry”


So often, this seems to be the working definition of “ministry” within the minds of people, even in the body of believers. “Ministry” is from the Greek word diakoneo, meaning “to serve” or douleuo, meaning “to serve as a slave” and for those who claim to follow after Jesus, He seems to lay it out there for all us to minister not only one to another, but to everyone around us. But what does that look like? Is it possible that holding a “garage sale” is an act of ministry? In short…yes!


If I had the energy right now, I’d love to go down the list of all the stories from this past few days which I could remember. Over and over again God seemed to show up in little and not so little ways. However, my fingers are still strained from lifting/sorting/carrying/lifting again, tying to someone’s car, and getting every ounce of moisture seemingly sucked from my body in the 90+ degree temperatures that we were blessed with…so I’m going to hold onto a few and share only a snapshot here.


One of the greatest aspects of hosting a garage sale in which all the merchandise is donated is that it doesn’t cost us anything aside from storage/movement of said items. So when someone is coming to shop garage sales because they are moving into (or have just moved into) their first apartment and are trying to furnish this while on a super tight budget because they are also a single mom, going to school, and working…well, you get the idea. When you see a person like this looking at their wallet, then back at a kitchen item and then at what they already have in their hands and “you can see the wheels turning” as the expression goes. “Do I have enough to get this stuff and still make rent/food/diapers/etc.?” It isn’t hard to read this situation. So the conversation begins…”How are you today?” And the Spirit leads from there. A conversation about what all this is going towards, yes we are a faith based Christian organization…becomes “so tell me a bit about you…” And where it leads to is giving her as much of what she needed for less than she was planning to spend…


Oh I know, you are suddenly asking yourself, “Shouldn’t a Christian organization just give it to them?” Great question! And the easy answer is “yes and no.”


Sometimes, giving something away does more damage to the person than helping out with their purchase…in the story above, this young woman didn’t want to be a “charity case” but was trying to take care of herself and her child. She was glad of the “deal” but honestly would have rather put everything back than have been given the load.


Now there were others though…who came in without almost nothing at all to spend…they were without permanent housing and whatever we could throw in was a blessing. But even in this type of situation, they were looking for more than just “stuff” to make their life better. They were coming to seek connection, conversation, and a chance to be a part of the human race. For some, walking into a “regular” store is a difficult and pain-filled experience. But a garage sale is open to everyone! So being able to spend the time talking to those who were “shopping” for connection was a tremendous thing. When Jesus said to feed those who were hungry, it may be they were hungry for more than just food for their stomachs, there are those who hungry for food for their hearts.


Serving those outside the “body of Christ” is important, most definitely, but it is not all we are called to serve. Serving one another, or as Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35) is every bit as important and a sale is also a place to care for your volunteers, to hear their stories, to better understand their hearts and to connect.  I have long advocated for churches to have garage sales not for the funds that contribute to whatever ministry, but for the ministry which happens within the team. Yes, it is very, very hard work and at the same time, it is so good to share the load with others and have the comradery, story, and laughter.


There is so much more…youth who were able to earn camp monies by serving, all those who came and donated product which was from their parents houses whom were either aging or recently deceased and the sharing of the grieving process was a part of the transaction. The ability for the left over merchandise to go to homeless shelters or other non-profits, the chance to hear from the community how much they enjoyed coming, all demonstrate the benefit and the ministry of a garage sale.


So as my hands are telling me they are about done in I will end here.


Thanks be to our God in heaven for providing so well, thanks to all those who volunteered, and may God continue to be glorified in the simple things of life…even a garage sale! Amen.


Len Bundy