Pastor Nicole Jones describes herself as introverted and shy, yet she has a beautiful way of expanding the footprint of ministry in her rural community through natural conversations in ordinary spaces. For her these include grocery store, post office, elementary school and library. What ordinary spaces do you inhabit that could be an expanding arena of ministry through natural conversations?
Jesus isn’t a product to sell. Jesus is a relationship someone we point to. So [ministry is] just being present with those whose faith journeys maybe not ready at the beginning – like prevenient grace kind of beginning. It is just being present with them, hanging out and letting those conversations bubble up naturally rather than forcing the issue.
God is going to make some conversations come up. He’ll bring them up one way or another. Sometimes it takes time and being okay with that makes it easier.
I’m a shy person more of an introvert. I’m more comfortable on the side of the room than in the center of the room. All the typical introverted attributes – that’s me. I’m not somebody who goes into a town or a community and says “Oh goody! Look at all the people I can go out meet.”
It’s very natural in a rural setting to just be present. You go to one grocery store. You’re going to see the same people working there – sometimes for years. [It’s] getting to be a part of the community that way.
Then there’s also just going to the post office and the school system – being part of those places. I know the teachers. We just all know each other because we’re all running in the same circles. It makes it a lot easier in that sense. I know all the people at the library, going to storytime, bringing the kids. They’re making connections that way and it’s really cool.
There are people there that I feel genuine ministry with and for who will never come to the church or very infrequently will come to the church but I’m still in ministry with them. I’m still praying with them. They still are sharing things with me so that’s really cool.