this actually happens!


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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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51 Responses to 762

  1. Tamara says:


    Just… wow…

  2. Lisa says:

    “And my ministry is to call BS.”

    Funny how many people have a ministry in singing on Sunday (Christian Karaoke, everybody!), but so few have a ministry in changing dirty diapers in the toddler room.

  3. AdR says:

    I know a Franciscan nun living in my neighbourhood who distributes meals for “the elderly” on her bicycle.
    She is 77. When do you become an “elderly” yourself? When you say: that is not my ministry, perhaps.
    Obviously, bringing around food is her ministry anyway.

    I feel a bit uncomfortable about the examples being all attached to females, including mine.

  4. dennis says:

    too right Jon.

  5. Happens to people here in Kenya all the time. We assist the poor in our community and will ask the ones who attend church if they sought assistance there. Almost always the answer is yes, but I was told they don’t have that program.

    Yet the pastor or bishop can afford to drive around in the latest giant SUV.

  6. Catriona says:

    Sad but true.

    At a slight tangent, reminds me of when I was training to be a minister and someone was asked if he would take on the role of Chapel Steward. two days later he told me he’d prayed about it and did not feel he was called to it!!!! However, my year of shifting chairs around proved good training for serving churches in multi-functional buildings and school halls.

  7. Carole says:

    Yes…I’m really interested in where the cutoff is between God’s call on my life and something that I want (what I really, really want!) Maybe God assumes that from time to time we can be trusted to just act on initiative and don’t need a detailed plan of action signed by Him/Her in triplicate.

    Listen to the parable of the dishes: A mother went off to work in a hurry and left a bowl of dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. That evening she came home and they were still there. She said to her teenage child, “Did you not think to wash those dishes instead of leaving them festering in the bowl? You have been home all day, for, verily, ’tis the summer break.” The child responded, “I didn’t know you wanted them washing (!) and you didn’t say.” Aah, how often in the ‘Christian walk’ do we revert into the adolescent children of God?

  8. jonbirch says:

    quite right carole. the kind of down to earth wisdom i’ve come to expect from you. :-)

    johhny brooks @ 5. very sad and disturbing. :-(

    aah… the ol’ ‘i’ll pray about it’ routine. means ‘i’ll procrastinate and then decide that i don’t want to do it.’ :-?

  9. subo says:

    at least the woman in green didn’t say her fellow comunicant was ‘making it up,’

  10. Pat says:

    Carole :-)

    And yes, maybe we need to get out of the ‘God’s specific call to me’ mindset in a much more radical way!

  11. matybigfro says:

    matybigfro’s tips for discerning the call of God

    Question one
    Does the specific command/call you have from God involve sacrifice/risk/pain/loss/discomfort/boring har work/not something you particularly like/being ignored and overlooked (and we’re talking you know risk of death not risk of not going on holiday this year having to cut the budget back while moving to minister in a nice safe middle class suburb) Go

    Question two
    Does the specific command/call you have from God involve being listened to/looked at/respected/admired/certain jobs being beneath you/status/having a PA/being to busy to give poeople what they say they need/want as opposed to what you think they need want, speend 2 months fasting on this one before acting

  12. JanieL says:

    Hi, I’m a new contributor to your comments page, but Jon I love your cartoons. I discovered you recently and have gone back through all your previous ones and they are great. This one has given me the chance to ask you to think about some cartoons on a subject close to my heart – the fact that the massive number of ministries in the church, from moving chairs to pulling together a family service are always done by the SAME FEW PEOPLE!!!!!

  13. JanieL says:

    Oops – pressed the submit button before I was ready!
    I too have come across the response in your cartoon, but the same people seem to be oblivious to the fact that the person they are saying that to is already moving chairs, visiting people in hospital, serving in the church cafe, running the creche, organising the prayer chain etc.. etc…

    Keep up the cartooning – they are challenging but fab!
    Janie L

  14. Will says:

    welcome to the ASBO Family JanieL.

  15. beckyG says:

    7. I still struggle with this – I had a man who ran an amazing ministry to friends without homes help clarify this for me. I told him that my travels as a writer made it difficult for me to volunteer in a ministry like he did on a consistent basis. He said that my ministry was telling the stories of those in the trenches – that made me realize that my ministry isn’t in food delivery but in telling these stories to develop and awareness and hopefully enable some underground ministries to get some much needed funding.

    13. JanieL brings up a valuable point – perhaps this person is already doing too much or is a really lousy gook and is trying in a “passive aggressive” manner to get the other person (who is a gourmet chef) to consider lending her skills. At any rate, the person’s comment as it stands sounds dreadful.

  16. Kayte says:

    I’m with beckyG and JaniL – Churchs can often guilt people into saying ‘yes’ to too much, (and people guilt themselves into it to). I think it’s healthy to know your own limits, know your strengths and not feel guilty for saying ‘no’ to things. But, of course, that needs to be in the context of loving, following and serving Christ first and formost!

  17. Will says:

    i kind of think that this is about those people who can cook but wont do a thing like take food around when it’s needed as they are not on “that rota”.

    This really makes me mad. Just make some extra from tonight’s meal and take it to them. Sod rota’s just do it. There are people with real needs and people with simple ability or if no ability exists phone them up and say what do you fancy, Chinese or Indian or fish and chips. And if you have no skills and no money and the person in need is too proud to ask go to someone with money or ability in the church and ask for them, or ask someone who can ask! It just seems so damn simple. I know that there are always excuses but there are no excuses good enough.

    Rant over :oP

  18. beckyG says:

    I meant to say lay lousy cook not gook. My bad. That was a typo not a slur.

    Kayte – I’ve also lost track of the number of times a church person suggested that the church newsletter needed an editor in a very passive/aggressive manner that made me feel like dirt when I said no (which I always do as I already do too much writing gratis as it is.) Having said that, I am not letting the person in Jon’s cartoon off the hook. The way she conveyed this is not life affirming at all. She is either stating that she sees someone in need but what this person needs isn’t something she wants to do or trying to guilt someone else into doing a ministry.

    Christ didn’t heal everyone who came to his attention – I keep forgetting that sometimes. But he did make sure everyone was loved.

  19. JanieL says:

    Absolutely agree Will (thanks for the welcome by the way!). Rota’s can be the death of genuine, heartfelt service! On a more specific note, when someone has a new baby at our church we have a couple who ring around and get them two weeks worth of meals for when the baby comes home. This is a real blessing to the families involved, and as you say it’s no big deal when you’re cooking shepherd’s pie to make an extra one. I’ve found that a balanced meal that fits in one casserole dish is a blessing to giver and receiver!!!!

  20. beatthedrum says:

    Wew are called to be disciples of jesus first and as “ministers” second.

    Jesus served therefore our first calling is to serve. We are known by our fruits in this serving actions. Thats how people can know we are christians.

  21. beatthedrum says:

    We often as a church provide meals for new mums and their families. One of our guys is a terrible cook… and i mean awful. But he has a serving heart, so what does he do he goes to tesco’s and buys a number of ready meals for them.

    He sees past his inability to cook and see’s the way to bless….

  22. Forrest says:

    Then don’t take food – just go say “Hey, how are you, stopped by to see how you are.”

    There’s all sorts of things that can look like this with who knows what going on underneath the surface.

  23. Robb says:

    What is with all of the “boxes”. I’ll bring you food because I am a “human being”.

    I dislike the word “ministry” intently.

  24. jonbirch says:

    i concur, robb. infact, i stoop to concur. :-)

  25. jonbirch says:

    absolutely, forrest.

  26. Carole says:

    JanieL and BTD – What a brilliant idea. Just what you need when there is a new baby taking up all your time. And as an abominable cook, myself, I felt particularly heartened by your friend, BTD. May also be just the thing for people whose time is taken up visiting loved ones in hospital. You’ve given me great food for thought…if you pardon the pun! :)

  27. Tiggy says:

    Oh very witty pun Jon!

    Look, can I just admit to being lazy?

    And I very much doubt if Jesus took shepherd’s pie round to young couples with newborns.

    I’m more of a Mary than a Martha, I’m afraid. Maybe I just don’t have a strong enough adherence to any church to put the effort in.

  28. cooperton says:

    I’ve got MS and, although I can easily take care of myself now, at times have been dependent on people cooking for me, so I know first hand how much of a blessing that kind of thing can be.

    Despite this, I’m rubbish at doing the same kind of thing when I know other’s have a need. My excuse isn’t because it’s not my ‘ministry’ – it’s simply because I don’t want to make the sacrifice or effort.


    (Cooperton’s husband)

  29. subo says:

    does church give you

    ‘a ministry of funny walks’?,

    or is that MP stuff out of date now?

  30. Robb says:

    Subo – I was shown around Church House on Monday and in hushed tones I asked a colleague if it was unwise to write “of silly walks” in permanent marker underneath the sign marked “ministry”.

    I wonder whet the people who work in an office entitled “ministry” do….

  31. Robb says:

    Ministry isn’t my bag baby…

  32. Clare says:

    haha thanks for posting this one Jon. Made me laugh a lot. Not much to add to the wise comments above apart from to wonder why the word ‘ministry’ is so often used to limit what we can/should/feel called to do as christians, rather than as an expansive word to describe how we love one another…? :-(

  33. Pat says:

    A good question Claire. Maybe it has something to do with our need to feel important, or that we have a specific role in some great plan?

    Unfortunately, I think the word as it is seemingly often used in Christian circles also carries the potential danger that we then see/treat other people as objects rather than subjects…..

  34. Pat says:

    OOps… didn’t spot the superfluous ‘i’ before hitting ‘submit’. Sorry :-(

  35. Will says:

    i have found people using the passage in the bible: Romans 12

    so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his[b]faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

    So my gift is encouraging so i will encourage them to pray for food perhaps the person with the gift of hospitality will hear that prayer and take some food around to them.

    Well tosh and nonsense!

  36. ellie says:

    i wonder if we would look at the cartoon differently if the woman on the left were drawn as a man.

  37. JanieL says:

    At the risk of sounding sexist I really can’t imagine any man I know even thinking about the fact that someone who is ill couldn’t cook and might need a meal taking round. Hospitality type stuff in my experience nearly always falls to the women. Or maybe we just always take over and don’t let the men have their chance?

  38. Tiggy says:

    I remember a story I read as a child about a bunch of fairies (not that kind) who all had their own ministrations. Except that one fairy never seemed to do anything – she just flew around chatting to people all day. The other fairies started to complain about her not doing doing any proper work. They made her do something dull all day until everyone started to miss her cheerful presence so that in the end they relented and decided that her ministry was to fly around all day cheering people up.

    I can’t claim to be that fairy as not always cheerful enough, but I will do some things a lot of people won’t do, like spending hours listening to someone’s problems and always making myself available for that or holding a baby all day and I’m very patient. I did used to do a lot of physical work – cleaning six houses a week at one point – but I don’t have the energy now for medical reasons so most of what I do is brainwork. I’m hoping to have a nannying job in a couple of months though. At the moment I have a cafe ministry.

  39. Robb says:

    Well JanieL I will bear that in mind if you are ever ill :|

    Why do men get such a hard time around here?

    For the record I know plenty of women who wouldn’t give a second thought to anyone who is ill. They would be too busy in the pub falling over drunk and sleeping with the first person who comes along….

    ….therefore ‘all women wouldn’t give a second thought to anyone who is ill. They would be too busy in the pub falling over drunk and sleeping with the first person who comes along’…

    *rolls eyes and goes back to work*

  40. JanieL says:

    Take your point about the drunken women Robb and didn’t mean to come across as ‘anti-men’ – I’m married to an absolute star but he still probably wouldn’t think about the subject in question. Also, the drunken women comment is true of men too, but do you know of a man who has (without being prompted by a woman) realised someone was in need of a meal, bought and cooked the ingredients and delivered it themselves? I’m not saying there hasn’t been one – just I don’t know of one, but maybe that’s because they do it quietly in the background rather than with a fanfare?

    On a completely different aspect of this cartoon, it struck me that one of the issues is that it can be very difficult to say no in church. We may all have valid reasons why we couldn’t do something for someone at a particular time, but we don’t accept excuses as Christians, so we have to resort to our Christian ‘jargon’ to validate our position. Its sad that it is more acceptable to some to hear ‘sorry its not my ministry’ than ‘actually I was up at 3 this morning stripping my 5 year olds wet bed, I didn’t have enough bread to make sandwiches for school lunch and then I had to dash back to school with a forgotten PE kit and ‘Doris’ being ill just slipped my mind!’

  41. jonbirch says:

    me too, robb and janiel… was reluctant to mention it… but in the interests of a firm male defense. :-) bang go my treasures, and i guess now i’ll be given a smaller crown! :-)

  42. beatthedrum says:

    Its strange Janiel coz in my experience it is usuallythe men who want to do it and the women who are reticent.

    Ive just included this picture in my blog as i thought it was a good topic. Thanks Jon


  43. Carole says:

    My Phil probably would, too. I probably wouldn’t…but now I am thinking that maybe I should. :)

  44. Robb says:

    Carole – it’s the thought that counts. You thought Phil would do it :D

    Jon – now we have busted this one we need to do something else secretively!

    I think the deeper issue is not about food. It is how well we care for and serve the people around us. On Dr Ruth’s birthday last week she had her brothers family around. They were all ill and needed a break. She looked after the toddler whilst they slept. That is ‘service’ – providing people with what they need when they need it most!

    For my part I tend to find that this involves me fixing something for someone with spanners and hammers. Of being a perpetual on call IT geek for all and sundry. Although it has involved the occasional home cooked meal.

  45. Of course I wouldn’t say that. I’d say: “I’d cook her a meal but I want her to get better, not worse…”

    On the other hand I’ll take a meal on my bike through the rain if someone cooks it, no worries.

  46. Tiggy says:

    Robb, you’re an IT geek? Brilliant! Just what I need. Will email you.

    Now you’ll wish you’d kept that quiet.

  47. Lewis says:

    Seems to have missed the point that her ministry is a call to love.

  48. Tiggy says:

    Ministrations are just things you do for people. I don’t see the need to call it ‘Ministry’ as though it’s some official role. I don’t think we should hide behind roles.

  49. subo says:

    this conversation has reminded me of a recent experience of being the recipient of ministry, I was standing about in my old church, when the visiting speaker wandered over, and began to chat, his words reached the depths of my self condemnation and a little of the isolation and shame lifted in a moment of shared understanding

  50. Tiggy Sagar says:

    The churches seem to base their set up on the early church, but who’s to say the early church got it right? How they did things might have been totally alien to how Jesus saw things. He seems to have emphasised doing things from the heart and from a more personal way of relating rather than from obligation and role.

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