Ministry with the Marginalized

Editor's Note: The following originally appeard on John Flowers's blog, Church for Tomorrow, on April 26, 2014 and has been reposted with permission. For more by John Flowers, check out any of his three books, Not Just a One-Night Stand: Ministry with the Homeless (2009), 10 Temptations of Church: Why Churches Decline and What to Do About It (2012), and Adapt to Thrive (2014).

We all know our calling to ministry with the marginalized but few persons can name marginalized people in their area. In the book Not Just a One Night Stand; Ministry With the Homeless, Karen and I have tried to keep it simple. On page 63 we offer this list of marginalized people ready for the love of Christ through the local church;

immigrants, those who suffer from mental illness, chronic street people, situationally homeless, those who suffer from chemical abuse, those who suffer from alcohol abuse, those who have been in prison

divorced persons, single parents , children who have been sexually abused, children in special education classes

African Americans, Latinos Americans, Muslims, those persons confined to a wheelchair or some other disabilities

sex workers, high school dropouts, minimum wage earners, those who are addicted to gambling, Jewish Americans, mixed race persons, gays, lesbians, bi-sexual persons, transgendered, transsexuals

persons who suffer with hunger, persons who are poor, women and men who have been physically or emotionally abused.

People on this list live right around the corner from our churches. We need to simply open our eyes to the human beings directly in front of us.

One small town congregation took this list, added more possibilities and then got down to some serious praying, convinced that God would answer their prayers for guidance. As a result, this congregation, filled with young families, saw an assisted living home close to them and began a ministry with the residents. Life in that assisted living home was transformed and life for the members of that small church was transformed.

In 2014 what ministry with the marginalized will your church undertake?



John Flowers

John Flowers loves ministry with the poor, watching “dry bones breathe,” teaching, mentoring, and coaching congregations. He was the 2005 graduate of the year award winner for St. Paul seminary who recognized his work in social justice. He thinks and acts outside of the box, and pushes boundaries.  He can be contacted at

About This Blog

Read and comment on a range of personal reflections and perspectives about poverty and Ministry with the Poor. Our goal is to attract diverse voices and points of view from United Methodists and friends, including people and communities living in conditions of poverty, other experts, religious leaders, community organizers, advocates, policy makers, volunteers, and all engaged in Ministry with the Poor.