Missional Auto Repair

July 3, 2004

[Jesus car]The security system in my car has been fritzed ever since my accident; the dumb thing would go off just sitting there, with no one touching it. I had to leave it unlocked at all times to avoid being a nuisance — not exactly what a security system is meant to accomplish.

So we took my car to our local favorite auto shop, Long’s Auto Repair. Long and his employees are mostly all Vietnamese (they recently hired a token whitey) who do excellent work. Long’s first crack at my security system didn’t work, so we took it back. Today I went to pick it up. And while I stood there waiting, this is what I saw:

A young fellow who looked like Long’s son interacted with everybody who came. It didn’t matter if they came for repairs or just to get gas. It didn’t matter if they were white, black, or asian. It didn’t matter if they were regulars or just passing through. He went over and started talking with each person, smiling, laughing, and having fun. Long’s Auto Repair is a social center of the neighborhood. I spoke with one guy who was clearly a regular; he said, “Long’s a friend. He treats me right.”

I watched, amazed. Then the thought struck me:

What if an enterprising follower of Jesus started a gas stand & auto repair shop as a missional venture, a mission outpost? Why not? It would look a lot like what I saw today. Why do missionaries have to look so, well, churchy? Why not recognize that God may be calling somebody to be an auto mechanic for the sake of the kingdom of God? In the eyes of normal, unchurched people, it would serve a legitimate purpose in the neighborhood, as opposed to churchy churches — dare I say that? And where is the church, or community of faith, that would be willing to recognize such an auto mechanic as a missionary, support him or her in this effort, and partner together?

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

10 responses to Missional Auto Repair

  1. i know http://www.hansoncarter.com a vineyard pastor expiriments with this as does another blogger… totally spaced who it is, but we tried that at the vineyard in mission viejo… (litigation central) not on the vineyards end, but on the patrons who brought thier cars, it got to be a huge liability for us, because so many were bringing in their cars, and were worried that we would mess them up.
    the original plan was for “WIN” widows in need, which usually got extended to women in need, because their were a lot of single moms we serviced. ed piorek was a stud… he paid me for a summer to go around and give tune-ups to all these moms who had gotten burnt by their eX’s and were driving total beaters. we got more positive feedback from that summer alone than in a long time. it was a really practical ministry… if you guys can pull it off, you’ll be heroes to at least %50 of the gene pool… great idea
    btw, i noticed you givin rains shit about no xml, he uses manilla and although he doesn’t necessarilly know it… he has xml through manilla
    its http://www.whateverthesite.com/xml/rss.xmla so rains is http://www.kevinrains.com/xml/rss.xml
    great post…

  2. Eric, thanks for giving me Rains’s RSS feed… another one down!
    And I always dig your stories.

  3. Speaking of single moms driving total beaters, once upon a time when money was even tighter I was driving a ’72 VW Bug. A mechanic across the street from my house fixed the important broken stuff over the two years I had the car, charging me less than he should’ve, and fixed small broken stuff without charging for it or even saying anything. His name is Glen and the sign at his garage at 5833 Winfield Blvd. in San Jose says “Glen’s VW Repair And Ministry”. To me that sign was backwards and I hope it still is. God bless you, Glen.

  4. Ed Silvoso (who goes to my church) wrote a book called “Anointed for Business” which presents a narrative of integrating what he calls “pulpit ministry” with “marketplace ministry”. This isn’t so much about starting businesses as a means of doing evangelism, as it is about embracing and honoring God’s call to people to work as Kingdom servants wherever they find themselves. He says that uniting these two necessary ministries together brings about transformation of the marketplace. Followup at:

  5. What an awesome thought! There should be one of those in every city! Real ministry – helping to meet people’s physical and perhaps even emotional needs (since the community would “hang out” there) and then when the opportunity arises, be able to meet their spiritual needs as well.
    What a great idea!

  6. I’m beginning to think Dave (J.)’s idea of a hotdog stand or a coffee shop might be a grand idea. 😉

  7. Christy, if this idea strikes you, you owe it to yourself to read The Shaping of Things to Come, which sparked this thought to begin with. One person who is actually doing what the book describes is Karen Ward, who just set up a “tea bar, net lounge, art space and crash palace” called living:room.
    Kreek’t, when did Dave mention a hotdog stand or coffee shop? I missed that one, and want to hear more!

  8. This fits in nicely with Steve Collins’ writing about the potential for church to be a “Third Space.” (smallritual.org – his menus are cascade cleverly down the left. All are good; the “Third Space” section is most relevent.)

  9. Your thoughts are really something that all drivers must think of. I think it is about time that we recognize the presence of God in different fields of our work. we all need His guidance.

  10. I think we’d all do well not just to work honorably, but as you say, to recognize the presence of God. And then take it a step further, and ask how he’d like us to engage in his mission in our different fields.