Five reasons why…

… being in ministry is like knitting a sock in public.


  1. When some people see the sock/collar, they come over and want to know what you are doing and why. They ask questions and you get to evangelise about how great knitting/Christianity is and why they should totally join in. Other people look over and think it is just plain weird and avoid any sort of contact
  2. The sock is a UFO – an unfinished object. So is my ministry. (The analogy falls down somewhat here since I hope one day soon to finish the sock, but ministry will carry on for the foreseeable future)
  3. Each individual stitch looks somewhat unimpressive and it is difficult to see how it fits into the bigger picture, but it is essential for how things turn out. Each individual encounter with another person, even if only passing on the street, contributes to building up relationships that may be essential in the future.
  4. You need 5 needles to make a sock. Each needle will be used at some point for knitting, but at other times will be just holding stitches or even back in the needle case. You need a variety of skills to be in ministry (e.g. sermon writing, listening, praying, leading, practical stuff), but you don’t use all of them all the time.
  5. This sock has been designed by cobbling together ideas from various different books – it may turn out the way I intended, or it may end up different. In either case it will be complex and useful. This ministry has been planned by cobbling together ideas from various different books – it may turn out the way I intended, or it may end up different. By its nature, ministry is complex. I hope I will be useful to those around me.

So, a simile stretched to breaking point there. What do you think?

With thanks to my IME group for the inspiration for this post. IME is basically the compulsory training for curates in the first 4 years after ordination. We were told to bring something representative of our ministry – I had forgotten to prepare, but took my knitting along, thinking I could probably come up with something.

4 thoughts on “Five reasons why…

  1. Oh, I think there’s plenty of scope for expanding this theme into a full-blown sermon… and if not for church, then certainly for the Mothers’ Union.

    I’m no knitter but I’m sure you could get some mileage out of: casting on/off, dropping stitches, telling a good yarn (geddit?), patterns, different stitches (cf the seed that fell on good/stony/barren/weedy ground).

    If the cap fits, wear it.

  2. Kerensa, it’s a sock, not a cap. Farli may get more than a few strange looks if she starts wearing a sock on her head while preaching 😉

    I love the analogy. The stitches are so like the church – a single stitch may not look like much, but every single stitch in there is vital in keeping the thing together – its neighbours rely on it.

    The only thing with those needles with a point at each end is that you very quickly have to get out of the bad habit of pressing the needle against your chest to move the stitches further along. Here speaketh the voice of experience. Not sure that the analogy stretches to cover that, though.

  3. Excellent analogy! I have also discovered that knitting on the train and reading the Church Times on the train cause exactly the same reaction in people – guaranteed free seats around you in rush hour!

  4. hi farli,
    i really liked your post! never would have compared the two in such an analogy, but you did it beautifully…and now i understand a bit more : )

    5 needles are needed, but they’re not all used at the same time… each stitch is part of a bigger picture/project… mmm, i’ll be thinking about the small role people/things play in the Big Picture on my morning commute to work this morning. thanks farli!

    p.s. keresna’s ‘good yarn’ made me giggle

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