1. Everydayness – a concept conquers the academic world

In recent years, academic discussion in the social sciences has focused strongly on the concept of the ordinariness of human existence. In this context, everydayness is understood to be a “common, everyday occurrence characterized by nothing extraordinary” or even an “everyday process.”[2]  Even more, it is a state in which what is experienced every day as something special no longer represents anything special.[3]  Everydayness is, therefore, that which naturally belongs to everyday life, to life per se. It does not have to be conjured up or brought about by special achievements. Everydayness is simply a part of life. The term was thus introduced into the discussion by the German philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976). For him, everydayness stands for a fundamental way of being.[4]

One can understand why the social sciences have their interest in everydayness. They are, by their research concerns, markedly interested in the shaping of human existence, that is, precisely in the dynamics of everyday life in the center of which everydayness lies and can essentially shape it. Thus, for example, what is everyday is easy to manage and relatively easy to shape.

A century ago, the Austrian national economist and politician Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950) claimed that everydayness does not require special management.[5]  He used his insight to encourage business to give their products an image of essentially belonging to the societal everyday life, creating some kind of self-evidence of belonging to the very daily experience of the potential cleints , which would minimize the expensive expenditure on advertising. What is taken for granted as part of everyday life is also bought by people as a matter of course. This is a principle that can also be applied to the shaping of politics in society.

The general acceptance of the everydayness as belonging to the life makes the attraction of the everydayness. It makes up our life without, however, having to be brought into life by us.

Of course, everydayness must be recognized, seen and named. Simple examples illustrate what has been said. In most cultures of the world it is an everyday rule – water is drunk from a jug, glass, cup and similar containers. And that is why you can find them in every household. Admittedly, drinking from a container was not always as natural as it is today. And there are still cultures that manage without containers, admittedly with considerable loss of water. Similarly commonplace is our clothing, our need for a roof over our heads, and so on. All this people have discovered one day for the first time, were taken by it and today these objects, procedures and attitudes are absolutely natural and belong to and facilitate life.

But it is not only objects that are commonplace. Human beings are communal beings and interpersonal communication is one of the commonplaces of life. We like to share and listen, and we like to play, and we are curious and always looking for the latest news. And who doesn’t like to look at pictures from their last trip?

Telecommunication companies cleverly use these everyday occurrences to introduce the smart phone as an instrument for communication, playing games and obtaining information from the Internet, as a natural part of life. It serves people’s need for communication, offers games and is an excellent source of information. And the modern smart phone can do much more. No wonder most people today can hardly imagine life without a cell phone.

Admittedly, with the cell phone, people not only change the way they communicate, play games or get the latest news. Today, the cell phone turns our behavior upside down in several ways. What should serve the communication, makes man increasingly lonely and isolates us from the community with others, makes addicted and sick.  It is part of our everyday life, but this has long since ceased to be what it once was.[6]

As the example of the cell phone shows, everydayness of life can be instrumentalized in order to significantly shape, even change, human existence.

2. Changing the world

Christians, as followers of Jesus, are called to go into all the world and make disciples of Jesus to all nations. To his disciples Jesus said, “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt. 28:19-20). Followers of Jesus are to transform the respective ethnos in such a way that it reflects what Jesus considers to be right. The Greek term ethnos stands here for a people in its socio-cultural space, for a community, including its lived culture and ideology.[7]  At the heart of such a space are those everyday things that make up its cultural and ideological distinctiveness. Winning the people in this space for Jesus and convincing them to live as it is customary under the reign of God, then, is the mission.

How this mission can be lived is decided in mission theory, the theory that describes the strategy and practice of the mission of Christians in the world. If the mission of Christians is about the transformation of the ethnos, that is, about changing and shaping the everyday life, according to the precepts of the Gospel, then the theory of the change of existence, by including the everyday life, becomes interesting also for the mission theory. It makes sense to ask oneself to what extent everydayness is also present in the realm of spiritual life and how this, once recognized, can qualitatively change people’s religious existence.

In cultural anthropology, one assumes today that religion is an essential part of every culture. There is no such thing as a religion-free culture.[8]  People seek to make sense of questions, longings, and experiences that lie outside their normal perceptions. And their common response to such transcendent sensations forms religious belief, which then finds expression in ritual and ethics.[9]  And once established, such rites and norms soon become self-evident settings in the given culture. In other words, they become everyday occurrences, everdayness.

Thus the mission theorist is well advised to understand religious-cultural everydaynesses and then to set transformative-missionary alternatives along such settings. Similar to the example with the cell phone, old attitudes are replaced by new ones. Change takes place and the new spreads without immediately encountering bitter resistance from society.

3. The Holy Spirit changes everything

How such a thing works can be studied in post-Pentecostal Jerusalem. It was a natural part of everyday life for religious Jews to go to the temple, make sacrifices, and expect that God, in whom they believed, would bless them and enrich their lives. The temple as an accepted and believed dwelling place of God was a religious commonplace.

And the first Christians did not override this religious custom of the Jews. Just the opposite, Peter and John, Luke reports in Acts 3:1ff, went to the temple in the hour of prayer, as was their custom. And here at the beautiful gate of the temple they came upon a beggar who used to sit there. For alms beggars were also part of the commonplace of the temple cult in Jerusalem. And the two apostles do not simply pass by the beggar either. What they do, they bring into this habitual everyday life a sought-after fulfillment of the longing that was connected both with the temple visit and with the begging at the Beautiful Gate: the lame man becomes healthy and is now allowed to visit the temple himself, and the Jewish visitors all become witnesses of a healing miracle. The result is the turning of 5000 people to Jesus.

So, the early church in Jerusalem knew the religious and material everyday life of their contemporaries. They did not debate them critically, but opened themselves to God’s guidance to fulfill the longings behind the religious settings. Acts 2:43-47 states:

“All were seized with fear; and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were in the same place and had everything in common. 45 They sold possessions and goods, and divided of them to all, to each as much as he had need. 46 Day after day they tarried with one accord in the temple, breaking bread in their houses, and feasting together in joy and singleness of heart. 47 They praised God and found favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their fellowship daily those who were to be saved.”

What did the early Christians do? They had daily fellowship with one another, visiting the temple, holding meals with one another in their homes, sharing their possessions with those in need, and experiencing how the Lord daily brought people into their fellowship. They celebrated God manifested in the form of the Holy Spirit in their midst and experienced masses of people turning to their Lord. The work of the Holy Spirit thus became a new commonplace, and the attachment to old everyday religious longings of the Jerusalemites caused favor with the Jews and aroused their interest. Thousands of them thus found their way to personal faith and joined the young community.

Of course, this was not always the case with them. The ordinariness of God’s presence in their lives came only with the coming of the Holy Spirit. Before that, they hid from the Jews out of fear. The arrival of the Spirit of God gave them unexpected power and radically changed their everyday life. Just as the resurrected Jesus had promised them. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8).

In the Holy Spirit, God became always, that is, everyday, accessible to Jesus’ followers. Impressively, Jesus confirms to His disciples when He takes leave of them in His Great Commission in Mt. 28:19-20: “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations … and behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” Jesus promises to be there forever even in our everyday lives and that through His Holy Spirit.” Nothing should be so self-evident for a Christian as the presence of their Lord in their everyday life!!! God with us – an everyday occurrence. What could be greater than that?

Admittedly, His presence is formally established. He is among us in His Body, the Church of Jesus. It is organized as a somatic structure, consisting of members, each of which is destined to fulfill very specific functions. Just as there is a hand to grasp and carry, a leg to move the body, an eye to discern the way, and a tongue to make itself heard, so, the apostle Paul tells us, one member is endowed with the gift of knowledge, another with the gift of wisdom, and yet another with the gift of evangelism or discernment of spirits (1 Cor. 12:1-12). The gifts define ministries. As a result, all people can be ministered to (1Cor 12:4-6) and the church itself begins to grow (Eph 4:16).

We note that the issue of enabling the transformation of everyday life by the power of the gospel is obviously directly related to the presence of the Holy Spirit. He is the one who creates the connection to the everydayness of existence in the respective cultural and social space, satisfies people’s visual desires and works the interest for God’s activity. But the performers are people who follow their Lord Jesus and experience his presence in everyday life.

4. Everyday-centered mission work – what needs to be considered?

For mission theory, the following insights can be drawn from what has been presented.

First, Christian mission aims at the transformation of the people through the conversion of individuals to Jesus, bringing about a radical change in their everyday lives. “If anyone is in Christ,” notes Apostle Paul, “he is a new creature. The old has passed away, new things are coming into being” (2 Cor. 5:17). Only in this way can people “become the righteousness that counts before God” (2 Cor. 5:21). And this mission starts in the everyday life of people. It turns to the everyday life of the living space of its target group, understands the longings of the people and brings fulfillment into their lives. Not Sunday, everyday life is the primary field of mission.

Second, the religious settings of a culture offer great opportunities for missionary transformation. It is that Common Ground of human search for meaning in all existence that sometimes has astonishing commonalities. The German missiologist Peter Beyerhaus even spoke of a theonomic and anthropological principle in the religions.[10]  And along such everydaynesses worked by God himself or also by man, both the faith conversation and evangelistic proclamation are possible. Of course, Beyerhaus also speaks of the demonological dimension of religions. Therefore, one will have to distinguish where missionary dialogue can be sought, even should be mandatory, and where it should be avoided.[11]

Third, all religions intrude into the everyday life of people through established rites and ethical principles formulated by the community of believers. As everyday aspects of the construct of faith, they are meant to strengthen the believer in his or her search for meaning. If such support does not take place, crises of faith occur. Along such breaking points, Christian faith can and should offer answers and enable the fulfillment of religious longings. Rites such as prayer times, purification rituals, veneration and worship all aim at results of action, which, however, remain absent when traditionally solidified into mere ritual. Then the encounter with the Christian alternative can bring about a turnaround in life. Countless Muslims today report the great surprise that the encounter with praying Christians has brought them. And effective prayer has ultimately convinced them to seek Jesus as their Lord and to follow him.

And finally, it is the presence of the Holy Spirit that sets such transformation in motion. He works signs and wonders through Christians who place themselves completely under His control. In the midst of religious space that seeks God and honors Him, but knows neither His true face nor His ways of working. As in the case with the Jews in Jerusalem, powerful manifestations of his presence can occur in many places and change the ordinariness that is set in life but does not transform it. And as a result, a new ordinariness moves into the everyday life of those affected – God’s presence.


[1] Dr. Johannes Reimer is Prof. Emeritus for Mission Studies at the Theologische Hochschule Ewersbach, Germany und Professor Extraordinarius for Missiology and Interkulturell Theology at dethe University of South Africa (UNISA) as well as Director of the Department of Public Engagement of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA). He has published extensively on issues of Mission and Evangelism.

[2]  https://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/Alltaeglichkeit.

[3] https://www.wortbedeutung.info/Alltäglichkeit/.

[4] Martin Heidegger: Sein und Zeit. (Tübingen: Max Niemeier Verlag 2001), 371.

[5] Schumpeter, Joseph: Theorie der wirtschaftlichen Entwicklung. (Berlin: Duncker u. Humblot 1997 [1912]), 115.

[6] See more in: Caroline Mascher: Handy-Konsum: Wie er Gehirn und Leben verändert. In: Fokus Business, 10.06.2021, https://focusbusiness.de/magazin/handy-konsum-wie-er-gehirn-und-leben-veraendert (28.10.2022).

[7] Johannes Reimer: Die Welt umarmen. Theologie des gesellschaftsrelevanten Gemeindebaus. 2. Aufl. (Marburg: Francke Verlag 2013), 206.

[8] Gary Ferraro: Cultural anthropology: an applied perspective. (Independence: Centage Learning1998), 18.

[9] Theo Sundermeier: Was ist Religion? Religionsgemeinschaft im theologischen Kontext. (Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus 1999), 27.

[10] Peter Beyerhaus: Zur Theologie der Religionen im Protestantismus. In: Kerygma und Dogma 15/1969), 100-104; Johannes Reimer: Evangelisation im Interreligiösen Raum. (Marburg: Francke Verlag 2015), 53-58.

[11] Reimer: Evangelisation, 60-63.