I’m reading Sam Wells’ Incarnational Mission and immediately it resonates with our conversations with our Mission Pilot teams. Wells talks about “being with” as Jesus’primary way of being, and this as the church’s primary way of being in ministry and mission. (This is an companion volume to Incarnational Ministry.) Wells introduces and contrasts four approaches – working for, working with, being for and being with. The contrasts are about attempting to do good things for needy people without necessarily even consulting them – seeing people as objects of our charity, speaking on other people’s behalf without even needing to get involved, organising collective action that includes those being served, and being with people on their own terms and seeing their strengths, not their deficits. The latter, “being with” doesn’t seek to fix people’s problems but delights in them and accompanies them in finding fullness of life.
Wells describes eight aspects of “being with” :
- presence – being in the same physical space
- attention – focused interaction
- mystery – exploring with appreciation (not problem-solving)
- delight – recognition of abundance
- participation – balancing our involvement
- partnership – sharing of gifts
- enjoyment – being with for its own sake
- glory – God being with us in Christ
The book chapters explore what it means to be with a range of people – seekers, those of no professed faith, those of other faiths, neighbours, organisations, etc.
I’m just diving into the book now and will update this when I’ve finished it.
Here’s Sam Wells explaining the four approaches.