Eerdmans, 245 pages
Samuel Wells has developed quite a rich body of theological reflections on the practice of ministry. This is a superb addition to that body. It serves as a companion to his previous writings on the concept of “being with” as central to both pastoral ministry and the Christian faith. This book specifically follows on the insights of his previous books “A Nazareth Manifesto: Being With God” and “Living Without Enemies.” Neither of these books is necessary to read prior to this one, though they would benefit the reader. (Wells has also written a book of reflections about the value of improvisation for the practice of ministry.)
In “Incarnational Ministry,” Wells brings all this rich background together for a beautiful vision of ministry that is funded by prayer, theological depth and authentic presence. In each chapter he explores seven dimensions of “being with” in ministry; each reflects the Trinity in an actual incarnational practice of following Jesus in the world. Few books integrate theological reflection with practical ministry as seamlessly as Wells does in this book. He elucidates a way of living that is fully present to God, self, others and creation. And he does it with accessible language and compelling stories. These are difficult times for congregations and their leaders. It would be a great gift to the church if groups of leaders gathered to study and reflect upon Wells’ work. It’s the real thing.