Jacques Ellul offers a profound insight about how we, as Christians, are to adopt as a priority an Incarnational approach to ministry. Incarnational ministry literally means: In the flesh. It means going where people are, and understanding their real situations, rather than primarily trying to draw them to us with various forms of entertainment and shallow promises. The Incarnational approach allows us to infiltrate the cultures of the world, and the sub-cultures of our community, to become agents of transformation.
Reflect for a little while about what Ellul writes:
The will of the world is always a will to death, a will to suicide. We must not accept this suicide, and we must so act that it cannot take place. So we must know what is the actual form of the world’s will to suicide in order that we may oppose it, in order that we might know how, and in what direction, we ought to direct our efforts.
The world is neither capable of preserving itself, nor is it capable of finding remedies for its spiritual situation (which control the rest). It carries the weight of sin, it is the realm of Satan which leads it towards separation from God, and consequently towards death. That is all it is able to do.
Thus it is not for us to construct the City of God, to build up an “order of God” within this world, without taking any notice of its suicidal tendencies. Our concern should be to place oursleves at the very point where this suicidal desire is most active, in the actual form it adopts, and to see how God’s will of preservation can act in this given situation.
If we want to avoid being completely abstract, we are then obliged to understand the depth, and the spiritual reality of the moral tendency of this world; It is to this that we ought to direct all our efforts, and not to the false problems which the world raises, or to an unfortunate application of an “order of God” which has become abstract… Thus it is always by placing himself at this point of contact that the Christian can be truly “present” in the world, and can carry on effective social or political work, by the grace of God.
~ from The Presence of the Kingdom