From influence to incarnation

Ministries grounded in a theology of separation tend to conceptualize ministry as a means to influence people toward a particular goal. For example, youth ministry is seen as developing relationships with teens in order to influence them toward Jesus and his lifestyle. Ministry strategies and programs are means to develop and leverage such relationships. Thus youth ministry is often referred to as "relational youth ministry."

The same can be said about all sorts of ministries.

While I applaud the move to ministries that are more relational than the ones they replaced, I suggest that there is a better way - ministry that is grounded in and flows from a trinitarian theology of incarnation. Call it incarnational ministry

At first blush, this may seem no different than relational ministry (isn't the incarnation about relationship?). But if we look deeper, we see that the relational ministry model is about using relationships as means to other ends.  In contrast, an incarnational ministry model is based on the truth that Jesus is already in relationship with us all (and we with one another in and through him). Thus relationship is not a means to some other end. It is the end in itself.

Andrew Root, makes this point in, "Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry." Here is a quote:
I seek [in this book, to call] us beyond seeing relationships as tools for influence and into seeing the beautiful inner reality of relationships as the invitation to share each other's place, to be with each other in both joy and suffering, and in so doing to witness to Christ among us (p. 10).
Notice that the goal of ministry is to share one another's "place" and in doing so to "witness to Christ among us."  The goal is not to *create* a relationship, but to *participate* in one that already exists - not as a means to another end, but as a way to celebrate the relationship of Christ with all humanity for the end that it constitutes in itself.  Root continues: not about "using" relationships to get individuals to accept a "third" thing, whether that be conservative politics, moral behaviors or even the gospel message. Rather, ministry is about connection, one to another, about sharing in suffering and joy, about persons meeting persons with no pretense or secret motives. It is about shared life, confessing Christ not outside the relationship but within it. This I learned, was living the gospel (p. 15).
 What do you think?