We do not usually do book reviews around here, but every once in a while, an extraordinary book comes along well worth a mention. Because The Shack so vividly explains who God is through his relationship with the book's main character, it is actually (though you might not think so at first) an excellent book to develop our skills of incarnational ministry.
So, first I ask: What is the essence of incarnational ministry? Our pleasure as Christians is to honor Jesus by joining in the world around us, to be a light in that darkness, so that other may know who he is and what he has done to redeem them from their sin. That may not sound like an answer to that particular question, but what is important is what is not in the answer.
There is nothing in there about religion, evangelism, pews, buildings, organs, Easter dresses, Santa Claus, paid pastors, or any of the other Christian culture habits we tend to accidentally communicate to those who do not yet know Jesus. A developed relationship with Jesus will help us distinguish between all those cultural trappings and the person of Jesus, which would allow us to be incarnational at all times, whether in another country or just to the "unique culture" of that guy who works next to us.
Though a little wordy, that is one of the many reasons The Shack is such an excellent novel. God is depicted a little differently than we are used to, but it is a book of revelation, God making himself known.
If after reading you still do not see the connection to incarnational ministry, don't worry. That is just another catch word anyway. If The Shack develops how you see God and relate with him, you will open up to Jesus's continued incarnation in your own life, and the world will see him all the better through you. So, job done, anyway.
Give it a read and tell us what you think below.