Ministry of Accompaniment

By Rev. Dr. Paul Raybon

I’m continuing to read and reflect on this idea of “resilience” as a metaphor and design for what we do as church. (See here if you missed it.) One of the practical applications, as described to me by Co-Pastor Ernesto Bazan of Iglesia Bautista Kerygma in Holguin, Cuba, was reorganizing deacon ministry around the “ministry of accompaniment.” Instead of dividing all church families among the deacons for deacon family ministry, deacons are trained to be available as needed to walk alongside the most vulnerable members of the church community, and those who enter a time of vulnerability because of a specific crisis. Conveying the gospel message that “you are not alone” becomes as important as solving an immediate need with prayers, supplies, funds, or connecting with resources.

The concept is not new. Missionaries have been using the language of accompaniment for decades to highlight their role as “friend in Christ” rather than “denominational expert”. Ministries with immigrants, imprisoned persons, homeless families, and many other vulnerable populations have adopted this way of describing and modeling their work.

Accompaniment echoes Incarnation, the Emmanuel “God with Us” nature of Christ’s ministry on earth and our inheritance as the Body of Christ. Accompaniment echoes the Road to Emmaus experience as Jesus walked with two disciples suffering from shock and grief and left them with warmed hearts and a story of hope to pass along.

I am intrigued with what this concept might mean for our churches. If resilience strikes a chord for you, I invite you to join me in an ongoing conversation.

These thoughts are from Rev. Dr. Paul Raybon, our partner in ministry in the Western Carolinas, who can help you and your ministry navigate congregational identity, mission, and effectiveness. He is Co-Pastor at Hominy Baptist Church near Asheville, NC and works with churches and leaders as a coach and consultant in communication, visioning, administration, and spiritual formation. Contact him for more information about how he can help you.

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