Rather than leaving it to the social workers and psychologists and other professionals to help the needy and broken, being an ‘Alongsider’, a term coined by our good friend, Mick Duncan, urges a street level revolution in which Christians take the radical step of engaging with strangers, empathising with their pain and connecting with them in their need.
Walking Alongside is an idea that challenges Christian clichés and compartmentalised thinking about people and their circumstance and shallow notions of relationship beyond the initial hug, backslap or handshake at the church door.
It explores the dire need in our churches and communities for Christ-centred believers to engage beyond comfortable and safe friendships and explore a more purposeful and compassionate kind of hospitality with those who struggle, are different or in some way social isolated.
Walking Alongside is about a challenge to step into the gap without any overt agenda other than doing the right thing. It takes practical Christianity to cafes and public places where time, commitment and active listening create an environment where the broken and misunderstood can share their stories without fear of judgement.
Being an Alongsider is different to friendship, counselling, social work or street witnessing, although it may eventually provide an on-ramp for those who decide they too want to walk toward the Christian path. A great way to go deeper as an Alongsider is to get hold of a copy of Mick’s new book, Alongsiders: Sitting with those who sit alone. Visit the SURRENDER:14 bookstall to get your copy, order one from your local bookstore or UNOH Publishing and don’t miss the book launch with Mick, Friday 6pm in the S14 Theatre!