Just the other day I was lamenting aloud my case of writers block, and while I’m in the midst of working through it, I’m pleased to say one quality about myself I’ve not seemed to have lost upon graduation is my desire to read. I have begun to read Andrew Root’s recent book RELATIONSHIPS UNFILTERED Help for Youth Workers, Volunteers, and Parents on Creating Authentic Relationships. I was privileged enough to receive a complimentary copy of the book a couple weeks back and have just now began my reading of it.
Not even into the first chapter I read these words…
Relational youth ministry should avoid being about influencing kids toward some end (whether that means going to church or youth group, praying a prayer of salvation, attending camp, or avoiding immoral behavior) and should instead seek to follow a God manifested in the person of Jesus Christ, who suffers with us by encountering us in relationship. Relational ministry should be about sharing the place of young people as Jesus Christ shares ours, rather than about influencing them.
Let’s be honest. For some, what Root is proposing here is quite a radical departure from how youth ministry has been perceived, by many in the church, to be supposed to operate. Many of us in youth ministry today still work out of a job description that when boiled down is nothing shy of a contract to “baby sit.” Or putting it a bit less harshly, to influence.
Thankfully however, the trend is shifting and the world of youth ministry (and as such the Church at large) is coming on board with a missional understanding of its role to be a partner with God and his work of redemption within the world. Youth ministry therefore is growing in its discontent to exist solely as a tool of influence in the lives of teens. Rather it’s becoming a Kingdom arm of redemption thrust into the world around.
I’m excited to turn the page and really get into the meat of this book; to discover all that Root has to say on this idea of relational youth ministry practice. I hope to be able to share my thoughts and reflections here.
What do you think… Is youth ministry simply about influencing kids toward positive ends, or is does it exist for something more?