- Paperback: 221 pages
- Publisher: IVP Books; 1st Paperback Edition edition (October 8, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0830834885
- ISBN-13: 978-0830834884
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 19 customer reviews
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#295,324 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #208 in Youth Christian Ministry
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Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry: From a Strategy of Influence to a Theology of Incarnation Paperback – October 8, 2007
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"Maybe You Should Talk to Someone" by Lori Gottlieb
"This is a daring, delightful, and transformative book." ―Arianna Huffington, Founder, Huffington Post Learn more
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"Andrew Root combines biblical studies, history, sociology and theology in a well-researched mix that, I hope, will drive our youth ministry thought and practice. In a day and age when every youth ministry practitioner owes it to the One who first modeled incarnational ministry and to the kids we serve to be thoughtful about what we do, this is a book that will get you thinking about what you're doing."--Dr. Walt Mueller, president, Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, and author of Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture
"In Andrew Root's debut, he has produced a book that every youth worker (and every sponsor, volunteer, parent and pastor) should read. With incisive thinking and articulate writing, Root argues that relationships are not a means to a goal--they are the goal. He treats history fairly, develops a compelling Christology and shows how Christ is present within human relationships. Without hyperbole, I predict this book will change the face of Christian youth ministry."--Tony Jones, national coordinator of Emergent Village (www.emergentvillage.org) and author of The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier
"Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry establishes Andrew Root as a seminal voice in a new generation of youth ministry scholars. Fresh, wise and disciplined, Root exposes the sand on which much 'relational youth ministry' of the late twentieth century has been based, and recasts the church's ministry with young people in the Christology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In so doing, Root injects youth ministry with both a needed missional direction and a welcome theological humility. Drawing on 'real life' relational ministries, Root offers concrete practices that reestablish youth ministry's footing in the suffering love of God in Jesus Christ. Andrew Root is poised to lead the field in rethinking youth ministry as a practical theological discipline, and this book is a breathtaking step in the right direction."--Kenda Creasy Dean, M.Div., Ph.D., parent, pastor and associate professor of youth, church and culture, Princeton Theological Seminary
"Andy Root has unveiled the most significant challenge in youth ministry today--unconditional relationships. Too often we use relationships to achieve our goals and in the process abandon teenagers when those goals are not achieved. Andy has brilliantly laid before us an essential course correction for relational youth ministry that is faithful to the incarnation of Jesus."--Mark W. Cannister, professor of youth ministries, Gordon College
"In this groundbreaking book, Andrew Root explodes the myth that those involved with youth ministry can be excused from being theologians and that theologians can be exempted from writing a theology for youth ministry. Drawing upon the incarnational and transformational theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, among others, Root argues for a relational ministry that is incarnational rather than merely instrumental. He presents Jesus as a living person rather than merely providing a pattern for incarnational ministry, and shows us how a relational ministry can go beyond merely connecting with others to create and inhabit a transforming space. Andy knows how to enter and interpret the culture of adolescence and youth, and shares this wisdom with us. His case studies and creative scenarios put faces on his facts and lend dramatic life to his theories. The book provides the course on theology of ministry that most youth leaders and pastors never got in Bible school or seminary, and the one indispensable text that professors of youth ministry have been longing for."--Ray S. Anderson, senior professor of theology and ministry, Fuller Theological Seminary
. . . The theological and philosophical ideas provide the groundwork for anyone seeking to develop a healthy congregational youth program.--Jason Lief, Pro Rege, June 2008
Root's book is a valuable asset to the field of youth ministry. In calling for an incarnational perspective of relational ministry, Root provides a biblical and theological foundation from which youth leaders can establish meaningful relationships with young people.--Jason Lief, Pro Rege, June 2008
Root urges readers to adopt a "being with" ministry to students, encouraging them to stand with people in need. Put this on your "buy now" list.--L. E. in The Journal of Student Ministries, March/April 2008
Root challenges youth pastors to go beyond doing mere jobs and live the incarnation of Christ with youth.--Chris Maxwell in Ministry Today, March/April 2008
Too often we abandon teenagers when our relationship does not produce our predetermined results. Thankfully, Andy Root has brilliantly laid before us an essential course correction for relational ministry that is faithful to the incarnation of Jesus.--YouthWorker eJournal, August 2007
About the Author
Andrew Root (Ph.D., Princeton Theological Seminary) is in the Baalson Olson Chair as associate professor of youth and family ministry at Luther Seminary (St. Paul, MN). A former Young Life staffworker, he has served in churches and social service agencies as a youth outreach associate and a gang prevention counselor.
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If you answered no, however, I would strongly encourage you to pick this book up. It is very theological/academic, but does remind us that there is purpose in our relationship beside just drawing a student to faith.
What I didn't like is how he made it seem like even if you enter into relationships with students for the right reasons (to be present, because God desires relationship, because it shows Christ and the Trinity in a real/authentic way in this world), but still hope to see transformation and faith in the students you are using relationships wrong. Me personally, I would enter into those relationships even if I knew they would not accept Christ, because of all of the reason mentioned earlier, but that doesn't keep me from using that relationship to preach Christ to them.
That's my two cents. Maybe I'll revisit it someday and finish, but that's not today :)
While the book is broken into two parts it can really be broken into three. In the first section the author examines a history of how we got to the present culture where often the relationships built with youth are little more than tools to get them to buy into Christ, our ministry, and program. The second part examines three important theological questions we must answer: Who is Jesus? Where is Jesus Christ? What then shall we do? Then the author examines how this theology impacts our practical day-to-day relationships (place-sharing)with youth, parents, and other adults.
While the book is scholarly in nature, it is well written, making it accessible to a wider audience. The author uses multiple anecdotes to help the reader grasp the concepts described in the book. Dietrich Bonhoeffer's theology does play a major role in his book, but he is upfront with it. And rather than just continually spout off his theology the author takes his theology and, in a sense, translates it into a friendly format for youth ministry.
This book is for anyone who desires to live out theology instead of just talking about it; building deeper, more authentic relationships with youth.
What Root essentially accomplishes is to re-center youth ministry on Jesus Christ, the God who is with us, not off waiting for us somewhere else. Root's argument leads us away from a "relational ministry" that leverages relationships to get kids to sign onto a "third thing" and reframes ministry as "participation in God's presence" here and now, in this human relationship. He is critical of how the incarnation of Christ has so often been reduced to a pattern or strategy that is "goal-oriented" instead of "companionship-oriented". This agenda ends up being more about ideology than incarnation. Instead, resting on the theological foundation of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus, he recasts youth ministry as "place-sharing".
What does this mean? Root derives this term from Lutheran Theologian/Martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who wrote of Christ's strellvertretung, or "vicarious-representative-action". This is a more relationally-conceived & dynamic understanding of Christ as our "substitute". What does it mean for a youth worker to be in real, authentic, human relationship with an adolescent? What does it mean to be in solidarity with young people, to share their place in the midst of their suffering and pain and sin? Root recognizes that transformation comes from this deep relationship in the presence of God; transformation is not something "over there" we sign up for. It is not abstract; as we "share the place" of another, we honor their broken humanity and in this relationship we can know that Christ is incarnate and present with us, and we are transformed. [If I were to put my Lutheran spin on this, I would say that instead of always talking ABOUT the Gospel and what we SHOULD do, in authentic relationship we can actually GO AHEAD and speak Gospel to each other here and now, we can point to the reality and presence of Christ among us]
So, how does Root unfold his argument? In Part One, he takes us on an interesting journey through the "historical ascent of relational ministry", tracing the emergence in the 20th century of the "teenager", the "high school", "modern evangelicalism", and the new frontier of age-specific ministry to kids living in the developing cultural reality of the "self-chosen relationship". This journey through history comprises the first two chapters & chapter three examines our relational motivations through the lenses of sociology. Root argues that relational youth ministry took its shape not from theological reflection on the incarnation and its implications for ministry, but rather has been formed as a "strategy of engagement within a pluralistic culture."
In Part Two, Root turns to Bonhoeffer's theology as a guide to asking three key questions: Who is Jesus Christ? Where is Jesus Christ? What then shall we do? He unpacks the concepts I've mentioned and much more. He develops a couple of conceptual diagrams that greatly help communicate his argument. These diagrams help us see that there is no such thing as two isolated, autonomous human beings in relationship. We each come to relationship with our own histories, our own cultural location and toolkit for engaging with culture, our own ideologies. We are constantly shaping and being shaped by our social environment and circumstances. It is naïve and dehumanizing to look at adolescents as free-willing, independent consumers who just need the right information about God (or the hippest youth leader) in order to sign up for the Jesus thing. Every kid, every human being is located in a unique and specific place.
Have you ever beat your head against a wall, because as much as you influence some kid to follow Jesus, they have to go home to a hostile family environment, or they are trapped in debilitating social circumstances, or something else, and you begin to feel like you're "getting nowhere" with that kid? What if - Root challenges us - youth ministry was not about success or failure, but about faithfulness? What if the best we can offer kids is to be "present with them in their personal hells", and in sharing their place, proclaim that Christ is alive and present with us?
The final chapters flesh out what this would look like and suggest some "rules of art for place-sharing in community." Root offers the narrative of a female youth worker who "shares the place" of a neighbor girl, as well as looks at (my favorite movie) Good Will Hunting in light of incarnational-relational theology. Very, very powerful.
This is the kind of book to reread and to wrestle with. It ought to generate ongoing conversations among adults who care deeply for children and the church's response to the dehumanization of young people in our culture.