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Relationships Unfiltered By Andy Root

October 12, 2010

I enjoyed reading Relationships Unfiltered by Andy Root. Andy is without a doubt one of the bright up and coming “thinkers” in the accademic discipline” of Youth Ministry. Having said that I am troubled by a couple of the aspects of the book. It along with Andy’s previous works serve as a deconstruction of relational ministry based strongly on the writings of Bonhoeffer and Andy’s work with at risk students. The root of my concern is that youth ministry students will deconstruct relational, incarnational (as traditionaly understood) ministry with out ever having become skilled in the practices of how to connect with different types of students and engage them in connective conversation. I have talked with students who have read Andy’s stuff and they reply “right on it is about time someone exposed the manipulative elements of relating to students to move them toward an agenda” but when I observe these same youth workers on a high school campus they have no idea how to initiate a conversation or do “contact work”. This is not Andys fault but it is what comes of deconstructing that which has not yet been constructed. In other words I would make students read Connect: Real Relationships in a world of isolation by Jonathan Mckee and make sure they can apply those concepts and then have them read Relationships Unfiltered to understand the potential weakness and limitations of the Connections approach. I was also troubled by a couple of the Bonhoeffer stories as examples to follow uncriticaly for I think on occasions even the great Deitrick got it slightly wrong as in the communion story on page 55. To sum up my thoughts, the longer you have been in youth ministry and the longer you have developed the skill sets of how to relate and start conversations and relationships with students the more you need to read this book. The younger you are in youth ministry the more you may need to focus on constructing those skill sets before Andy’s book will be valuable in helping you deconstruct your models.

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