Review: Relationships Unfiltered
I have always said that relationships are a vital part of an effective youth ministry. Andrew Root, author of Relationships Unfiltered, would partially agree with me. After reading his thoughts, I may need to change my perspective.
Root, who is assistant professor of youth and family ministry at Luther Seminary, wrote Relationships Unfiltered after years of personal and ministry experience showed him that there was more to relationship than trying to influence the person to do what you want them to do. I still think relationships are vital in youth ministry, but how relationships are handled needs to change. But what does that change look like? You will have to read the book to find that answer, but here are a few clues.
In the first part of the book, Root fleshes out what it means for relationships to be authentic. He starts by looking at what is not relational youth ministry and why it cannot be about influence. To clarify, consider this quote from Andrew's wife, “Relationships aren't about making things work; they're first about being together in the crap of life! It's only when we're together, really together, that things can get any better! Just stop trying to fix things and be with me!“
The ability to truly be with another person through good and bad is an extremely important foundation to consider because for many youth workers relationships are all about influence (whether we admit it or not). The remaining chapters focus on place-sharing and what that looks like in a youth ministry. These chapters, and the ideas presented, stand firmly on the foundation of relationships not being about influence.
If you are like me, you may struggle with the implications of this shift for your own ministry as you read this book; you will find the last few pages to be priceless. Root concludes Relationships Unfiltered by offering ideas for paid, professional youth workers and volunteers. These pages of application could be the most valuable material you read in the year to come. That is, if you actually put the idea of place-sharing into practice within your ministry, which is very possible if you implement the simple ideas Root offers. However, even more than implementing these ideas yourself, you need to go through this book with your youth team and come up with your own ideas for your ministry.
Going through Relationships Unfiltered with your youth team will be easier than finding an extra adult for the New Year's overnighter. Each chapter has discussion questions already written, designed to spark conversation, along with an “into your world” activity such as writing a letter to a person who was there for you during the messiness of your life. Second, and more important to busy youth workers, it is an easy book to read.
If you want the students in your ministry to experience authentic relationships, you will want to read Relationships Unfiltered.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.