Okay I spent 3 months absorbing this book. Click here if you want to read my summary on chapters 1-4
What I loved:
– Interacting with Bonhoeffer. Seriously what youth pastor interacts with Bonhoeffer? Bonhoeffer believed that all theology, ministry, and faith begins with the question, “Who?” Who are you?. Root reminded me that I need to revisit Bonhoeffer’s book: The Cost of Discipleship
– Viewing place-sharing as God’s incarnational presence. Place-sharing includes “who”, “Theologian”, and reflecting a narrative of the incarnate, crucified, and resurrected.
– Emphasis on Trinity in relation to deeper and richer place-sharing. The beauty about the doctrine of the Trinity is that it is three persons in one essence so there is no hiding, secrets, gossip, but real and raw relationship. The Trinity is a view of the community of the Godhead. It is a picture of each person of the Godhead sharing in the life of the other two.
– How Root imports theological content in youth ministry. It was really refreshing reading solid theological point in how youth ministers become more relationally driven.
What I am still struggling with:
Root believes youth ministers need to deconstruct the influential model and rebuild a deep relational youth ministry paradigm.
Influence cannot be separated from relationships. As an average youth pastor who works his tail off trying to sustain and build relationship with students, I am having a difficult time buying into this thesis. When I first got into youth ministry I was all about unfiltered relational youth ministry, and I am still am but with parameters.
I realized this youth generation doesn’t need any more “friends”– they have enough already. I discovered my place-sharing turned into more of a moralistic therapeutic practice. It seemed like many of my students are very existential, so we spent a lot of time talking about how they were “feeling”. I tried many things to make this place-sharing intentional and theological. Although it seemed chaotic and unproductive. I realize that my facilitation skills are weak during these place-sharing times, so I might be part of the problem. I also went to public school, so I might be mis-understanding Root.
Here is why I think influence/persuasion (I argue persuasion and influence are the same thing)and relationships are dependent. Influence involves change which is made voluntarily and impacts beliefs, attitudes, values, and identity. Anything we bump up against will have a direct/indirect influence on us. We cannot stop influencing. Root influenced me to not influence students.
Paul talks about how we need to persuade men/students (2 Cor 5.11) to be reconciled to God. If youth pastors are mature, real, respectful, and simple we should not feel bad if we are “influencing” students. I think influence is the first step in changing student’s perspective that Jesus is real and alive.
I think youth pastors need to be very intentional designing places that directly talk about Jesus and the Kingdom of God that have clear boundaries and structure. Many times students will try everything in their power to deviate the conversation, which means we talk about the new school gossip for 25 minutes. Students need and desire structure.
My conclusion: This is a great book. I will give it 5 stars and recommend it to all my youth pastor friends. Root is on to something, however his thesis needs guidelines and practical application points for youth ministers. So if you haven’t read it buy it here.