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Andrew Root

Thanks much for reviewing and blogging about my book. We have met at IASYM two conferences ago and then again at Princeton. I think that you are quite right that the book is very American based in the area of terminology. We (especially those in youth ministry) are still slugging our way through the mainline/evangelical split that happened in the 1920s and as it has manifested itself again in the area of politics and culture in general now. So a word of apology to all UK readers. My own qualitative research did only deal with 5 churches but it was a derivative of a much larger study done by Christian Smith (yes, the one from Soul Searching) and Michael Emerson. They did an expansive mixed methods national research project on American Evangelicalism. Their study provided the larger frameworks (like relationalism, anti-structuralism, sub-cultural identity, and freewill individualism). Therefore, my objective in looking at the five youth ministries was to see if these above listed things (called the “evangelical too-kit”) existed in youth ministry and if they were setting the terms for the practice of relational youth ministry. Therefore, my research is based on their expansive study and is only illustrative of it. But very fair point. That said, for the UK reader the history may be just interesting and useful only to alert us all that we too often use relationship as means to other ends. Of course in those chapters I use a great deal of Anthony Giddens and try to show that the rise of the pure relationship (I call it the “self-chosen relationship”) and the loss of tradition coincided with relational or incarnational forms of ministry (I would imagine that this would have some resonance in UK). Part two really is the heart of the work for me. I really wanted to provide a theological perspective and I turn to Bonhoeffer because he really wants to deal with the issue of the concreteness of revelation (where concretely do we encounter God). In the US we usually default into subjective places in answering this. But Bonhoeffer places it in the church and world (or better the place where persons meet persons). Christ exists between the I and you. I stay with just Bonhoeffer because I want to help the reader move into dialogue with a theologian and connect with his (or her) imagination around these issues. In the footnotes however you will find references to Levinas, Barth, Genz, Ray Anderson, Buber, Volf , and the great Scottish philosopher John MacMurray. Thanks again, Jonny, for the kind review and I hope the book can be stimulating in the UK in one way or another. Hope to connect with you again soon. Andy

John L

Thanks for this. The idea that "relationships are not a means to achieve an end goal" certainly isn't limited to youth work. It would be great to see this theme expanded generally as a central missional idea. Love the Nouwen quote.


i can't explain how much I needed this post. Thanks Jonny

Ricky Rew

Thanks for the review Jonny. Sounds like it is a must-read book for me and my partners as we set up a collaborative open youth work project in the centre of town. I've put in my order.

Jeff Greathouse

I absolutely loved the book and thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. The incarnational aspect and the "deep" re;ational ministry that he dwells into were fantastic.

I look forward to seeing how this shapes me, my life anf my ministry.

kenny wilson

In the UK the term 'Relational Youth Work' was coined in 1984 by Kenny Wilson to describe the new style of youth work he was undertaking in the Oxford area. The term was then promoted in and thorugh Oxord youth Works as ageneral decsiption of their youth work until the term incarnational youth work came to give a theological underpinning to that style of work.


thanks kenny!

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