Relationships Unfiltered (Book Review)
Recently I finished Andrew Root’s Relationships Unfiltered. Initially I wasn’t sure if it was going to be another book that claimed to sell a new model for ministry or not. But I was pleasantly surprised that it does not offer a new model, but a pretty solid Scriptural basis for revisiting how we minister to students within relationship.
Andrew shares a lot of stories from his own experience with students (and adults) that point to a need to be place-sharers with students. Not just connecting with them, but living alongside them, especially in their pain and suffering. He speaks of a need to build relationships not in order to convert teens, or to influence them toward specific goals, but to build relationships simply for the sake of building relationships. He argues that when we build relationships of influence that we are actually short-changing students (and God) because we are not being honest with them. We are just trying to influence them to a different way of thinking.
I think the only thing that I wrestled with in the book was the idea of not building relationships to influence others toward Christ. But we are commanded to spread the Gospel to the whole world, so should not the goal of every relationship ultimately be to introduce them to Christ? Now, I do not disagree that forging a relationship with a student just to get them to convert to Christianity or to influence their morality is a bad idea. But should that relationship at some point share Christ?
Overall, the book is pretty solid. It does present what I believe to be a Biblical argument for place-sharing with teens in their grief and suffering, and in their celebrations. It offers tangible boundaries to set with students within those relationships. It offers not a model or a program, but an argument to live life alongside students, sharing Christ simply by being there.