Saturday, April 06, 2013

Relational Ministry is Not a Strategy

Scot McKnight writes a good summary/review of Andrew Root's book The Relational Pastor: Sharing in Christ by Sharing Ourselves.

I think that to the extent that emerging and missional models of ministry failed and are failing, it is due precisely to leaders wanting a relational strategy rather than relationships with others for their own sake. It comes down to the same personal kingdom building (not Jesus' Kingdom building) that they think they're rejecting from the old Evangelical models.

McKnight summarizes (with little comment) Root's proposed history of ministry - various ministry styles predominating in various historical conditions, suggesting that the time is ripe for "a new day of relational ministries." I think that Root's point is lost when he focuses on time periods and developing methods of ministry. If relational ministry were simply the best method for the time period we are moving into, then it would be merely a strategy, undercutting the main point of the book.

To be fair, I've only seen this review, not read the book, but it is suggestive of the kind of emerging doublespeak I've seen too often--those espousing postmodern ideas suggesting on the one hand that older ("modernist") ways of doing things were appropriate for their time, but we're now moving into another time requiring other methods; and on the other hand, that postmodernism is exposing the errors of the modern age and rediscovering universal, pre-Constantinian truths from which we should never have deviated. I'd say that they can't have it both ways--but that would just expose my modernist, Aristotelian, either-or mentality.

But I think Root has done better than his proposed history suggests--I think relationships were exactly what Jesus was interested in, and what caused the early church to spread, precisely because they weren't agenda driven. People were convinced by the believers' character, not their strategies to convert others, and that's what the epistles encourage.  Seems I might have written about that somewhere....

If you like this post, you may be interested in my book, What's Wrong with Outreach?

What's Wrong with Outreach?

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