The Relational Pastor
One of the Academy of Parish Clergy's "Top 10 Books for Parish Ministry"
When is the last time you asked yourself hard questions about why you were pursuing certain relationships in your ministry? Could it be that the end game for many of us is not relationship per se but loyalty, adherence, even submission? The sheep in our flock become the means to our end: pastoring becomes less about the people of God and more about maintenance of the status quo—and, if we are willing to recognize it, the elevation of our pastoral status.
Here practical theologian Andy Root dissects relational ministry as we have come to understand it and searches for the seed of a more wholesome, more pastoral understanding of the relationships for which God has prepared the church: the place where, when two or more are gathered in his name, Christ is present.
"I have always been fascinated by the African Ubuntu saying: 'I am because we are.' The suggestion that without you I cannot be myself is radical and transformative. Such a way of understanding human persons opens up a very different relational space, one which stands in stark contrast to our individualistic assumptions and the whole idea that we are 'our own people.' Andrew Root understands this dynamic; more than that, he shows us how we might live it. With grace and imaginative commitment he carves out a quite beautiful model of relational discipleship and relational church. If you are interested in what love looks like, this book is for you."
"This is a scary book. It threatens to expose the tricks we pastors use to influence some and to motivate others; it threatens to uncover our egoism and reveal how often we protect our fiefdoms. The Relational Pastor is a call to live authentically. It's an invitation to be honest about who we are and what keeps us awake at night; and finally, it's a call to the only life worth living—a real one."
"In an age where connecting with people via technology and social media has quickly become the norm, Andy Root has spent much energy reminding youth pastors what it means to connect and be in relationship with others in the context of their ministries. The Relational Pastor is a convicting call to pastors at all levels to remember what it is to be Christlike and incarnational in regards to our relationships. This is a must-read for any pastor who believes that relationships with people are at the core of not just ministry but of our understanding of Jesus Christ and our intimacy with him."
"Several years ago, I encountered the work of Andrew Root, and while it was primarily focused on youth ministry, it radically changed the way I engaged my own work as a congregational pastor. With The Relational Pastor, Root takes the seeds of what I saw and coaxes them into a full-fledged tree, teeming with wonderful fruit. "By reorienting our perspective from relating to others as 'the sum of their decisions' to 'a mystery to be encountered,' Root has offered ministers of all stripes the opportunity to live and encounter the incarnation, not as a doctrine to be learned but a reality to be lived."
"So much of what passes for pastoral ministry resources these days is either thinly veiled pragmatism or a sentimental call to return to a bygone era. Thankfully, Andy Root defies that trend. Instead, he has developed a deep and robust theology of pastoral ministry that engages the imagination and invites embodiment. He achieves this by interacting with compelling research drawn from a wide variety of disciplines that he thens interprets in (and for) the context of the local church. The Relational Pastor is an important book whose time is now."
"I have long suspected the 'folk ecclesiology' of most evangelical churches could not support missional and/or incarnational ministry for the long haul. Andrew Root's The Relational Pastor helps me see this problem anew in a helpful way. In the process he points a way forward to a robust theology that grounds the church in our God who has become flesh in Jesus Christ. What this means for personhood, relationship and community is astounding. Thank you, Andrew Root. I needed this book."
"It is not often you find a work that is so full of practical relational insight, while maintaining theological depth. Root's work doesn't offer anything shockingly novel, but it is a theologically rich call to refocus on the relational side of ministry."
"If you are a pastor wearied by the tempations to produce and hungry for simple connection with others (simple pastoring), you will find a friend here."
"Most pastors and ministry leaders will affirm that relationships are at the heart of ministry. Root's concern, however, is that relationships have become the tool of ministry--simply a means to earn the loyalty of people to our programs or our brand of Jesus to our ministries grow. Thus, building relationship ministries becomes a strategy rather than a sincere effort to connect with people. . . . Root's concern is important and discussion-worthy, so recommend this book to pastors, group leaders, and key ministry leaders."
"Root gives compelling and well-reasoned arguments to the many benefits of ministers becoming 'relational pastors.'"
"I cannot imagine any pastors going through seminary today not reading this important book."
"Christian bookstore shelves are flooded with books for pastors with formulas and models for effective ministry in churches today, and most pastors will admit to having worked towards implementing many of them with minimal success. In contrast is Andrew Root's new text, The Relational Pastor. Written by a self-identified introvert, this book sets aside formulas and models to take a unique look at the relationship between a pastor and their parishioners and suggests that it is within relationships that true pastoral ministry lies. . . . In the tradition of Andrew Root's writing, this a well-researched book that crosses many disciplines to build a solid argument. This text will contribute significantly to the pool of literature preparing ministry leaders today, and hopefully offer a challenge not previously extended."
2. New Energy, New Communications, New Consciousness . . . New Ministry
3. Transitioning from the Pastor as Self-Help Entertainer
4. Sipping the Sweet, Hard Liquor of Individualism
5. All the Lonely People: The Field of the Personal
6. What Is a Person?
7. Empathy, It's a Spirit Thing
8. Can I Read Your Mind?
9. New Visions of Incarnational Ministry
10. The Gift
11. Sharing is More Than What You Learned in Kindergarten
12. The Place Between
A Quick Pauline Excursion: Sharing and Place in Paul—It's All About the In
13. Will You Pray for Me?
14. Vista: What This Looks Like and How Story, Teaching and Preaching Fits
15. I've Got to Run the Church Don't I? Leadership as Letting Relationships Flow
Appendix: Practices from Relational Pastors