February 13, 2013
I don’t want to disagree that there are better and worse ways of doing relational youth work, but with the way it is being conceptualised. Youth work or youth ministry are always concerned with the achievement of outcomes (goods) beyond themselves. They are technologies in that they are particular value-laden (ideological) mechanisms for bringing about a range of potential goods for young people. These goods could be church attendance, the development of a particular type of relationship with the worker, a commitment of Christ, etc. The use of the term ‘relational’ with youth work is either redundant (youth work is ideologically relational) or indicates a ‘technique’ a particular way of doing youth work.
I would prefer an articulation in terms of Aristotelian praxis, a concern with a moral pursuit in which the outcomes cannot be spelt out in detail ahead of time and our concern is developing youth people’s ability to pursue the good life (see my DPhil thesis). In this account we do not need the term ‘youth work’ relational or otherwise.