I think you are both right and both miss the point!
I agree that when we reduce ‘relational youth work’ to the status of technique we do an injustice to both the philosophical and theological basis of ministry that seeks to occupy this space. The reliance on technique in youth work and ministry is concerning – you name some specific examples. It is concerning because as Taff suggests it implies that we approach ministry with a set of goals that we wish to achieve – and for which we have a series of techniques. In doing this we run the risk of leaving God out of the picture or bless what we want.
As such, relying on philosophy Taff to counter this isn’t enough, nor is it enough to locate our rationale for practice in a set of principles behind an approach to working with young people – however noble.
What we are talking about is a call to engage in what you Richard P once called ‘street theology’. Where is God with, coming to, and taking the young people we connect with. This requires practical wisdom and skill. Theology is an art! I’d like you to tell us what wisdom and skills you think are required…
Nick shepherd Is chief exec of CYM follow him on twitter @theonogrpaher