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Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the Presence of Jesus (Youth Specialties) Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Series: Youth Specialties
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan/Youth Specialties; First Edition edition (April 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310267773
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310267775
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #239,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Mark Yaconelli is the co-founder and co-director of Triptykos School of Compassion. The author of Downtime, Contemplative Youth Ministry, and Growing Souls, Mark lives in Oregon with his wife and three children.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the Presence of Jesus teen angst and adult anxiety In our age everything has to be a 'problem.' Ours is a time of anxiety because we have willed it to be so. Our anxiety is not imposed on us by force from outside. We impose it on our world and upon one another from within ourselves. Sanctity in such an age means, no doubt, traveling from the area of anxiety to the area in which there is no anxiety or perhaps it may mean learning, from God, to be without anxiety in the midst of anxiety. ---THOMAS MERTON, THOUGHTS IN SOLITUDE I've really begun to understand what deeply spiritual people teenagers are. (Silly to have forgotten, when I was one myself.) Even the scruffi est middle- schooler is on a seriously beautiful, completely unique journey, as we all are, and have been, even when we were little kids. Understanding that has perhaps been the best fruit that contemplative prayer has yielded in my relationship with young people. ---MELISSA RANGE, POET, YOUTH MINISTRY VOLUNTEER, OAKHURST BAPTIST CHURCH, DECATUR, GEORGIA Teenagers make adults anxious. They just do. In fact, adult anxiety about teens may be the primary reason youth ministry exists. Spot a cluster of unfamiliar young people laughing outside the church, and adults get suspicious. If these youth happen to paint their lips black or jump skateboards off the church steps, adults can get downright fearful. Adult anxiety toward teens is ancient, even biblical. In the only scene we're given from Jesus' adolescence, the young Messiah sneaks away from his family and hides out in Jerusalem. When his mother fi nally rushes into the temple and discovers her holy middle-schooler, she cries frantically, 'Child, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety!' (Luke 2:48). It turns out that even the teenage Prince of Peace can make adults crazy with worry. There are many reasons why adults feel anxious around teens. Young people are fi dgety. They fi ddle with things and won't stay still. They exaggerate and mirror adult postures that make us selfconscious and uncomfortable. They always seem to be looking for something---a friend, an adventure, a ride, food, acceptance, a glimpse of who they're becoming. Youth can voice their questions with such open-hearted honesty that we fi nd ourselves blushing. Sometimes their neediness or suffering can be obvious in a way that leaves us feeling helpless or despondent. Young people are green. They can make adults feel tired, musty, and unattractive. Emerging from childhood, teens move toward adulthood with fresh eyes and energy. They see white elephants. They ask the obvious and un-faced questions: 'Why do we have to go to church when Jesus never did?' 'How come you tell me not to drink alcohol when you have a beer every night?' 'Why are these benches called pews?' Just the presence of young people within a community of adults exposes weaknesses, raises doubts, and challenges assumed values. ]Young people can be disturbingly (or is it refreshingly?) unpredictable. One day they seem happy to conform to their parents' wishes and adult conventions; the next day it appears they're making it up as they go along, led zigzag by an internal drummer that even they don't seem to recognize. Young people can express a childlike dependency one moment, then get offended by the lack of independence they're granted the next. Youth are messy. Take this example: Three years ago while traveling on a bus full of young people, I noticed I was seated near fi ve or six teenage girls. At the time, my wife and I were expecting our fi rst daughter, and I was eager to learn about the relationships between these teenage girls and their fathers. I asked the girls if they would be willing to tell me about their relationships with their fathers and to offer any advice they thought helpful. Although these young women were from all over North America and represented diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds, I was surprised at how all the girls in this particular group spoke in very similar, adoring tones about their dads. Then one 15-year-old said, 'Of course, you have to be prepared for times when your daughter might say to you, 'I hate you, Daddy!' But usually by the next day you'll get a handmade card that says something like, 'You're the greatest dad in the world.'' Bewildered, I looked at her and asked if any of them had enacted this kind of behavior with their own fathers. All but one nodded in agreement. I was incredulous. I asked what had prompted them to use such extreme language. One girl replied, 'Well, it can be anything, really. Like, a couple of months ago I stopped talking to my dad after he wore black socks and sandals to pick me up from school. But other times I've said similar things for really no reason at all.' When I asked them why, they just shrugged their shoulders. 'It's just something we do,' one of them offered. Youth make adults anxious. One thing that becomes increasingly disturbing for many grownups is the sense that they have little control over young people. This scares adults. Adults want youth to conform to adult standards. They want kids to act responsibly. They want them to sit down and listen. They want them to hurry up and get their identities fi xed and grounded. Adults want youth to have a roadmap for a secure and reasonable future, and they get rattled when they notice that most youth aren't carrying one. Youth workers aren't immune from these anxieties. We worry about the young people in our care. We don't know what they look at on the Internet. We can't keep up with the electronic gadgets they play with. We've never heard of the bands or celebrities they talk about. We don't know what they do after school. We're unaware of the subject or codes in their e-mail conversations. Even the most hip youth ministers can sometimes feel like they really don't understand young people at all. Perhaps one source of these adult anxieties is the growing separation between youth and adults. For the past 40 years, economic policies, changes in social norms, and a relentless marketing strategy to create and sell to a teenage market have combined to create what sociologist Christian Smith calls a 'structural disconnect' between adults and youth.4 This separation begins long before adolescence. Many youth spend most of their childhoods segregated in daycares and schools, afternoons and evenings in front of televisions and computers, weekends hanging out with friends. By early adolescence most young people are attuned to a different reality, a different world, than adults. The less contact adults have with young people, the more mysterious they seem. Adults can fall into the traps of projection, speculation, worry, and fearful imaginings. Congregations and church leaders fi nd themselves relying on the media to learn about kids. They absorb stories about teenage gangs and violence. They watch videos and movies that portray youth as hormone-driven, sex-crazed nymphs. They hear news stories and government reports that talk alarmingly about 'at-risk' kids. All of this becomes a fi lter for how young people are 4 Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers (Oxford University Press, 2005), 182. teen angst and adult anxiety perceived. Adults see teenagers in baggy jeans and oversized jackets and fear they're hiding drugs or weapons. They see a group of young women in short halter tops and lipstick and worry about their sexual activity.

More About the Author

Mark Yaconelli is the co-founder and co-director of Triptykos School of Compassion. The author of Downtime, Contemplative Youth Ministry, and Growing Souls, Mark lives in Oregon with his wife and three children.

Customer Reviews

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Please read this book - use it.
Martha Grace Reese
If your goal is to reach postmodern youth, then this book will transform the way you do ministry.
Daniel Im
This book is very well written, and very very useful as far as it's praxis.
J. P. Martin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Joshua D. Jones on August 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Contemplative youth ministry is a welcomed book. It's a book that seeks to put God at the centre of youth ministry instead of programs that stem from good ideas. The title of the book sums up the theme and direction of the book. Basically if Brother Lawrence had done youth ministry, he probably would have written a book like this. He instructs youth leaders on how to listen to God, how to minister from a place of silence and hearing God's voice, and how to encourage these activities among the youth.

One of the strengths of the book would be his testimony at the beginning of the book in which he describes himself as being program driven and success seeking. He then recounts his transformation to a place where he ministers out of love instead of anxiety. I felt that I could relate.

The part that I got the most from was when he called us to be "fully present" to the individual youths. He made me realise how often I've only given someone half of my attention. His challenge to me to slow down and give a youth my full attention and listening ears is much appreciated.

I felt the book had a couple of weaknesses that made me give this otherwise unique book only three stars. First of all, he fails to ground his (what are for many) new and somewhat radical ideas in scripture. With the exception of the odd verse, he bases his ideas more in church history than in scripture. Not to say that I think that his ideas are unbiblical; for at least the most part they are not. But, when calling the church to fundamentally change how we do things, we want a surer guide then a few testimonies and a "this is how Ignatius Loyola would have done it".
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Martha Grace Reese on April 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a stunning book. It's grounded in a seven year Lilly Endowment study of youth ministry. The power of the book is in its authenticity, its deep reality. We lived in a speeded-up, multi-tasking society. A richer life lies in a real connection with God and deep relationships with others. Youth yearn for real conversations with loving adults, they need and respond beautifully to authentic prayer and silence. Please read this book - use it. Our youth, our adults, our churches deserve the chance to shift to God's timing and God's reality. What a gift of the Spirit!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Timothy J. Hower on March 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I have read a pile of books on curriculum and events and how to engage youth. I was looking to go deeper with our youth because some of them have been asking me to do that. They are looking for a more meaningful relationship with Christ not just another fun youth group event. This book is full of story's and examples along with practical applications to help me as a youth leader grow stronger in my walk with Christ and how to lead others in their walk. My book is full of sticky notes for all kinds of useful information and inspirational story's for me to use in youth ministry. This is the best youth ministry related book I have read and I anticipate going back to it often.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. P. Martin on January 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
When I first started this book I was struck by the ease of reading this book - Mark Yaconelli has a very nice pace, it makes me think that he's actually practicing what he's talking about in the book while he's writing, because everything is just really laid back. Secondly you notice that Mr. Yaconelli knows what he's talking about - telliing all the stories of youth ministry failures, and successes and just how he's come to this place of contemplative prayer.

This book is very well written, and very very useful as far as it's praxis.

I highly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Matt Ahearn on April 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Frustration and disappoint described Mark Yaconelli life early in ministry and, sadly, those sentiments are shared by other youth ministers across the country. Yaconelli, unsatisfied with this disparaging status quo, slowly discovered, but a way of being that permeates youth ministry leadership. Soon, this revitalized his ministry and he further realized the need for this contemplative approach. His book, Contemplative Youth Ministry, focuses on identifying problems in ministry and articulating contemplative solutions to those problems.

Yaconelli's thesis in Contemplative Youth Ministry centers around the idea that youth ministry leaders have forgotten how to "be" with kids and that recapturing this concept requires living out the presence of Jesus(Yaconelli 19, 21). Yaconelli notes that these problems stem from the inability to "be" with kids, with ourselves, and with God himself. The solution is the presence of Jesus and Yaconelli suggests that we must learn how to personally spend time in the presence of Jesus before we engage students with that presence (22). Yaconelli articulates these problems and describes them through the first three chapters of the book, noting how most adults have an anxiety laden perspective about youth. With that foundation, Yaconelli then turns to fully and practically explaining the implications of his thesis.

From a purely literary standpoint, Yaconelli works outstandingly on his thesis. One of his major points is the need for youth leaders to allow God to love them. And, in chapter five, Yaconelli further elaborates on this point. However, instead of merely sermonizing or reiterating this need, he provides concrete examples regarding how youth leaders should live in God's love.
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