Sunday, February 11, 2007

Practicing the Presence of Jesus

Introduction: Practicing the Presence of Jesus

What is Yaconelli's presupposition about the current state of American youth culture and why "contemplative youth ministry" is so important? Do you agree or disagree with him? Give an example from your own experience with teens that supports your point of view.

Chapter 1: Teen Angst and Adult Anxiety

What Yaconelli is saying about anxiety in this chapter is somewhat controversial. Not everyone agrees that most youth ministry comes from a place of anxiety. Find, and quote, a sentence or two from this chapter with which you either agree or disagree and explain why.

Chapter 2: Life Without Expectations

In this chapter Mark describes a type of "youth ministry conversion" experience where his eyes are opened to a new reality for his ministry with youth. On page 59 he shares some of the questions which were rolling through his head upon reentering his youth ministry after this conversion.

Share your answer to these questions in relation to the place where you are working with youth.

  • If God is alive and present, then how is God moving within the ministry?
  • If God is so available, then how is God present to each of these kids?

On these dates I will post questions pertaining to these chapters.
  • February 9th and 16th - Introduction, Chapters 1-2
  • February 23rd - Chapters 3-6
  • March 2nd - Chapters 7-10
  • March 9th - Chapters 11-14


Matt said...

Yaconelli argues that we don't know how to be, and he breaks it into three categories: we don't know how to be with our kids, ourselves, and with God. This plays out as a lack of relationship with others, leaving us to be with ourselves and fostering individualism and isolation. In theory, a contemplative approach to ministry helps us cultivate the ability to just be. Or to put it another way, it gives us a way to have authentic relationships.

I found myself nodding along with Yaconelli as I read, but thought that the problem was larger in scope (which he gets to in chapter 1). The way I see it the problem is not necessarily confined to youth ministry, but the problem is with the church. The church functions in such a way as to encourage this sort of way-of-life in teenagers and in our ministries. I am convinced that we cannot band-aid youth ministry while leaving the gaping ecclesiological wounds in the broader Body. I think of Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 12:26: "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it". We don't just need youth ministers to learn how to be with their kids, we need the church to learn how to be the church.

Yaconelli gets at some of these issues of ecclesiology in chapter 1 when describing youth ministry as a result of the fear and anxiety within the various age levels of the congregation. I feel like I don't have a whole lot of insight to offer in this area, because the way youth ministry is done today may just be because "that's how you do youth ministry" rather than as a way to combat any anxiety. I've never been a part of a church that has formed a youth ministry from scratch, so I don't know the thought process that could go into it. Anxiety could obviously be a driving factor. I think most churches today are just following the lead of other churches who claim to have "success" by doing youth ministry adhering the prevailing model. The better question to ask instead might be, "Does the way we currently practice youth ministry fuel the anxiety teens and adults have for one another by separating these generations from each another?"

The last questions need some more thought from me, perhaps I will come back and post some thoughts.

jmyers said...


You are asking a very serious question. Many of our practices do drive a wedge between the generations. We (meaning those of us who make a living off of this thing called youth ministry) seem to benefit from this gap. As long as the gap exists and there is anxiety between youth and adults then the church will need those of us who can either bridge the gap or attempt to exist in a pseudo-authentic way on both sides of the chasm.

The wounds of the church do run deep and our youth are not oblivious to them. They have their own wounds as well, which make them hesitant to be around more pain, especially the institutional version. Luckily the gospel promises us enough healing to go around.

God's peace.
Jeremy Myers