contemplative youth ministry blog tour, day 5

acknowledgment: yes, i am employed by the company that published this book (youth specialties). so, yes, one would not expect me to rip on it. however, i wouldn’t join a blog tour for a book i didn’t like. and i didn’t organize this blog tour: bob carlton did, and asked me to be a part of it.

ok, boring disclamers aside…

here are the first four days of the blog tour:

May 8 Jonny Baker

May 9 Gavin Richardson

May 10 Sarah Dylan Breuer (thought it doesn’t look like dylan actually blogged about the book)

May 11 Jennifer Roach

May 12 Mark Oestreicher (here we are!)

mark yaconelli’s new book, contemplative youth ministry, is quite possibly the best youth ministry book ys has ever published. it is certainly the best book we’ve published in recent years. it’s hands-down the best youth ministry book i’ve read since kenda’s practicing passion.

this is annoying: i actually cried about eight different times while reading this book. one of those, i was reading in a plane, and had tears streaming down my face, and the person next to me asked, “is that a sad book?” ha. quite the contrary.

the book made me cry because it is so true. it is so right. over and over, as i read, i wished i’d used this approach when i was in charge of a youth ministry, all those years. over and over, as i read, i was stunned by the beauty of an approach that so connects my passion for teenagers to know god (and to know that god loves them) with an approach to youth ministry that is both biblical and spiritual (not built on management models or public school educational models).

i’ve been longing for and looking for a fresh breeze to sweep through youth ministry for a long time (as have many of us). we started this youth ministry experiment back the day with some good motivations and assumptions that were at least appropriate for the time. but over the years, we’ve cobbled together pieces and patched things here and there, and modified, and… well, the result is a bit of a frankenstein with all kinds of widely-owned-but-wholey-wrong assumptions, approaches and values.

i’m not trying to say that mark’s book is a one-stop answer to everything wrong. and, to be fair, the book isn’t really not a critique of how we’re doing things at all. mark takes the “high road” and paints a picture of a new approach (or, a different approach — i’m not sure i want to use the word “new”). and — have i made this clear? — it’s stunning.

there’s lots of practical stuff in the book, and even lots of humor (something most people wouldn’t connect with the title!).

i know we’ll have our share of naysayers — those who freak out even at the title — and will accuse ys and this book of taking us quickly down the slippery slope of misleading teenagers. but i kept those people in mind as i read the book — and i just don’t think they’ll have ground to stand on. every page is so aligned with jesus and a biblical/spiritual approach to a mission we have all-too-often made into a circus.

if you’re a youth worker, please read this book. if you can’t afford it, email me and let’s see what we can do. i can almost see a vision of the impact we youth workers would have on the church (and our teenagers) if we all embraced this approach — the freshness that comes from actually knowing god, and the humility that comes with that. oh, that all of us youth workers would be known as the “go to” person in our churches for people who want to learn how to listen to god, rather than the “go to” person in our churches for people who want to learn how to plan a great party.

here’s the rest of the blog tour, btw:

May 15 Dixon Kinser

May 17 Jonathon Norman

May 19 Adam Cleaveland

May 22 Steve Case

May 24 Tim Van Meter

May 26 Lucas Land

May 29 Andy Jack

May 31 Bobbie

June 2 Darren Wright

June 5 Kester Brewin

June 7 Lilly Lewin

June 9 Mike King

10 thoughts on “contemplative youth ministry blog tour, day 5”

  1. strong words for the book. i’m still in the midst of it, but as someone who has felt a need and tried to live a slowed down youth ministry that is contemplative in nature, i was immediately struck by some of the similar language that i and some of my cohorts use and mark’s. makes me think that this honestly is bigger than the book and is transformative.

  2. Just went out and bought the book! I want to read it and pass it around by volunteer team!

  3. I have tried a lot of what he talks about in his previous talks and everything. Much easier said than done. Especially in a congregation that expects fun and entertainment instead of spiritual formation

  4. clint — read the book. mark clearly does not set a contemplative approach up AGAINST fun. he’s got some great stories in there about when leaders were passionate about creating a massive still space all the time, and the kids just wanted to play (and he says this failed because it was more about the leaders’ desires than about discerning what god wanted for that ministry).

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