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Contemplative Youth Ministry

Author: Mark Yaconelli
Published By: SPCK (London)
Pages: 208
Price: £8.99
ISBN: 0 281 05782 6

Reviewed by Martin Hills.

This book is totally absorbing and is really easy to read and understand. I found it personally very challenging and, having read it, I have begun to see the possibilities for my own ministry with young people.

Contemplative youth ministry is full of personal experience, practical examples and opportunities to experiment. Yaconelli is an experienced youth minister and draws on his experiences to offer a valid alternative to the much-used (or overused!) programme driven youth work model.

Yaconelli starts by exploring some of the reasons why youth ministries exist in the first place, looking at the anxieties of adults and of young people and the differing needs that these raise. He then explores how a programme based ministry struggles to meet those needs.

What Yaconelli offers as an alternative is contemplative ministry, grounded in contemplative prayer, where we seek to be open to God and to receive from God. Contemplative ministry is based on making time to be with God and from that position of strength ‘being’ with young people.

Yaconelli demonstrates that, with the burden of programmes and achievements rationalised and the pressure to ‘succeed’ removed, the youth minister is free to really ‘be’ with young people, to see them for who they are, to hear them and their needs, to act with compassion, delight in their achievements - in essence to love them as Christ loves us. When we do this, Yaconelli argues that the young people will see a difference in our ministry and the space that we offer them will allow them to develop their own relationships with God.

There is much more in the book than this, including a number of appendices outlining the contemplative approach; and also liturgy and group outlines.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in youth ministry and to any church that is struggling with its ministry to young people.

Martin Hills

Youth Minister - Central Baptist Church, Chelmsford

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You are reading Issue 42 of Ministry Today, published in March 2008.

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