Functional Atheism

I’ve recently been reading Mark Yaconelli’s book which is entitled Contemplative Youth Ministry and to be honest it has disturbed me greatly. Those of you who know me know that I am not the contemplative type. So this book has made for some uncomfortable reading and more than just a little re-thinking about what I am actually communicating to young people through the Youth Ministry I am involved in. One quote in particular has been playing on my mind: youth ministry is often…
“an endless parade of duded up Christian rock stars, hyper activities, word heavy programmes and teen devotionals covered in exclamation marks!!!! There is a tangible sense that God must be dressed up or hidden behind high-energy music or charismatic speakers. Our churches and ministries seem deathly afraid of any-kind of downtime. All silence and stillness is eradicated for fear that youth might find God disappointing, boring or absent. It’s as if our church and ministry leaders suspect that God has left the building, and so they stall with jabbering words and meaningless activities in hopes that the crowd won’t become restless.”

Youth Ministry is hyper active and needs to be but there must be a place for stillness, silence, time to reflect, remember, consider etc and the young people can only follow the example of their leaders. If I’m honest silence intimidates me at times, contemplation can be uncomfortable and cringy even. I am more convinced than ever that youth ministry needs to slow down and I need to create downtime in my own life, integrate silence into my day and make stillness a regular occurrence in my week before it can ever become a part of the ministry I lead.


3 thoughts on “Functional Atheism”

  1. This book is awesome, we’re reading it as a team at the minute and the discussions we get out of it are immense. My favourite and most challenging quote so far has to be “In the Christian community there is an even deeper block: we no longer know how to be with God. In the church we love to debate God, defend God, protect or promote God. We talk to God, praise God, and even serve God. The one thing for which we have little time or patience is actually spending time with God” I’ve read it out twice in church already and I’m convinced we need to be doing more of it, less of the doing Christianity and more of the being children of God!!

  2. i read it this time last year and found it really challenging and fresh! I held a leaders retreat in September and used the material from the book to challenge and inspire them of what youth ministry should really be about which was a really positive thing to do. Enjoy it pal!

  3. Hey Michael!Its great to reflect and not just absorb what we are reading!My goat at the minute has been the people that we elevate to hero status in the Christian Community, at the ignorance and expense of the everyday heroes that are all around us. When Cornelius fell at Peter’s feet in adoration, Peter felt extremely uncomfortable, rebuked him and said ‘Im only a man’ Yet we see Christian ego’s that are the size of small countries. I feel we are in the midst of a dramatic change in the way we do things and what we teach and model to the young people around us. Embrace the uncomfortable silences in prayer and services and see what becomes of it! Maybe you could practice an intentional 20 minute silence during lent each day? Must catchup soon, slabber about football to each other and teach you a lesson at squash!

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