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.