On Youth Specialties
A Time of Departing
Speaks On Youth Specialties
from A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen)
"In the fall of 1997 the Lilly Endowment funded [a] ministry experiment called the Youth Ministry and Spirituality Project. The project directors are Mark Yaconelli (son of Mike Yaconelli) and Andrew Dreitcer. Mike Yaconelli is cofounder of Youth Specialties, a resource and training organization that has a major impact upon evangelical youth work across America. These men teach courses at the Youth Specialties National Youth Workers Conventions and the Canadian National Youth Workers Conventions. Course titles include, "Space for God: a Contemplative Model of Youth Ministry," and "God Encounters: Spiritual Exercises That Trans- form Students." In addition, Youth Specialties holds a national convention for pastors each year, three national youth worker conventions a year and over 100 seminars every year that reach over 100,000 youth workers worldwide - all with its current teaching on spirituality. Mike Yaconelli's attraction and acceptance of contemplative prayer is very similar to the story of Sue Monk Kidd. In his book, Dangerous Wonder, Yaconelli relates how lost he had felt after twenty- five years of ministry. In his confusion he read Henri Nouwen's book, In The Name of Jesus, and found himself wanting "to start listening again to the voice of Jesus." 29 In Nouwen's book we can find the method that began Yaconelli's claim to a newfound voice of Jesus: Through the discipline of contemplative prayer, Christian leaders have to learn to listen again and again to the voice of love and to find there the wisdom and courage to address whatever issue presents itself to them – For Christian leadership to be truly fruitful in the future, a movement from the moral to the mystical is required. 30 Yaconelli took this admonition to heart and is now not only practicing Nouwen's prayer method but is also promoting it through his powerful organization."