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Much of that book was developed through his teaching and work with the Youth Ministry and Spirituality Project. "Growing Souls" is an attempt to deepen and expand the conversation regarding contemplative youth ministry by presenting the work of the project and giving voice to the scholars, youth workers, pastors, and youth who shared in its work.
Growing Souls by Mark Yaconelli was published by SPCK in July 2007 and is our 34175th best seller. The ISBN for Growing Souls is 9780281059379.
This book is written in acknowledgement that youth ministry culture has often become increasingly frantic, consumerist, dull, formulaic and spiritually stunted. However much of the thought in the book is applicable to other aspects of church life and it's a helpful read for those who don't play any part in youth ministry as well as for those for whom it is primarily written. The explanation of the busyness and frantic nature of much youth ministry, focusing mainly on fun activities and moral guidance rather than building young people with souls, was a timely reminder of the way that many churches have bought into the world's views on success and business-like methods as the be-all and end-all.
The first section is an introduction to contemplative youth ministry and how the programme of the YMSP (Youth Ministry and Spirituality Project) came about. The second section looks more closely at two specific churches and the way in which this new form of youth ministry works within those churches. The third section is an interview with many youth leaders from the churches that have been involved in the pilot projects and also with some of the youth who have been at these projects. The last section sums up the results of ten years of the youth ministry project and describes in more detail some of the problems that were encountered on the way. There are some helpful appendices which provide information on some of the methods used during the project.
The section that describes the experiences of two of these churches was fascinating, as were the apparent effects on the rest of the church, not just the youth section. What was interesting was that only three or four out of the original sixteen churches involved in the project had found that their churches really embraced this way of ministry and that in some cases the project contributed to instability in the church - sometimes church pastors or other parts of the churches shut the projects down and sometimes, even if the project continued to run, it created something of a wedge between youth and main church. However the overwhelming feeling from reading this book is that contemplative prayer is a vital tool for the youth leader who wants to build spiritually mature young people and "an attempt to counter the isolation, hyperactivity and emphasis on efficiency that plagues ministries with youth... an intervention to heal the more destructive aspects of the way youth ministry is often practised within a western context," even if many churches aren't yet ready for it or able to practise it.
My only reservation about the book was that it didn't address whether some young people couldn't relate to the more contemplative approach and therefore didn't stay involved with the churches studied; I imagine this could be the case but it wasn't specifically mentioned. However it was an enlightening book to read and it showed that this method can be of immense value to both the young people and also to the adult youth leaders and others involved in bringing the next generation of Christians into a deeper faith.
|Author / Artist||Mark Yaconelli|
|Publisher||SPCK (July 2007)|
|Number of Pages||256|
|Page last updated||14th September 2018|