Presently within YM, Presence-Centered Youth Ministry is a great book that will engage the young people of the America church. Mike King serves as President of YouthFront, a Youth Ministry organization. YouthFront works to bring youth into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ by creating environments where spiritual transformation occurs, by working with those who are involved in the spiritual formation of youth and by providing church-assisting events. King’s youth ministry experience and expertise is highly evident in Presence-Centered Youth Ministry.
King in chapters 1-3 describes why youth ministry is experiencing much hardship. King argues that youth ministry is playing it too safe and comfortable. He states: The call to follow this true God is not safe or convenient, unlike much of the feel-good, carefree god-think being modeled to our young people today. The present of Jesus in the lives of adolescents who are nurtured by the power of Scripture is not safe, but it’s the essence of presence-centered youth ministry. (47)
King argues in chapters 4-7 what youth pastors and youth ministries need to be in order for their youth ministry to become presence-centered. Youth ministry is about being with youth, not just as a role model or friend but also as a spiritual guide and a traveling companion. (68) There needs to be a new way of doing youth ministry—a youth ministry that experiences and embodies the presence of God. King suggests that when student sense a polished performance and impeccable image, students are immediately turned off. Research reminds us that students are suspicious of bigness, of advertising and ego trips. They want churches to be down to earth and unpretentious. (74)
Chapters 8- 11 illustrates how to implement a presence-centered youth ministry. He suggests the practices of: listening prayer, imaginative prayer, prayer postures, providing signs of the cross, praying with icons, storytelling, incent prayers, sacred reading and contemplation, and lectio divina. King also refers to a website to obtain more presence centered activities: www.sacredgateway.org.
I loved how passionate King was about creating environments that experience God’s presence. King wants a youth ministry to connect to the early church and tradition, embody their faith, explore the challenge and cost of being a disciple of Jesus, connect between personal faith and a faith community, arrange a tangible expression of faith within a local community, emphasize on being a servant and living out faith, emphasize on classic Christian formation, and deemphasize the activities that do not lead to genuine transformation. Encountering God’s presence will bring forth transformation.