Contemplation isn’t just being still. As Parker Palmer once wrote, “At root, contemplation and action are the same.” As our youth ministry becomes infused with contemplative prayer and awareness, the effect is not more prayer and silence; instead, what begins to emerge is authentic action.
I’ve been thinking about some of the books that have encouraged me to explore contemplative practices, some I guess are a little more formal while others use a variety of contemplative ideas and others still are theological readers to youth ministry and contemplative practices. The first book I think that people should read after or before, or alongside Contemplative Youth Ministry is Kenda Creasy Dean and Ron Foster’s book “God-Bearing Life” it’s an older text nowdays and probably not as well known (probably due to being printed by Upper Room Books). God-Bearing Life is one of the first youth ministry texts that caused me to drool, to realise that my gut was right, that there was indeed much more to this ministry thing than egg races and water fights.
The next book is a must read, Way to Live by Dorothy Bass is a book written by a number of young people wrking with adult mentors, what’s exciting about this text is that it also comes with a large leaders guide that gives instructions to practices like Lectio Divinia. I’ve used the book as a personal guide, and also as a great resource to introduce young people to more contemplative experiences of worship and conversation. You can download the leaders guide without buying the book from the website: http://waytolive.org/ I cannot encourage you enough to check this out.
The next book I’m going to reccomend is not a christian one, it’s The Grief Book: Strategies for Young Peopleby Elizabeth Vercoe/Kerry Abramowski. this book is one of the most important books in my shelf at the moment, and it’s written by Aussies. The Grief Book is full of practices and rituals for young people to practice in times of grief, and while it’s not religious many of the practices are very much contemplative resources for young people.
Moving on I’ll reccomend Tony Jones’ book “The Sacred Way” because it’s basically a guide book to a number of spiritual disciplines including the Ignatian Exam, The Labyrinth, Fasting, Centering Prayer and the Daily Office. This is a handbook for people wanting to explore any number of disciplines that can feed into their exploration of contemplative practices if they want to move on from the examples in the Contemplative Youth Ministry book.
If you want some hard core reading on spiritual disciplines then the series of books spawned by Dorothy Bass’ book “Practicing Our Faith” a book that invited a number of authors to write chapters on a variety of ways for us to practice our faith from honouring the Sabbath to Tithing. I’d encourage everyone to give “Practicing Our Faith” a read, and, if they’re inspired by the read to pick up the books in the Practices of Faith Series.
of course the YMSP website also has a long list of books that people might also want to read
There is no greater gift we can give our youth than our full and loving attention.