An interview with Mike Yaconelli


I was looking around for some materials an stumbled upon this interview with Mike Yaconelli. For those of you who do not have a clue s to who that may be:

Mike Yaconelli (July 24, 1942 — October 30, 2003) was a writer, theologian, church leader and satirist. Co-Founder of Youth Specialties, a training organization for Christian youth leaders, and The Wittenburg Door (sometimes just The Door), a satirical magazine. Yaconelli was also the pastor of a small church in Yreka, CA – “the slowest growing church in America” as he called it.
He and wife Karla used to share their time between Yreka and the Youth Specialties offices in El Cajon, CA.

As well as his contributions to the Wittenburg Door, Yaconelli also wrote a number of books for youth leaders, and was a well-received Christian conference speaker. He was a regular at the Greenbelt festival in the UK. On his last visit to Greenbelt, he said:

“If I were to have a heart attack right at this moment, I hope I would have just enough air in my lungs and just enough strength in me to utter one last sentence as I fell to the floor: “What a ride!” My life has been up and down, careening left then right, full of mistakes and bad decisions, and if I died right now, even though I would love to live longer, I could say from the depths of my soul, “What a ride!”

Source wikipedia

Mike was killed in an automobile accident in 2003.

Reflecting on the man who was his boss and friend, Will Penner once said:

“Mike is the epitome of what it means to be a godly man. He is, without a doubt, the reason that I personally went to work for Youth Specialties and he has been a hero of mine ever since I became a youth minister.”

The interview I am referring to in this post is from the Mars Hill review. Some highlights:

According to most evangelicals you can’t be extreme, you can’t have any anxiety; you have to be in control, everything has to fit, and everything has to make sense. Christianity has to work. Nobody lives like that. I just noticed that Mother Theresa forgave a British columnist for writing a terrible article about her… but my hunch has always been that as great as Mother Theresa may be, and as much as she does the work of God, you probably wouldn’t want to work for her. She is probably very demanding. That’s what makes her so good at what she does. She’s focused. And that’s why some of the pastors of these megachurches are workaholics. They are driven and out of balance, but everyone thinks they’re in great shape.

But what is faith? Is faith fixing everything? Or is faith a kind of deep trust in the erratic, lopsided, crazy, spontaneity of life. Or is it recognizing that in the fog of everydayness, God is at work and that he is actually doing something in me and in you that can be trusted. But instead, the idea of balance becomes a sort of tyranny. I’m convinced that evangelicals in particular are tyrannized by this concept of balance. Our lives have got to work, be fulfilling, and look so good. Nobody lives like that though and nobody experiences that in their own life.

What characterizes Christianity in 1995 is realness and honesty with yourself and God. It’s not your stance on abortion, or homosexuality, or some political issue; it’s that you tell the truth. And that as much as you know how, as honest as you know how to be, God will honor that. You can trust that.

Personally I truly love it to be challenged as it forces you to reconsider your own position and arguments. I think it helps growthin all enses of the word. As for this interview which dates back to 1995, it is as relevant today as it was back then.

We never will because everything is corrupted. You’ll always have pockets of honesty and pockets of pretending. But that’s the great joy of the church and the great calling of the church. Both can co-exist. But then somebody comes along with a glimmer of the truth and all of a sudden it’s being franchised. It becomes a seminar, a book, or a tape, and then it loses its authenticity…

… “Have you seen the latest Door?” And they would say, “No.” So people had to tell about it; they had to retell the stories over and over again. Today though we are in a different place than in the sixties. Today, there is enough money around that if somebody comes around with a glimpse of the truth that sounds fresh and new, the next thing you know it becomes an industry or a business. Then the whole thing is altered and changed and suddenly it loses its life and its power.

I suggest you go now and read the complete, very worthwhile interview here>>>

More on the story of Youth Specialties can be found here >>>

The website of the Wittenburg Door can be found here >>>

From his last book, Messy Spirituality this final quote:

I just want to be remembered as a person who loved God, who served others more than he served himself, who was trying to grow in maturity and stability. I want to have more victories than defeats, yet here I am, almost 60, and I fail on a regular basis.

Mike Yaconelli (July 24, 1942 — October 30, 2003) was a writer, theologian, church leader and satirist. Co-Founder of Youth Specialties,[1] a training organization for Christian youth leaders, and The Wittenburg Door (sometimes just The Door), a satirical magazine,[2] Yaconelli was also the pastor of a small church in Yreka, CA – “the slowest growing church in America” as he called it. He and wife Karla used to share their time between Yreka and the Youth Specialties offices in El Cajon, CA.

As well as his contributions to the Wittenburg Door, Yaconelli also wrote a number of books for youth leaders, and was a well-received Christian conference speaker. He was a regular at the Greenbelt festival in the UK.[1] On his last visit to Greenbelt, he said:

If I were to have a heart attack right at this moment, I hope I would have just enough air in my lungs and just enough strength in me to utter one last sentence as I fell to the floor: “What a ride!” My life has been up and down, careening left then right, full of mistakes and bad decisions, and if I died right now, even though I would love to live longer, I could say from the depths of my soul, “What a ride!”

Mike was killed in an automobile accident in 2003.

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