It won’t mean much to any of you, but Mike Yaconelli died yesterday. He was 61. It was a one car accident. He was the youth minister’s youth minister.
From the Youth Specialties (the organization he co-owned) web site:
“The number of lives touched by Mike is beyond what we could even estimate. He is the father of modern youth ministry in many minds. Through his books, speaking engagements, and YS events, he has ministered to untold thousands all over the world.
Mike dedicated his life to what God had called him to do. He believed in youth ministry, and did all he could to equip youth workers to change the lives of students. He lived with a passion that was unmatched. He was the incarnation of his book titles, Dangerous Wonder and Messy Spirituality; he lived a life of wonder and amazement at God’s grace. He never claimed to be perfect; he just lived as he was—a man after God’s own heart.”
I didn’t know him at all. I saw him speak probably 10 or 12 times…and each time came away amused, or refreshed, or challenged, or with rekindled vision and/or passion.
But for some reason, this hurts. The kind of hurt that make you want to fire up the blender, create some adult beverage and just forget about it (I won’t). Why the hurt? I guess it’s because there’s no greater feeling in the world than to be “gotten” (it’s from line I heard in a movie, but it’s pretty accurate) and I like to think I “got” Mike.
Those two paragraphs from the press release don’t really seem like much…but some of us can read between the lines and know what they really mean. I don’t think there’s higher praise for a youth minister…except when teenagers stroll up to him in The Kingdom and say “thanks.” He’ll have that plenty.
When it’s my time to go, a couple of paragraphs like those wouldn’t be a bad way to be remembered…as long as there was a group of folks to read between the lines and “get it.”