5 // 2014

Dancing with Mark Yaconelli

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Let me be honest. I heard about the 'surprise' ending to the Youthwork Summit on the way up to Manchester. I was underwhelmed. Youth ministry legend Mark Yaconelli disco dancing? Really? The author of 'Contemplative Youth Ministry' busting some moves to end this event that the team had poured so much into? To be frank, I dismissed it as a cheap gimmick. I was wrong.

At that moment, as the lights cut out and I found myself sneaking to the front to strut my stuff with 'The Yac,' it suddenly struck me that this was going to work. Maybe it was the charisma, life and love that had shone through Mark over the previous three days. Perhaps it was the culmination of a day where God had consistently taken my expectations and blew them out of the water, or possibly that I just decided to trust a man who knows far more about youth work than I ever will.

Those of you who paid close attention during those closing moments will have noticed something: I can't dance. I've never been able to dance (by brief dalliance with ballet as a 3-year old notwithstanding), and disco-ing in front of hundreds of people filled me with dread. I had to go for it. I did. Myself and the genius that is Tom Wade jumped on to the stage, throwing shapes all over the shop, and then, everything fell into place. It worked. This worked. And somehow, it was all coming from here. The party livened up, and suddenly youthworkers all over the room were gone, caught up in the disco-enfused moment, throwing a Manchester party that Mario Balotelli himself would have been proud of.

The funny thing about dancing is that it's infectious. You may have seen the series of videos 'Where is Matt,' and there is a weird-truth buried in there. I love the final clip he did, dancing all over the world once again, but this time, halfway through, people started to join in. People all over the world dancing this strange little dance done by this odd-looking man.

Whenever I see it I can't help but think that's our job.

We're called to dance. To share this truth with young people of this God and this life, to portray something so affirming and infectious that young people can't help but be captivated, can't help but to join in.

You can't make someone dance, they have to decide for themselves. But the moment you start dancing, it's suddenly an invitation for anyone that sees you to join in. That's our calling, to live and share a life so infectious that young people can't help but want to join in.

So go on, dance. Dance for joy, dance to invite or just dance because Mark Yaconelli asked you to.

Jamie Cutteridge is Youthwork magazine's editorial intern. You can follow him now @JamieCutteridge