First Third Conversations

Place Matters: A Reflection on Mike King's Presentation

By Dr. Nancy Going

Place matters.

Mike King looks at both the church and the process of faith formation from a pretty unique perspective.  Longevity.   He has lived in Kansas City his whole life, and served the same parachurch organization—Youthfront for 36 years.  His organization figures that something like 1/4 of the population of the Kansas City area has been through their Youthfront camps. 

 That is impressive in and of itself.  But Mike’s longevity in ministry at Youthfront in Kansas City allows him to see things about the development of faith that many of the rest of us haven’t gotten to see.  Like what works. Over time.  Over a lifetime. 

 Mike’s call is that place matters and speaks to the core of our human experience, although many of us have become numb to it.  And he lands in developing places that encourage new spaces for spiritual practices.  He sees the role of the youth minister as not running programs, but rather as “curating environments.”

 Anyone who has gone back to a place where you’ve had spiritual  (or other) experiences can tell you that some of those experiences are recalled--and not just in memory--when you are in that place again.  God has also clearly invested in place, otherwise why did Eden or the Promised Land matter so much? And why do they still?

 Because God came to earth in time and place.  He did that in Jesus and does it still  in and through both the Spirit and us.  When we forget to build ministry around this reality we actually keep God at bay.  And from the vantage point of Kansas City, Mike has seen the ways that God works to form us that come through Spirit and people and yes, place.

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.  We saw the glory with our own eyes—John 1:14.   The Message

There you go.  Another Christmas. In your place. 

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