Open, an experimental youth ministry event

two preliminary comments:
1. someone told me recently that they had stopped reading my blog because it seemed like it was all promotion for stuff i was doing. that bummed me out, particularly because i try really hard not to have that be true. on the other hand, i don’t have mailing lists or marketing budgets, and this is about the only way i have to let people know the awesome stuff The Youth Cartel is doing. so, this being one of a few promo-type posts this week, i apologize. then, i don’t normally blog on fridays, so consider this a bonus anyhow.
2. and, besides, can you believe how many cool things The Youth Cartel is doing? really! c’mon!

adam mclane, the other half of our wee cartel of youthiness, had a dream. he was being chased, naked, through a church by a… no, wait… wrong dream.

adam had a dream: to level the playing field on youth ministry events and provide equal access to anyone with something to say. he knew it wasn’t going to be a big money maker. but adam’s greatest strength is his idealism. Open, the new event we launched yesterday, is the playing out of that dream.

Open will be, hopefully, a series of local, organic, grass roots youth ministry training events, where anyone can be a presenter. in this very early stage (we’re considering it the alpha test, with some betas next years), the people who were passionate about taking the risk with us were in seattle. and since national (and often regional) youth ministry events are never in seattle, or even the pacific northwest, Open Seattle was born.

here’s the Open Manifesto adam wrote:

There aren’t many places in the church where all ideas have the same opportunity to be presented. Everything is editorialized, shaped, and packaged. Every idea is filtered through a lens.

We think something is wrong with that. Deep in our souls we know the solutions to the problems we face today are already out there, waiting to be discovered.

Open is just that. Open. The Youth Cartel sets the table, plays host, and invites anyone and everyone who has an idea to the table for a day where we all have equal value for our ideas. Whether you are a big dog with 20,000 people writing down your every word, a college student with some crazy ideas, or somewhere in between, the table is open–we will give you your shot and equal time to share your idea.

Now that doesn’t mean you will automatically be appreciated or celebrated. It’s an open table and you have the chance to play with the big boys. There will be winners and there will be less-than-winners. Just like everyone has the same shot, everyone undergoes the same scrutiny. The point isn’t that everyone will be equally received, the point is that anyone can have the platform.

No one gets paid to present at Open. Why? That wouldn’t be fair, would it? Those making presentations submit a proposal and chances are good that if they’ve got something to say that’s on topic, they will get a shot. Their only compensation is the chance to present their ideas, and free entry to the day.

So what does it cost? We’ve kept it as simple as possible. Tickets start at $25 for the day. If we sell out early then that’s it. But as we get closer to the day, tickets will naturally get a little more expensive.

True to the premise of Open, we aren’t out to make a lot of money. We are splitting any proceeds for the day equally with a local organizer and a local ministry recipient. We think that’s fair, and we will be 100% open about the money so you know who has made what.

From top to bottom we want Open to be a different type of event. We set the table, invite all, and provide a day where the best stuff filters to the top. Why? Because we trust you. We are in this together. We care deeply about impacting the Kingdom and we know you do too. And we know that low control, high trust openness is the way to get there.

Join us.

Being your ideas, bring your voice, and let’s dream.


This is the driving document for Open Seattle, a new youth ministry event we just announced today. This is the first of what I hope will become a movement of Open events which gather all over to collaborate, celebrate, and innovate within our beloved tribe of youth ministry. The plan is to do two more as an alpha test, one in the Northeast and one in Western Europe. (Hosting info)

A fun story about this manifesto is that I wrote it about 6 months ago. I kind of woke up with this from a dream. It was one of those things that dragged me out of bed and I typed it as fast I could. For weeks I had been thinking about Open, I’d had conversations with about a dozen people about it, but I couldn’t put the whole thing into words until that morning. It’s crazy how creativity works. Sometimes you have to dig to find it and other times it attacks you and you just try to keep up.

2 thoughts on “Open, an experimental youth ministry event”

  1. This is powerful and this will open doors for those in the trenches who don’t feel that they can compete and be equal to those who are in the circle. Their voice will now matter. This is huge. Will be praying for this.

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