Tag Archives: the youth cartel

The Summit that was

before The Youth Cartel even officially existed, i started dreaming about an event for youth workers somewhat fashioned around TED. but when adam joined me a little over a year ago, we chose to move it from idea to risk. we spent some time refining the idea, and set out a few “fleeces,” little bridges we needed to cross in order to feel an initial sense that we weren’t merely smoking our own idealism. we agreed that we would launch if, within a couple months, we were able to get:

1. a good location that would host the event for free
2. three presenters who would agree to participate with our “profit sharing” approach
3. one partner organization who believed in what we were trying to do, and would help with a bit of capital and some marketing

all three were fulfilled within one week.

so, for months and months, our little dream of an event that was fine-tuned for sparking ideas, trusting attendees, and doing things differently played out as the two of us revised speaker lists (starting with topics rather than speakers), created a website and videos, reworked budgets, made multiple to-do lists and spreadsheets of logistical details our company of two needed to pull off.

going into this past weekend — i’ll admit — i was more anxious and nervous than i’d been approaching a youth ministry event in many, many years. maybe it just felt like so much was riding on it (probably an overstatement; but that’s how it felt). as adam and i drove to the airport in san diego last wednesday (along with our friend tash mcgill, who’d flown in from new zealand to be our third emcee), we remarked that this sort of felt like a “coming of age” event for the cartel.

fast forward to session one, on friday evening: this session was focused on “the here and now,” with 6 presenters giving 12-minute talks on a facet of our current reality. halfway through mark moore’s opening talk, i started to calm down. i knew, somewhere inside, that it was working. when we transitioned from that first session to the first “digging deeper” session, where attendees chose one of the 6 presenters to spend an additional 45 minutes with, in a dialogue about contextualization and application, i started feeling thankful. every room had a grip of highly-engaged youth workers mixing it up with the presenters, leaning in (both literally and conceptually), wrestling and imagining and dreaming and asking and reflecting.

saturday’s “peripheral vision” session (6 presenters from other fields who we could learn something from — a hotspot of divergent thinking), and “horizon” session (5 presenters sharing a facet of where we might be or should be headed), continued to build my awe. it wasn’t awe in myself or adam. i was awed by god’s spirit, awed by thoughtful youth workers who were passionate about being stirred up, awed by speakers who stuck around as participants, awed by partners who helped us own the event (so far beyond being ‘exhibitors’), awed by seasoned communicators who — every single one of them — didn’t bring their shtick but worked hard to create original and compelling presentations that fit the uniqueness of the event (and awed when they gushed about being involved, even when our attendance of 200 people didn’t allow for hardly any of the “profit share” that might have been), awed by the conversations that just didn’t stop — in the lobby and hallways and the breakfast area of the hotel and even a couple pubs.

a few particularly memorable moments (there are way too many to list):

– gosh: i hardly know how to not cite something from every single presenter. seriously, there was not a single dud, not even one partial dud. but i’ll be thinking about brock morgan’s presentation about reaching teenagers in a post-christian culture for a long time. i’ll be thinking about what we learned from amanda drury about the role of testimony in the identity and faith formation of teenagers. i’ll be noodling more on bobby john’s quiet and gentle words about risk, and how my response is more important than the risk itself. and greg ellison’s staring us all down, for a quiet that seemed to last forever, then telling us all how it’s good to see us, as he’d been praying for us for weeks — that awkward/beautiful moment was surely memorable.

– countless people who paid to be there offered help. i was regularly moved by the question, “what can i do for you?” and when i started taking people up on those offers, they carried some of the load with confidence and completion.

– our partner organizations didn’t just exhibit. they hung out with people, engaged in lengthy conversations (and not just about their organizations). it reminded me of my experience at zappos, when i sat with a phone rep and listed in on a 90-minute conversation with a lonely guy who wanted to exchange a pair of shoes he’d bought for his mom.

– and then there was uncle wally. we didn’t want this event to have fluff. we were intent on an event that wasn’t a dog and pony show. but we knew we needed a few “breathers”, a taste of sorbet to pause between the courses of the meal. chris coleman was wonderful in leading worship. bone hampton gifted us with laughter. a classical guitar player brought a quiet touch of beauty. but an old hawaiian dude named uncle wally was the surprise hit. wally hobbled up to the stage with his ukulele and wide-brimmed hawaiian hat and played a few songs. he led everyone in a goofy little sing-along song that — in the magic you can only hope for when planning something like that — was embraced by the crowd (geez, he was like the hero of the event).

leading up to the event, it was starting to look more and more likely that we would repeat this thing. but during the event it shifted to “absolutely.” so, it’s official: The Summit 2013 will take place in atlanta on november 8 and 9. we sure hope you’ll join us!

i’ll wrap with this tweet from one of the presenters — april diaz:

Telling lots of people today that @YouthCartel #thesummit was the best “youth ministry” conference I’ve ever been too.

it’s not too late to register for The Summit (and, Terrace Crawford’s Q&A with me about it)

yesterday, the one and only terrace crawford posted a series of questions he asked me about The Summit and The Youth Cartel. with terrace’s permission, i’m gonna re-post it here, since he asked questions i liked!

terrace: What is The Summit?
me: It’s a youth ministry training event; but our intention has always been to do something very different than the many other excellent training events offered in the youth ministry world. For those familiar with TED, you can probably see how it was somewhat of an inspiration for The Summit. We want to stir imaginations and spark creativity in thinking about each attendee’s unique context. We’re not promoting a particular approach, or suggesting a methodology, because we firmly believe that–today, more than ever–those approaches and methodologies need to be spiritually discerned, unique, and contextually appropriate. So, think of The Summit as the “chemical agent” intended to bring about a combustable reaction leading to change!

terrace: How does the event set itself a part from other youth ministry conferences?
me: To be clear, The Summit is not a “skills training” event. It’s an IDEA event. We believe that by bringing together a group of carefully selected presenters, each giving short, concise talks based on ideas that should shape our thinking and practice, youth workers will leave buzzing with applicable and unique thoughts about the “new things” God might want to do in their ministries.

To that end, each of the first three sessions will have five or six presenters, each giving a 12 – 15 minute talk on an area of expertise. Each session is grouped under a theme umbrella; so there’s a sense where the presenters in each session will each share a unique facet of the same cut gem. After each of these sessions, attendees will self-select one of the presenters with whom to spend another 45 minutes in what we’re calling “Digging Deeper.” The presenters are preparing these times not as further lecture, but as a guided interaction toward contextualization for everyone in the room.

terrace: I love the theme “Panorama: A Big Picture of Youth Ministry — Past, Present, Future.” I noticed many of the speakers aren’t youth workers. Do you think these presenters will be able to help discern where youth ministry is at or needs to go?
me: Actually, the session themes are “Here and Now: Naming our Current Reality,” “Peripheral Vision: Voices from Other Fields,” and “The Horizon: Where We Could or Should Be Headed.” In the first and third of those, all but two of the presenters are youth workers (of various sorts). It’s just that second session where we were intentional about bringing in voices from other fields of study or practice that we think have something we could learn from. So, on one hand: yes, i totally think these presenters can help us discern where youth ministry needs to go. But on the other hand: I don’t think it’s the role of the presenters (or me, or any other youth ministry speaker or youth ministry organization) to, ultimately, tell youth workers where they need to go. Youth workers need to exercise their own spiritual discernment, listening to the Holy Spirit’s guidance about what God is calling them to do in their unique context. The event is an aid to that process, rather than the answer(s) to that question.

By the way: I look at that second session (Peripheral Vision), and am just blown away by the line-up. That session alone would be something leaders in other organizations would pay a grand or two to hear. I’m really looking forward to every aspect of the event; but, honestly, that’s the session I’m salivating to hear (sorry, let me wring out my beard).

terrace: I really like how a couple of the sessions are followed up by time to have teams wrestle with application to the big ideas shared at the event. What do you hope this will accomplish? Any expectations?
me: I suppose I mostly answered this one already! But, yes, we really wrestled with how to make the event more than just hearing from 18 gifted presenters. With that many ideas flying around, it could easily feel like drinking from a fire hose, right? So, we came up with those Digging Deeper sessions as a way for youth workers to, well, dig deeper on three of the topics that really caught their attention or heart or curiosity. If those unfold as we hope they will, I think they’ll massively multiply the take-home value of the event.

terrace: What’s next for The Youth Cartel? Do you plan to bring these special events back next year?
me: Man, we have so many things going on, it’s just crazy! We’re publishing now, and have our 3rd and 4th books coming out at The Summit; and we have another six or so titles coming out in the next 6 – 9 months. The Middle School Ministry Campference was a massive success last weekend (its second year), and we’re definitely repeating that. Our Open events kicked off with Open Seattle a few weeks ago (which surpassed all expectations); and we have Open Boston and Open Paris in the first half of 2013. The Youth Ministry Coaching Program is moving forward: I’m close to wrapping up a cohort that’s been meeting in San Antonio; I’m starting a new Nashville cohort in January (there’s still space for one or two people, btw); We’re launching a Canadian cohort in December; and I have two online groups starting in December with the beta-test of the new YMCPv. I’m still writing lots of stuff, and have a couple more books coming out with Simply Youth Ministry in the next few months, plus a JH Bible I general edited coming out with Thomas Nelson mid-year 2013. And, our consulting roster is full of wonderful organizations we’re honored to partner with.

terrace: Any last minute notes for those who aren’t registered?
me: It really isn’t too late! The event, in Atlanta, is next Friday and Saturday (November 9 and 10). If you’re in driving distance, deciding to attend at this late date is totally do-able. There are cheap hotels very near the event location. And, heck, this amazing event–even at this late date–is still under a hundred and fifty bucks (plus, everyone will be getting freebies worth about $50!). And, hey, if you want to attend, and can’t even afford that, shoot me an email ([email protected]), and I’ll do what I can to help you out.

masterpiece: the art of discipling youth

i’d met paul martin previously; but i didn’t know him well. so, at the first or second meeting of the youth ministry coaching program cohort he participated in (about two years ago), i was stunned when paul presented his thoughts about discipleship. it wasn’t that i disagreed — not in the least. my being stunned was more a factor of hearing someone be so articulate, talking about a subject i was somewhat familiar with, but introducing so many new words and concepts that helped me think in new ways. i’m not spinning this at all when i write: i remember the exact spot i was in, in nashville, when i thought to myself (and may have said out loud), “you need to write this as a book!”

fast forward two years, and here we are: it’s a book.

i’m SO pleased to announce paul’s book, being published by The Youth Cartel:

Masterpiece: The Art of Discipling Youth

here’s the back cover copy:

Masterpiece. That’s how Paul the Apostle describes us in his letter to the church in Ephesus. We are God’s masterpiece. Most people never hear that phrase. Even fewer will believe it. Masterpiece: The Art of Discipling Youth uncovers the process of revealing teenagers as the masterpieces Christ created them to be. It doesn’t approach discipleship with a blank slate, sketching with small groups or painting with programs. Instead, it focuses on revealing the art that is already under the surface of every teenager, removing the grime of life and restoring the vibrancy of the true colors underneath.

This book is for youth workers who are tired of canned meetings geared towards the masses. Veteran youth worker Paul Martin shares his process for recognizing individual youth as what they are: God’s masterpiece.

here’s what dr. andrew root (author of so many fantastic youth ministry books, including The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry and Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry) wrote about paul’s book:

I know Paul Martin as a thoughtful person and it comes as no surprise that his first book is a thoughtful one. This is a book that will push you deeply to think differently, but this push comes with the compassion of a pastor’s heart and a deep passion for the possibility of discipleship itself. If you have an interest in discipleship this is a book you must take a look at, it will change your youth ministry.

we’re taking pre-orders on The Youth Cartel store right now, for a december 1 release. the book will be $12.99 then, but the pre-order price is 25% off (or $9.74). and, yes, it will be available for kindle and in the apple ibook store also.

Rachel Blom’s review of A Beautiful Mess

one of the bloggers to break onto the top 25 youth ministry blogs list this year, rachel blom, published a nice review of A Beautiful Mess on her blog: Youth Leader’s Academy. she posted this a long time ago, and i’ve had it sitting in my drafts folder for months. i’ve since gotten to know rachel in real-world, not only online world; and was so pleased to see her blog make the top 25 list this year. i encourage you to follow her blog. and, of course, i encourage you — as rachel clearly does — to pick up a copy (or 10) of A Beautiful Mess!

Mark Oestreicher (across the globe known as Marko) has written a very un-Marko-ish book. His usual style is to provoke, address, and criticize. In a loving manner, absolutely, but he’s usually on a crusade of some kind to point out what needs to change in youth ministry.

In this new book A beautiful mess he is on a crusade as well, but an entirely different one. He actually wants to encourage us youth leaders, that we’re doing an awesome job. He wants to show us what we’re doing right in youth ministry. How very, very encouraging for a change!

He shows a few trends he thinks are making youth ministry headed in the right direction, like theological reflection and the integration of teens instead of the isolation they often face in church and in their whole world.

Now Marko wouldn’t be Marko is he didn’t throw in some very sharp observations here and there like this one:

What we don’t need is to replace one technology (“programs are the answer!”) with another technology (“post-programming is the answer!”).

There’s, as always, food for thought in his writings, the kind you’ll need to chew on for a while.

99 Thoughts on Raising Your Parents

with my daughter, liesl, starting her 9-month gap year experience in europe and india, and with my son, max, starting high school last week, my kids have been on my mind quite a bit. so, it’s funny that i forgot to announce here on my blog that the three of us — me, liesl and max — wrote a book that recently released!

it was a blast writing a book with my kids. we went on a 3-day retreat to my silent place in the california desert and framed the whole thing, getting some of it written. then we came back to it a month or so later on a vacation and spent a few more days. they really did write a big chunk of it, and we all spoke into each other’s writing, tweaking and plussing.

anyhow: it’s a book for teenagers, in simply youth ministry’s “99 thoughts” line. it’s available anywhere you buy books, but we’re selling it on The Youth Cartel store, of course. parents, order one for your teenager! youth workers, pick up a case!

here’s the back cover copy:

99 Thoughts on Raising Your Parents: Living the Sweet Life at Home

Liesl and Max Oestreicher aren’t perfect teenagers, and they’re the first to admit it. They get in trouble, they fight with their parents (and each other), and they frustrate their teachers from time to time.

But they do have something that a lot of teenagers really wish they had: a better than average relationship with their parents.

99 Thoughts on Raising Your Parents is filled with ideas from this sister-and-brother duo on having fun as a family, appreciating why moms and dads do what they do, and finding the best ways to handle arguments and disagreements with your parents. (They’ll also divulge a few secrets about rules, independence, and getting permission!)

Even though the teenage years aren’t easy, you’ll find that a little bit of patience, understanding, and communication will go a long way toward experiencing a more solid relationship with your parents, and Liesl and Max are ready to be your guides along the way!

top 7 reasons today is a big deal

7 is, of course, the holy number. so, in keeping with that, here are the top 7 reasons today is a big deal:

  1. it’s the beginning of a long weekend (well, if you live in the states — sorry to my global friends).
  2. it’s the early bird deadline for The Summit. prices go up twenty clams tomorrow. here’s the snarky, manipulative email The Youth Cartel send out about it this morning.
  3. it’s the last day to enter the ipad contest sponsored by our friends at the youth culture report. all the details are here — but we’re giving out TWO ipads (one for peeps who follow the instructions at that link, and another to a randomly chosen person already registered for The Summit). i promise you, these are the best odds you will ever have in a win-an-ipad contest, other than the contest where you go to an apple store and shout “i’m a winner” then buy an ipad for yourself.
  4. it’s the last day to enter the contest for a FREE registration to The Summit in partnership with our friends at 30 hour famine. we’ve been giving away a free registration every day this week over on their twitter feed, and as i write this, there are only a few entries so far today (meaning, it would be pretty easy to win!). click here for instructions.
  5. it’s the last day to get free mp3s of ALL 18 talks from The Summit. all early bird registrations automatically receive them. we’re not even sure yet if we’re going to make these recordings available to anyone else.
  6. it’s the 12th day of the 14 day cleanse i’m doing. i haven’t had caffeine or hardly anything in 12 days. in fact, i’ve not eaten anything other than water, carrot juice and apples for 12 days. 12 DAYS I TELL YOU! i can’t wait for monday.
  7. it’s friday!

hey kids! it’s the summit word search!

hey kids! pull out a number two pencil, and have fun with this word search! (don’t write on your computer screen though, silly! you can click on the pic and print it out, or download this PDF!) all the words are perfect for describing The Summit, the TED-like youth ministry event taking place in atlanta this november 9-10.

oh! and there’s more! the early bird deadline for The Summit is this coming friday. the prices for this puppy are a low, low $129 for groups and $149 for individuals. but they both go up twenty clams saturday.

oh! and there’s more! if you register by the early bird deadline, you are automatically entered in a drawing for an ipad, thanks to our friends at the youth culture report.

oh! and there’s more! if you register by the early bird deadline, you get access to FREE mp3s of all the presentations. that’s got to be a $3000 value or something.

have fun!

The Youth Cartel annual shareholder meeting

if you’ve interacted with or supported The Youth Cartel this past year, then you’re a shareholder. this thing is open, man.

but, i’m guessing you may have missed the annual shareholder meeting, held recently in a very exclusive location. good thing we filmed it for you!

The Youth Cartel Shareholder Meeting from The Youth Cartel on Vimeo.

(oh, also, did you hear the news that we’re giving away two ipads in a little contest right now where your chances of winning — compared to other contests like this — are ridiculously high?)

The Youth Cartel is giving away TWO iPads!

no joke. our friends at the youth culture report — partners of ours on The Summit — are helping us give away TWO ipads. for reals.

here’s how it works. click this link and follow the instructions to “join the cartel” (basically, this means you’re liking us on facebook and joining our email list). that’s it. do that — even if you’ve already liked our facebook page and are on our email list — and you get one entry for one of the ipads. and, if you use the supplied link (after signing up), posting it on your twitter or facebook page, and 5 of your friends use it, you get a 2nd entry.

that’s for the first ipad.

the 2nd ipad will be given away to a randomly selected person who’s registered for The Summit, during the week following the august 31 early-bird deadline. in other words, sign up for The Summit by the early bird date, and you’re automatically registered to win this 2nd ipad. in contest terms, your chances of winning this baby (assuming you’re registered for The Summit) are really high!

oh, and help us spread the word!

top 25 youth ministry blogs

in case you missed it on The Youth Cartel blog, my partner in crime adam mclane has once again crunched the numbers and produced his annual list of the top youth ministry blogs (this year going to 25).

since people often ask how the list was formed, let me have adam speak for himself:

How is the list created?
The list is based on a composite score of 66% publicly available statistics, such as Alexa and Google Page Rank, and 33% an influence rank voted based on a vote by the previous year’s top bloggers. The first step is to research the publicly available statistics for the 150+ blogs on the index. Next, I rank the statistical strength of each blog. Then, I ask those currently on the list to rate each of the Top 50 blogs for influence. Finally, the human ranking is added in with the statistical rankings to create the composite ranking published here.

whyismarko dropped a position this year, due to doug fields entering the world of blogging (good on ya’, doug). but i’m thrilled to still be at #3, and am glad to see adam at #4 and the still-new Youth Cartel blog come in at #14.

other observations:

  • like many of you, i wish there were more female bloggers on the list. there are 3 (since the FYI blog is 1/2 kara powell), including newcomer rachel blom. but i wish there were more.
  • i wish there were more non-evangelicals on the list. heck, i’m an evangelical — but i would prefer more diversity, as i like to be stretched by thinking that’s not always similar to my own.
  • i’m thrilled to see SEVEN blogs make the list that weren’t on it last year! that’s fantastic.
  • there are a handful of blogs that i so strongly wish had made the cut. i have to believe it’s just because not enough people know about them. some of those (off the top of my head) include: brian berry, paul martin, joel mayward, rj grunewald, brooklyn lindsey, youthHOPE, and scott milller (all excellent youth ministry blogs that i follow).

ok, enough of that. here’s the 2012 list of the top 25 youth ministry blogs:

2012 Rank Name URL 2011 Rank
1 Josh Griffin http://www.morethandodgeball.com/ 1
2 Doug Fields http://dougfields.com 7
3 Mark Oestreicher http://whyismarko.wpengine.com 2
4 Adam McLane http://adammclane.com 4
5 Jonathan McKee http://blog.thesource4ym.com/ 10
6 Tim Schmoyer http://studentministry.org 3
7 Fuller Youth Institute http://fulleryouthinstitute.org/ 8
8 Adam Walker Cleaveland http://pomomusings.com/ 6
9 Kurt Johnston http://www.juniorhighministry.com/ 19
10 Youth Specialties http://youthspecialties.com/blog 5
11 Brian Kirk, Jacob Thorne rethinkingyouthministry.com 13
12 youthministry360 youthministry360.com NR
13 Jeremy Zach http://www.reyouthpastor.com 9
14 Greg Stier gregstier.org 16
14 The Youth Cartel http://theyouthcartel.com/blog/ NR
16 Ian MacDonald http://www.youthblog.org 12
17 Walt Mueller http://learningmylines.blogspot.com/ 18
18 Youth Leader Stash youthleaderstash.com NR
19 Chuck Bomar http://www.collegeministrythoughts.com/ NR
20 Rachel Blom http://www.youthleadersacademy.com NR
21 Mike King http://king.typepad.com/mike_king/ 17
21 Jake Bouma http://www.jakebouma.com/ NR
23 Kenda Creasy Dean http://kendadean.com/ 20
24 Matt McGill http://lovegodlovestudents.com NR
25 Terrace Crawford http://terracecrawford.com/ 19