Tag Archives: seismos

seismos 2011

last year, i had a blast leading the dialogue at a small event for youth workers called seismos. a youth worker (and blogger) in canton, ohio, named joel daniel harris, puts this event together as a labor of love. in 2011, joel daniel is hosting two seismos events.

the “north” location (march 28-30, in lakeville, oh) will feature theologian and uber-blogger scot mcknight. i’ve had scot as a guest for a similar event years ago, and know that the discussion will be rich and valuable. here’s the description:

Envisioning a Theologically Responsible Youth Ministry
facilitated by Scot McKnight & Joel Daniel Harris
For our North gathering in 2011, we’ll be exploring with Scot what it looks like to have a youth ministry that balances both orthodoxy and orthopraxy well…that is to have grounded beliefs behind the actions that we take and to teach in such a way that leads to action. With many students today graduating out of our youth ministry and quickly leaving their faith, we’ll be taking a closer look at what we teach and why it doesn’t seem to stick. What about our practices may need to change?

and i’ll be hosting the dialogue at the “south” location (may 9-11, in weaverville, nc). joel daniel has asked me to focus on the same subject we addressed at the north event last year:

Adolescent Brain Development
facilitated by Mark Oestreicher & Joel Daniel Harris
In the last 20 years researchers have been able to explore and understand the brain in ways never before considered. This has led to an explosive amount of knowledge that is worthy of consideration as youth pastors as to how these developments should affect the way that we design and practice youth ministry. It also raises questions of our responsibility to act as responders to or shapers of adolescent culture. Sure to be an enthralling and challenging conversation, come prepared with your thinking caps!

here’s what’s cool about seismos:
1. it’s a dialogue. scot and i won’t be presenting hours and hours of seminar content. we’ll be facilitating a discussion.
2. it’s small. each event is limited to 40 people. so everyone’s voice is heard and the conversation is intimate.
3. it’s cheap. less than a hundred bucks for reg, lodging and meals.

the early bird deadline for both events is this saturday (jan 15). but even if you can’t make your decision that fast, it’s still cheap. and i strongly encourage you to check it out. everything you need is on the seismos 2011 website.

youth ministry in light of adolescent brain development

these past couple days, i was at a small gathering of youth workers in millersburg, ohio (not far from canton), called seismos. joel daniel harris organized this event last year, focusing on youth ministry 3.0, after ys canceled the “future of youth ministry summit” he had planned on attending. this year, he asked me to join them as a conversation facilitator, with a focus on adolescent brain development. everyone had (in theory) read barbara strauch’s important book, the primal teen, in preparation. there were about 30 youth workers present, and our dialogue was rich (as were the times of play!).

two of the guys there, in particular, have been blogging notes. here are some of their posts:

from tom roepke…

seismos 2010 – the adolescent brain day 1

seismos 2010 – day 2 – “journey not destination”

siesmos 2010 – the image of a 15year old disciple

seismos 2010 – day 3 – the practical

from adam lehman…

seismos 2010 – rules of engagement

great quotes from seismos 2010

a 15 year-old disciple #seismos2010

faith development in relation to brain development

failure friendly youth ministry

i’m guessing both guys, along with joel daniel, will be posting more in the days to come; so check back to their blogs for more.


last year, a bunch of youth workers in the midwest gathered for a dialogue around the ideas in youth ministry 3.0. i followed joel harris’s blogging about their conversations, and thought it was a very cool gathering — robust dialogue about youth ministry.

here’s how joel describes the event:

The goal of Seismos when it was started was to host a gathering (not a conference) of youth pastors that promoted dialogue and discussion among participants, was affordable, and dealt with issues that were relevant to the youth ministry that we love. Last year was a great start, with a gathering of 20 youth pastors from 4 states discussing “Youth Ministry 3.0” for three days. The conversations begun during these three days have had lasting results in our ministries, in our continued relationships, and in our personal lives.

so i was stoked when they asked me to join them this year for the second seismos event. check out joel’s post about it here. we’ll be wrestling with adolescent brain development (and its implications) as our primary theme. the event is cheap, and should be a kick.

it’s limited to 40 people, and is currently half-filled. so if you’re in illlinois, indiana, ohio, michigan or something else in that general vacinity, consider joining us!

a ym3.0 cohort (seismos, part 3 and 4)

seismosa group of 17 youth workers have been meeting to wrestle with the ideas in youth ministry 3.0 on a 3-day retreat. i posted parts 1 and 2 of their notes (from joel daniel’s blog) here.

here’s part 3, where the group identified the questions they’d like to consider discussing (this looks much like the process we use at our JH pastor’s summit each year):

-is the shift we’re feeling in youth ministry just a reflection of a shift we’re feeling in a larger church? how does this engage with newsweek/blog/etc articles

-how does the age bracket shift in adolescence affect what we do?

-are we pushing into adulthood prematurely or too much?

-as we sense a shift in youth ministry, how do we wisely do this in a church that may or may not be accepting?

-how do we engage the whole church in a holistic picture of ministry?

-what are the things we fear about change?

-how do we bridge sub-cultures? or should we try? is it ok to let students solely identify with their own affinity groups?

-what are best practices for partnering together & supporting various ministries?

-what defines adolescence? who defines adolescence?

-what do we think affinity is?

-how does story affect what we do? what is story?

-what’s 4.0? if we’re always behind the cultural curve as Christians, how can we get ahead of it &/or create culture instead of respond to it?

-what about programming? is there any redemptive piece of it? (endnote #54, pg 72)

-do we balance the stool or do we lean on one? prioritization versus throwing stuff out? what if it’s not a stool (ie, there’s more than 3 defining pieces)?

-what’s the common ground between various generations (1.0, 2.0, 3.0) of youth ministry?

-what are the battles/rumors corollated to youth ministry that we can address as a group? create a Camp Carl Creed

-what things in the moment do we retain as principles, instead of realizing they’re tools?

-how can we be aware of & strategize our approach to reflect the the present cultural changes? what are the markers of cultural change?

-what should be counter-cultural? what can we roll with in culture?

-how do we “lead up”? the things that we’re learning…how do we spread these to the rest of the church body? how do we lower the walls between youth ministry and the rest of the church?

-how does family play into all of this?

-how do we create better transitions? how do we stop losing so many along the way?

and here’s part 4, where they dig specifically into youth ministry 1.0 (using an approach called “appeciative inquiry”, for which they reference this blog post):

“unity is not everyone being in the same room” – too often when we talk about unity in the church, we think that it means we have to create some supra-program that will make everyone feel happy. however, as we grapple with affinity being a defining part of adolescent development and youth culture, how do we balance out intentionally reaching into and even creating sub-groupings of students where they feel free to be open and honest. this specific quote was made in the context (i think…my memory is rubbish) of being a reminder that just because we come up with a program that brings everyone into the same physical location, that doesn’t mean unity was actually achieved (anyone remember more clearly why this was said…i have contradicting thoughts in my own head…but they’re all interesting : )

“2.0 was too often emulation for the sake of population.” – numerical growth was seen as a priority by many in YM 2.0. to achieve this growth, everyone looked to see what the successful (large) youth ministries were doing and tried to do the same (if so & so has a disco-ball & they doubled in size, we should get a disco-ball, too!). the problem with this was that it often didn’t account for the change in culture from the emulated ministry to the emulating ministry. our tools have to be contextualized. this doesn’t mean that we don’t study/learn/converse with others to find out what they do that’s effective (which may or may not have to do with #’s), but we always run the ideas through the sieve of where we’re actually ministering.

Kingdom Stories – reflecting on God’s ongoing narrative

“the Kingdom Story captures all 3 questions of adolescence: Who am I, How am I unique, Where do I belong, So how do speak these things effectively?” – we spent a lot of time talking about the story of the Kingdom of God during our three days and how it is such a healthy and helpful framing for youth ministry.

during the second part of our initial conversation, we did an appreciative inquiry of Youth Ministry 1.0. if you’re not familiar with appreciative inquiry, check out Bob Robinson’s summary of it. here’s the outline of best practices we identified in YM 1.0:

What are the positives/priorities that we want to retain from YM 1.0?

-YM 1.0 reflected its culture (Great Awakening, growth of country, churches role)

-passion for evangelism

-creation of missionaries to youth culture

-established boundaries for students

-solid organizations such as FCA, YFC, Young Life

-saw need, stepped out…willing to us an out of the box approach


-use of “para-churches” that are, at times, more able to be true to the mission & passion b/c they don’t have some of the politics of “churches”

-approached through a community mindset instead of through an individualistic church mentality

a ym3.0 cohort (seismos, parts 1 and 2)

picture-65this makes me almost giddy with excitement: there’s a group of youth workers on a three-day retreat, which they’re calling seimos (“Seismos is a gathering of 17 youth leaders from 4 states & 15 churches representing over 9 different denominations. We’re meeting for three days to dig into what the future of youth ministry might be.”). they’re using youth ministry 3.0 as a guide/prod for discussion and dreaming. really, it would be difficult for me to think of a context in which i’d be more excited for that book to exist (maybe a discussion amongst the leadership of a church).

they’re going to be posting their discussions, which i’ll try to copy or link to here.

here’s post one, with the point of their gathering. a snippet:

We’re using Mark Oestreicher’s Youth Ministry 3.0 as the base for our jumping off point. Marko’s done a great job of creating a very readable and provocative manifesto about where we’ve been in youth ministry and some possibilities about where we could. While we’re all in different places and agree & disagree with different parts of Marko’s ideas, it’s great for starting the conversation and allowing us to figure out how it applies to our context. Over the next several days, I’ll be posting notes from our time as I’m able to and hopefully some reflections as well. Look for the first installment of who’s here to come during lunch time

here’s a second post (on joel daniel harris’s blog), that lists the 17 attendees, some of their book recommendations, and a few other things.