Tag Archives: terrace crawford

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.

terrace crawford interviews me about the middle school ministry campference

SUPER IMPORTANT AND TIMELY STUFF at the bottom of this post!


i’d been familiar with youth worker and blogger terrace crawford for a couple years before we had any interaction. and i kept hearing from other people what a great guy he was. we connected when he went through a painful situation, and wanted some input. and, as often happens, we bonded a bit in that space, and became friends. but we were still (!) friends who had connected via facebook and blogs and phone calls and emails, but had never actually met (in a reality that is still baffling to me, the same is true of my friendship with josh griffin!). but that changed when i spoke for a youth ministry event hosted by the virginia baptists in may. terrace was there, and we got to spend some time together.

he’s asked if he could interview me for his blog, about the middle school ministry campference. we had coffee together one day, and decided to conduct the interview on video, while we were driving back to the event. it made for a shaky little piece of video – but at least you can tell it wasn’t scripted!

i cracked up at these observations terrace added on his blog:

I learned a few things here (a part from the campference talk):

1. I’m not a good camera man.

2. It appears I am obssessed with Marko’s beard from the camera shots. I mean, its a nice beard and all…

3. I never remember to put my seat belt on when I’m a passenger. I just don’t. Don’t judge me.



the early bird rate of $295 (which includes accomodations and food! — $270 for groups) ends this thursday, june 30. after that, the price goes up a bit. so visit the website for more info, or go right to the registration page if you’re ready to join us!

the future of youth ministry, episode 8

i led a late night discussion at the national youth workers convention this past fall on “the future of youth ministry”. in preparation for that discussion, i emailed a few dozen friends with better youth ministry minds than my own, and asked them to complete the sentence, “the future of youth ministry….” about 15 of them responded (often with more than a sentence!). i’m posting them here as a series, sometimes with a bit of commentary from myself, and sometimes merely as a reflection-prod. would love to hear your responses.
episode 1 (searching for the right way)
episode 2 (discipleship, barriers)
episode 3 (intergenerational ministry)
episode 4 (parents)
episode 5 (re-weird-ifying christianity)
episode 6 (the system is broken)
episode 7 (a little bit o’ sunshine)


i’ve only known terrace crawford for a year or two, and we’ve never actually met face-to-face. but i’ve enjoyed terrace’s positivity and good thinking. and i keep hearing his name from other sharp youth workers who have met him, and how much they enjoy him. about a year ago, i helped terrace land a part-time role as the youth ministry editor for churchleaders.com, a role he’s done really well with. here’s what terrace had to say:

Terrace Crawford

I think we are beginning to see less paid staff in youth ministry than ever before… and this is just the beginning. I believe churches will recruit more volunteers in the days ahead. Additionally, I think we’ll see less silos in youth ministry and more integration of students into “big church.” As a result, students will begin assuming more leadership roles. Finally, I think churches & ministries are having to “strip down” to the basics because of the economy & budget cuts — and it just might be what the Lord has ordered. I believe what we often see in the physical realm is mirrored in the spiritual. God may be salvaging the remnants and stripping away what doesn’t need to remain in our ministries & we are better for it. Because of this, I am very hopeful about the future of youth ministry.

there is much i resonate with in terrace’s comments. and i agree that some of it is cause for being hopeful; but some of it will also be extremely difficult, even threatening. let’s parse it a bit:

less paid staff. yes, i’ve been saying for a while (as have others — mark riddle most notably) that the next 20 years will see a decline in the number of paid youth workers. the impact of the recession on church expedited this, and we might even see a little reprieve in the next few years (assuming things rebound a bit, as they likely will). but that will be a false indication that “the money is back”. giving to churches continues to decline — it was declining before the recession, and will continue to decline after the recession. churches will be forced to rethink farming out youth ministry to a hired gun. in many ways, i think this is a good thing. the hired gun mentality has hurt us in many ways that we didn’t see when we started down that road, because there are all sorts of systemic implications that flow out of that, not the least of which are both the abdication of the care of youth ministry to someone “more qualified”, and the wholesale isolation of teenagers to the fringes of our churches. in many ways, this is bad news for paid youth workers. there hasn’t been this much lack of job security in youth ministry in 40 years. heck, it’s even going to be a challenge for people like me who resource churches and youth workers.

the potential upside is this: congregations will be forced to re-engage teenagers, hopefully as an integral part of the body. all the research (sticky faith, national study of youth and religion) is telling us that this kind of congregrational engagement and integration is one of the necessary aspects for sustainable faith in teenagers moving to adulthood. but it just might be this financial reality that forces the issue.

less silos and more integration. connected to the last bit, this move away from isolation (the primary approach to youth ministry in america over the last 40 years) and toward re-integration is a move some churches are already wrestling with. this will require some boldness, some patience, and some experimentation. my hope is: enough churches will lead the way in this for missional/theological reasons that when thousands of other churches are forced to consider other options for youth ministry because of budget cut-backs, there will be loads of wonderful examples of how to do this well. in one sense it’s not rocket science; but most of our churches are so deeply steeped in a mindset of isolating teenagers, the pathways out of that thinking and practice won’t be obvious (and certainly won’t be easy).

students assuming leadership roles. this is another wonderful shift that needs to happen, and directly connects with what we’re learning from research about adolescent and young adult faith. meaningful responsibility and expectation are necessary for the transition to adulthood (the lack of these is one of the primary reasons for extended adolescence). an opportunity for teenagers and young adults to play a meaningful role in their churches (not just their youth ministries) is just what the doctor ordered.

terrace might be assuming that people will choose these shifts because they are more-than-necessary course corrections. i think a few churches will. but more will forced to strip down and get lean, which will put them in a place to consider new (and old) approaches that are more integrated, and mo’ better.

here’s hopin’.