Open Paris…in review

Open Paris

This past weekend, 50 youth workers from across the E.U., U.K. and the U.S converged upon Paris for the inaugural Open Paris.

We were tremendously blessed with a stacked lineup of diverse speakers and seminars including Mark Oestreicher, Andrew Marin, Chris Kidd, Chris Curtis, Gemma Dunning, Markus Eichler, Tabea Weiler, Tim Eldred among others.

Tim Eldred

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For the full range of the schedule, seminars and vision for Open Paris you can check out the website here:http://paris.openym.org

Hosting was fun and I really enjoyed playing tour guide in the city of Paris and The American Church in Paris.

More importantly, I loved connecting up with such a wide array of youth workers from 6-7 different countries. Each person shared his or her unique story, context, struggles, successes, hopes and dreams for God’s work in the lives of their students.

Some of the highlights for me included a very delicious traditional French dinner served for all guests on Friday evening followed by a sacred time of worship in the church’s catacombs.

(photos courtesy of Tim Eldred and Andrew Marin)

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Open Paris was highly interactive, participatory, inclusive and relational.

In my opinion that is the way forward for youth worker gatherings.

Though some well-known speakers were on site, Open Paris was NOT about creating a dichotomy between the “professionals” and the ordinary youth workers.  We were all together all the time, and this is unique among these type of conferences.

Open Paris was about taking some bold risks and opening up honest conversations about real issues facing youth workers today including ministering to the ever-increasing LGBT community, embracing ecumenicalism as a way forward,  and inter-faith dialogue in pluralistic contexts.

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I applaud the vision of The Youth Cartel (Adam and Marko) for desiring to create this kind of atmosphere and am excited to see what the future holds for other Open events and also for the connectivity and friendship of youth workers across Europe.

We have much to learn from each other and I hope to see more of these gatherings in the near future!

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Hosting “Open Paris”

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In just over one month youth workers from across Europe and North American will be traveling to France for Open Paris.  This event is sponsored by The Youth Cartel and my church, The American Church in Paris, will play the host. www.acparis.org

I am really excited about this opportunity to get a variety of voices from a multitude of backgrounds, traditions, cultures..and countries gathering together to learn and embrace our experiences.

I appreciate the vision of The Youth Cartel’s “Open” manifesto   http://paris.openym.org/the-open-manifesto/

Here’s a blurb from their own words…..

“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.”

On a personal note, I have known Adam and Marko for over a decade now and our journey which began at YS conventions will now finds us within a stone’s throw of the Eiffel Tower sipping wine and discussing the latest theological and cultural trends impacting youth ministry.

The U.S used to have a market on all things “youth ministry” but the global community has much to say especially relating to shifting worldviews in secular societies.

Yes, our American counterparts (which I still include myself in) know how to budget and build bigger and “better” youth ministry programs at church.  European youth workers are navigating the often treacherous waters between secular and sacred within society. Ours are often the students who can speak 3-4 different languages, have fully stamped passports by the age of 12, feel more comfortable in airports than soccer fields, and are positioned to be the global leaders of tomorrow.  This is why learning how to minister to teenagers in a European context is crucial and a good lesson for all youth workers.

And Paris…well, to many it is still the heart of Europe and center of culture, fashion, cuisine and philosophy.  It is often said that what trends in Paris finds its way to NYC and then the world.  This is certainly true when it comes to fashion and probably the culinary world.

But ask any student of philosophical innovation, especially in the era of postmodernity, and the birthplace of these ideas….France!  This cultural phenomenon that scares the multitudes in America came from the minds of French thinkers such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Jean-Francois Lyotard, and the like.  These brilliant minds arguably redefined thought, literature, culture…and religion… and similar minds are being educated currently in the same schools our students attend.

That being said, Paris is just one of many cultural centers in Europe which hold great influence on the rest of the global community.

I hope that Open Paris will just be the beginning of an European movement in youth ministry that brings together divergent views in a united passion of seeing God’s kingdom redefined in radical ways among today’s teens.

If you can, please come and join us or stay tuned to this blog for Open Paris updates, live feeds, and reflections as we celebrate new ideas in youth ministry and dream together what youth work can..and will be!

For more information about our location, speakers, seminars and to register please visit the Open Paris site:   http://paris.openym.org/

The Power of Volunteering

Volunteerism is the voice of the people put into action. These actions shape and mold the present into a future of which we can all be proud.

- Submitted by Helen Dyer, Parks Funding and Volunteer Coordinator, Teller County, CO Division of Parks, Colorado, USA

We all have choices to make; choices about how to spend our time, our talents, and our treasures.  Let me be more precise.  We do have choices to make but perhaps not about anything we possess.  As a person of faith, I believe that what we have is given to us by our gracious God.  We are stewards of everything we own, the time we have, and even  life itself.  So the question becomes… what are we doing with our life?  Are we living for ourselves or others?  Is our life making a difference in the world around us?

Nelson Mandela quoted, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

Volunteering is a powerful way to make a difference and be the change we want to see in the world.  This does not have to be a 2-week trip to remote parts of an African jungle. This could mean volunteering one Saturday morning a month for your local community center or soup kitchen.

At my church we are privilege to have many opportunities for volunteering locally and globally.  No matter your religious affiliation I encourage all to discover opportunities to volunteer and serve,  Through service opportunities, both global and local, it is our hope to positively impact others through our presence and resources.  This happens whether we are physically constructing a home or school, providing medical aid, feeding the hungry, teaching, or bringing laughter and smiles of joy upon the faces of children.

I believe  there exists opportunities for everyone to use what time (great or small) they have and match it with a passion.  When this occurs, the power of volunteering impacts the volunteer as well.  What happens is that volunteers discover  their hearts touched and changed.  Ralph Waldo Emerson once said,  ”It is one of the beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely help another without helping himself.”  

 By volunteering you discover that by giving you receive!

You may never know the power of your volunteering, but every single act of kindness and generosity does make a difference. Regarding her work with the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta India, Mother Theresa once said, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” 

This reminds me of a story:

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?”

The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out.  If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”

“Son”, the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You cant make a difference!”

After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish,and threw it back into the surf.  Then, smiling at the man, he said, “I made a difference for that one.”

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

-Nelson Mandela

The Cartel is coming….

Open Paris

I am excited to re(announce) that the Youth Cartel will be organizing “Open Paris” in the fall here at The American Church in Paris.http://www.acparis.org

I have written about the Youth Cartel previously, so you can read my thoughts here:

http://emergingyouth.com/2012/09/24/what-is-the-youth-cartel/

We are in the beginning phases of speaker proposals, so if interested in coming to Paris and speaking at this gig, please submit your proposal here:

http://paris.openym.org

It is my hope that Open Paris will bring together youth workers from across continents and that these diverse experiences will greatly contribute to the youth ministry conversation happening now and shape its future.

It is exciting to envision youth workers from the U.K, western Europe, and the emerging fields in Easter Europe connecting with youth workers from all across the U.S.A.

Plus…Paris is a pretty sweet place to hang out and enjoy the beautiful back drop of Les Miserables!

So, I invite you all to venture to France and experience a whole new world in culture, theology, and youth ministry.

a bientôt mes amis

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The Transfiguration of the Lord (and Chinese New Year!)

This manuscript is from my message on February, 10 2013 preached at The American Church in Paris. www.acparis.org

“Changing Appearances”

Luke 9: 28-36

This glorious transformation of the appearance of Christ is considered the most significant event between his birth and passion. The Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and the events at Mount Sinai frames the background for this narrative. In our first lesson we read a strikingly similar story of the prophet Moses. He spent 40 days and 40 nights in fasting, solitude and prayer on a mountain experiencing God’s presence and receiving the commandments. We read that when Moses returned to the people he did not realize his face was glowing.

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He was radiating the glory of God and did not understand it. Moses put a veil on his face and we may infer this was because of the glory that shone from it which caused fear among those that saw it. However, the apostle Paul explains that it was to prevent them from seeing the fading of the glow. This was a fleeting glory, a temporary spiritual peak. Sometimes we do whatever we can to hold onto those moments, as if we could package and preserve God’s presence.

Our gospel text mirrors the event with Moses in many ways. We know that Jesus has been busy in a very successful and growing ministry. Luke specifically records that eight days after Peter’s confession of Christ as the Messiah and Jesus’ own foretelling of his death, Jesus ascended a mountain to pray.

He took his inner circle of Peter, John, and James. While he was praying, his face changed appearance just like Moses. The Greek word metemorphothe is translated metamorphosis; a complete transformation. Luke notes that even his clothes turned white. This was not to be mistaken as a ray of sunshine breaking forth from on high, much like the Parisians during winter have divine moments when the sun appears!

Whereas Moses temporarily radiated God’s glory, Jesus on this occasion radiated a foretaste of his own glory. This story takes an interesting turn when some unexpected guests arrive. Moses the great law-giver of the people of Israel and a prophet, a prototype of the Messiah and Elijah, the greatest of the prophets and an eschatological figure pointing to the future as a precursor of the Messiah.

Both were among the most highly respected Old Testament figures and both had their own theophany experiences on a mountain. Perhaps most significant reason for their appearance were that these two Old Testament figures were expected to appear before the coming of the messianic age. The presence of these two prophets certainly validated Jesus’ place and role in the continuing redemptive work of God as well as his superiority over even these divinely favored heroes.

They too appeared in glory and were discussing with Jesus about upcoming events. What a scene! Try to imagine with me being one of the three disciples. Two of the most famous prophets show up and begin speaking with your teacher. For any football fans out there, imagine SuperBowl winning coaches Vince Lombardi and Chuck Noll meeting up with one of the Harbaugh brothers a few weeks before the big game. How would the disciples respond? They were tired, perhaps much like anyone trying to wait up all night to watch the Superbowl, and though their fatigue altered their perception they remained awake and alert and were able to see God’s glory.

After the conversation, Peter, ever quick to respond, suggests that tents should be built for these three men. His comment suggests a desire to keep Moses and Elijah from leaving. Luke mentions that Peter really did not know what he was saying. Now this is not meant to indicate that divine inspiration came upon Peter at that moment, but probably sleep-deprived foolish talk, which I have been accused of in recent weeks!

It was foolish to equate Jesus with the other two prophets as well as trying to enshrine and perpetuate that which is only temporal. We discover Peter still not grasping the immediacy of Jesus’ forthcoming passion and departure from this world. Even though days earlier Peter confessed Christ as Messiah, the full realization and implication of that confession was still part of his growth and discipleship, much like disciples today.

While Peter was rambling, a cloud came and overshadowed them and the voice of God descended. Then from within the cloud a voice saying “This is my Son, my chosen, listen to him.” Jesus is expressly declared to be God’s Son, a declaration similar to that spoken by God at Jesus’ baptism. Unlike what others were saying about him, Jesus was not Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist. He was much greater. He was the Messiah of God and the disciples needed to hear this once again.

In Luke’s version God is speaking to the disciples. If you remember earlier Peter refused to believe that Jesus’ journey would lead him to the cross. He was rebuked by Jesus and now God the Father clearly (and audibly) commands them to listen to Jesus. Robert Stein, in his book Jesus the Messiah, remarks that this voice from heaven acted as a seal of authenticity and approval; a heavenly ratification of Jesus’ teaching concerning his calling”, most notably that Jesus’ mission involved suffering and death.

In all accounts however, the voice from heaven affirms that Jesus is the one who is sent by God and who has God’s authority. Jesus is the true prophet, the Chosen Servant, and the beloved Son of God. This proclamation of approval, love, and identity which began the ministry of Jesus is now reaffirmed in the middle of Jesus’s ministry as he prepares for the journey towards Jerusalem and the cross.

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Last week I had the honored of having my parents here to meet their grandsons. My father turned 60 years old and was able to hold both of his grandsons on his birthday.

Later that day we went out to celebrate and discuss fatherhood. He shared with me a story from 20 years ago that I did not remember. His father was about to have a massive heart surgery and the the night before I, as a young child of 6 years old asked my father, “Dad, you love Papa?”

“Of course I do”, he replied.

My innocent and naive voice proceed to ask, “Have you told him that?”

Silence was evident as my father realized that years had passed without either of them verbalizing those precious words. Being Norwegian, love is often displayed in more stoic and practical ways. yet here was a man in his mid 30’s in the midst of a busy career with a young child of his own, longing to hear those words. You are never too old to hear words of love and affirmation and to hear your Father say “I love you”.

When we are awoken to the glory of God and affirmed of God’s love for us, change happens. We are caught up in God’s presence and begin to reflect His light and love.

We become transformed and others take notice the change. This type of transfiguration leads to radical changes in our own lives and the world around us.

Today we celebrate the Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year 2013

Did you know that never before in the history of Christianity, has the faith grown as exponentially as in China over the past decade. The Church in China is experiencing tremendous growth like never before, reports the World Council of Churches. Over the past decade there has been a “unique and explosive growth” of Christianity among the Chinese people with the number of Christians estimated now as high as 130 million. People in China are experiencing God’s glory, are being affirmed in their identity and calling are being transformed in ways that are changing the world.

Even though the change of appearance did not last for long, this moment offered a glimpse to the true nature of Christ and what would be in store for all of Christ’s followers. This affirmation of identity and calling can awaken us and change our appearance. Where the old covenant brought about an external and fleeting form of glory, the new covenant instituted in Christ and ushered in by the Holy Spirit brings an internal, lasting and life-altering presence that has and will continue to change the appearances of Christians for eternity.

To conclude my father’s story, later that night he did tell his father that he loved him, to which my Papa replied back, for the first time in perhaps 20 years, “I love you too my son.” My dad left a new person with his face aglow and his appearance changed and that affirmation of approval and love has been passed down to the next generations.

So may we hear the voice of God calling us his beloved and chosen and may this truth change us both internally and externally for the sake of Christ and the world.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

What is the Youth Cartel?

Youth is the time of life between childhood and adulthood (maturity).[1] Definitions of the specific age range that constitutes youth vary. An individual’s actual maturity may not correspond to their chronological age, as immature individuals could exist at all ages.

Often youth is associated with vigor, freshness or immaturity

cartel is a formal agreement among competing firms. It is a formal organization where there is a small number of sellers and usually involve homogeneous products. Cartel members may agree on such matters as total industry output, market shares, allocation of customers, allocation of territories,  establishment of common sales agencies, and the division of profits or combination of these.

These two definitions really have little to do with the Youth Cartel…

However, this new organization does specialize is providing innovative resources to youth workers of all kinds with their moto “Instigating a Revolution in Youth Ministry”

The founding partners are two of the leading youth ministry voices and have years of experience speaking, creating, writing, and working with teenagers.  They are wacky, funny, in love with Jesus and teens, and progressive enough to speak into the future of youth ministry. Here are brief bio’s on Mark Oestreicher and Adam McLane.

http://theyouthcartel.com/about/team-bios/

I deeply appreciate their passion for youth and youth workers and ability to speak into the lives of many in diverse contexts.  I have the privilege of partnering with the Youth Cartel in hosting Open Paris this spring.

For more information about The Youth Cartel including resources and events please visit their website:

http://theyouthcartel.com

Youth Pastor Panel: Why networking is important

 

Here is a link to a recent article published by the fine people at Called to Youth Ministry. In their questioner they asked a number of youth workers about our involvement, need, and vision for networking both personally and professionally.

In addition to this post, you can discover some great insights from other youth workers and colleagues such as Jeremy Zach, Nate Dame, and Paul Turner.

 

http://www.calledtoyouthministry.com/blog/youth-pastor-panel-why-networking-is-important#comment-737

http://www.calledtoyouthministry.com