“Open Paris, in a word”~ thoughts from Marko

*taken from the blog http://whyismarko.com/2013/open-paris-in-a-word/

This last weekend, Adam and i were in paris for The Youth Cartel‘s event called Open Paris. these “Open” events have been adam’s birth-baby, shaped by this short manifesto of vision. but each Open event is completely unique, since there’s a high level of ownership given away to the local organizing team.

i’ll admit something here: while i thought the vision of doing one of these in paris was fun, i was a tad skeptical that it would actually work.

but i was wrong. 100%.

50 youth workers from 7 or 8 countries came. by most event planning metrics, that’s not a win. for this event, it was totally a win. the event had a relational dynamic as a result. we learned from each other; but we also hung out together. like: i have new youth worker friends now who live in germany and holland and england and france.

so, Open Paris in 5 words: LOCATION WAS HARD TO BEAT

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Open Paris in 4 words: OUR HOST WAS AMAZING

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Open Paris in 3 words: FELLOWSHIP TRUMPS PROGRAM

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Open Paris in 2 words: CURIOSITY WINS

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Open Paris in 1 word: LIMINAL*

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* a thin place, often used to describe a spiritual thin place. in this case, a place where the kingdom of god and the world of humans overlapped.

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“I loved Open Paris”….thoughts from Adam McLane

http://adammclane.com/2013/10/22/loved-open-paris/#more-14217

Statement of the obvious post title, right? I mean… Open Paris was kind of my baby. So of course I loved it.

But I mean that from a bigger perspective, too. I mean that I literally loved Open Paris. In so many ways its exactly what is needed in youth ministry. Risky, collaborative, relational, vision-casting, and informative.

Risky

Every single person who was part of Open Paris took a risk. Dan and the host church. All of the presenters. All the attendees. All of the sponsors. A first-time event is inherently risky. But the level of risk was a little higher because very few people knew what to expect.

The result of all of that risk was a sense of anticipation and dependency on God to make it work.

At times, it felt like organizing Open Paris was a wild animal. For me there were simple barriers like time zones. But there were cultural complexities that made it hard to know what was and what wasn’t going to work. About 2 weeks away from it I just gave up trying to tame it. We just let it roll and enjoyed the ride.

Collaborative

One thing that is working really well about all of the Open events is that it’s highly collaborative. It has to be. When we are planning, my role isn’t to dictate how it all goes down, instead I keep pushing the vision that it’ll work best when we all work together.

This was on full display with our panel discussion on ministering to LGBT youth. (Not the theology, the practical realities.) I knew Chris Curtis would be masterful in moderating it. And after meeting Gemma Dunning on Thursday night I had a great feeling that her practical experience would mean a ton. But there were two people that Dan arranged to have attend that I knew nothing about and only hoped would add greatly to the conversation. And, in the end, it was an amazing time. (I’ll post the audio soon.)

Relational

For the first time we added a 2nd day to an Open event. We had intensives all afternoon on Friday, a dinner for everyone, and a time of worship. Together with a full-day on Saturday, meals, and an evening activity, and we all got to know one another really well. Friday evening I went on a walk with some folks before dinner… and it was 15 youth workers from 5 different countries all sharing so many of the same experiences and heartaches. So cool and uniquely relational.

Vision Casting

Open, by nature, is flat. You could say this of our other Cartel events… but it’s even more flat at Open than the Campference or The Summit. Over and over again I’m challenged by the simple upside down vision of Open. When practitioners share with practitioners, new stuff is born.

One byproduct of that, for me, is how much I learn. Another is that the vision spreads.

Informative

Youth ministry is highly contextual. Something that works in one part of a community won’t necessarily work in another. I think one of the “meta” things people experience at Open is the importance of studying your own community (ethnography) and then looking for ideas/solutions/programs to adapt. Long gone are models of ministry that you can attempt to implement without much contextualization.

One of my favorite sessions in Paris was with Markus Eichler talking about the Youth Church movement in Germany. To me, the idea that the church could decide that a solution to disinterested youth and young adults could be a church just-for-them felt foreign to me. (Even though we have youth ministry ghettos all over the United States.) But to look at the data and see that it worked a little bit better than what they’d done in the past, that was really interesting to me. Another part of that presentation which peaked my interest was that it was intentionally temporary. So they tried Youth Church for a few years, systematically, but didn’t continue it after the experiment was over. That was interesting, as well.

Beyond Sightseeing

Of course, you can’t go to Paris without sightseeing. I think it’s impossible to do so as everywhere you look is something you’ve seen in a movie or read about in a book. But to intersperse the sightseeing at night and during breaks with the relational parts of exploring with new friends as well as the unique content… all of that combines in my mind to a single phrase: I loved Open Paris.

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/

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

Announcing “Open Paris” with the Youth Cartel

 

 

 

I am excited to announce a partnership with the Youth Cartel in hosting “Open Paris” this May 10-11, 2013 at The American Church in Paris.

 

http://openym.org/2012/06/14/open-paris-is-official/

 

 

I have known the guys behind the Cartel for a number of years and have always appreciated their passion for student ministry and visionary leadership.

 

Adam McLean and Mark Oestreicher’s dream is to provide great resources for all youth workers and especially opportunities for everyone to have a voice in youth ministry.

 

 

I love the idea behind the Youth Cartel and these “Open” events….  “Celebrating fresh ideas in youth ministry.”

 

These are open sourced gatherings of youth workers and practitioners sharing and discussing ideas…sort of like a large think tank.  There are no “experts” since, to be fair, what exactly is an expert in youth ministry? It is certainly not someone who has written books or been in the field for twenty years. (although I have much respect for them)  Sometimes the youngest and least experienced have the greatest insight into youth culture and God’s active engagement.  These gatherings in Seattle, Boston, and then Paris will be a wonderful opportunity to explore a new city and culture while truly learning together in community.

 

 

Of course I highly recommend taking a trip to the City of Lights and join us in Paris.  We will have a great group of youth workers and theologians from across North America, the U.K. and Europe.  This will certainly give Open Paris an international flavor.  I will admit I have learned valuable lessons from my European colleages since arriving in Paris last year.  As American culture is trending towards Europe/Scandinavia is many ways, what better source for collaboration and friendships than youth workers from there!

For more information on all of the Open events, please click the link below

 

 

http://openym.org/news/

The closer we get we will be posted more information and have an updated site for Open Paris.  Stay tuned!  à bientôt