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.
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)
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.
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!