“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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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 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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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

 

 

 

 

 

To Save A Life

With more recent school and community shootings (Tuscon and Los Angeles) this past week we watched the movie

“To Save A Life”

To Save A Life movie

I must be honest, I was a bit skeptical about showing this movie.  We watch all sorts of movies with our teens, but I am hesitant to view “Christian” films with them.

For one, generally the production value is not very good

Second, they are usually very predictable, poorly scripted and acted

Third, these type o movies often portray an unrealistic view of life’s reality and the complexity of faith

Not so with To Save A Life

I was very impressed with the production value, story, writing, and acting.

More importantly, the theme(s) presented were very real and relevant.

Without giving away the movie here is a sampling of the themes/issues addressed (and often visually depicted):

teen suicide

school shooting

cutting

teenage sex

abortion

binge drinking and partying

divorce

drug use

teen pregnancy

And here is the thing- they were handled in a very realistic way.  Social issues and activities that most teens find fun were presented as just that in the movie.

Beer pong was played and enjoyed (and youth workers know that teens enjoy playing that game…doesn’t mean that they should)

Faith issues were handled in a similar fashion.

Personally, I felt that the youth pastor, youth group, and conversations about faith were honest.

Even the youth pastor was poked fun at and the corny games often played at youth group were shown for what they really are.

The writers pulled no punches trying to protect the church and youth groups, however also showed the redemptive side and hope.

The youth pastor came across as someone who genuinely cared about the welfare of students (emotional, physically, relational, and spiritual).  Though he believe in the power of faith to transform a life, he was not dogmatic nor pushy.

The main character Jake is the stereotypical popular athlete but instead of a happy-go-lucky conversion story, he struggles with his new faith and becoming a “Christian”.

The anger and feeling of betrayal by his friends is very real.

I have had a few “Jakes” in my youth group and their stories and journeys are very similar to the character depicted in the movie.

Becoming a Christian is not always easy, fun, or what it appears to be.  But the question the movie beckons to be answered is “Is it worth it?”

What I also appreciated about the main character and youth group was the diversity.

Often, youth pastors seem to target the popular students at school.  They are seen as key influences and the thought is if you can “win” them you can “win” the school.  History has shown certain ministries such as Young Life and Youth For Christ, F.C.A. and others specifically targeted that demographic of teenagers.

The negative is that one’s youth group can take on that perception and image, to the exclusion of many other students.

However, in To Save A Life, the main character did not leverage his popularity, but rather used his authentic charisma and confidence to work hard to include others, especially those marginalized in school.  This served as a great example.

If you had not figured out, the main theme of the movie is about saving lives of struggling teens.  This message could not be broadcasted any louder.  Our students and our communities need good resources, places, and communities of safety and refuge.  My hope and prayer is that the church and our youth groups can one day be known for that.

I highly recommended watching this movie with our students.  Let me know what you and your students think if you do watch it.

Here are some quotes and endorsements from the youth ministry world:

Teenagers are going to love the story and cast in To Save A Life. Super realistic portrayal of life on a high school campus — not all fake, like some movies, but the real stuff. This is a movie you’ll want to see with friends.”
—Mark Oestreicher, President, Youth Specialties

“To Save A Life flashes moments of genuine brilliance, and the multiple storylines all lead to a satisfying ending. While it has some doses of reality in it people might typically shy away from in a church setting (the film is PG-13 for thematic images), it is shown when story-critical and is tastefully done.”
—Josh Griffin, MoreThanDodgeball.com, High School Pastor, Saddleback Church

“To Save A Life portrays timely issues for today’s teens. Youth workers, parents, and teachers should definitely capitalize on this opportunity to take teens to the theater. Riveting conversations will follow.”
—Craig Detweiler, Director Reel Spirituality Institute & Associate Professor Fuller Theological Seminary

“As a middle school youth worker, I can see the lonely students in my ministry going unseen and unheard until someone says yes to being a friend. This movie is one more catalyst to helping our teenagers understand the power of that sort of love.”
—Brooklyn Lindsey, Youth Worker & Author, Confessions of a Not-So-Supermodel

“This movie is awesome. It conveys the raw emotions of life, and is a gritty testament to the ups and downs of high school. To Save A Life shows that life isn’t easy and relationships can be messy. My friends who have seen the film are already talking about it and encouraging others to go see it.”
—Zach Hunter, Teen Author & Speaker

Here are some great resources following the theme of the movie:

To Write Love on Her Arms

My Broken Palace

Need Help links and resources

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Top Ten Youth Ministry bloggers

As we close out another here I wanted to give a shout out to the youth ministry bloggers out there.

This is my own personal list, not intended to be “the” list.

For a great list of youth ministry bloggers check out the Youth Specialties link below

Top 20 youth ministry blogs of 2010

*and by the way YS, no hard feelings that this blog didn’t make your list…maybe next year (hint)

I am not sure how these numbers are calculated.  Hits to site?  Readership?  Subscriptions? Impact?  Name recognition?

Here is how I created my top ten:

People that I actually read, value, and learn from their thoughts in youth ministry.  I have chosen a few “outside of the box” writers and thinkers.  Some of these men and women you have heard of and probably read, others maybe not.  Personally I don’t care as much about the statistics of certain blogs, but more about the ideas presented.  If I can bring some new, progressive, and emerging voices into the realm of youth ministry that would be great.

Clearly there are so many great bloggers out there.  My list will look very different from Youth Specialties or your own..and that is a very good thing.  Each one of us in on a different journey, and so diverse types of thinkers and bloggers will impact us and our ministry.  Here are the thinkers, writers, practitioners, activists, and bloggers who have impacted me this past year.

Top Ten Youth Ministry Bloggers

A new kind of youth ministry–   Chris Folsmbee (author, trainer, and director of Barefoot Ministries

Youth Specialties blog– Adam Mclane and an “assortment” of other youth workers and thinkers

Rethinking Youth Ministry-Brian Kirk and Jacob Thorne (mainline/progressive youth pastors offering new perspectives)

ReYouthpastor– Jeremy Zach (trainer and innovator in youth ministry w/ XP3 students

Mike King (author and director of Immerse Journal and Youthfont)

Why is Marko– Mark Oesteicher (author, speaker, YS emergent brain child)

evolitionist– Neil Christopher (activist and progressive youth pastor in TX)

Lars Rood (author, speaker, youth pastor in TX)

pomomusing– Adam Walker Cleaveland (theologian & “postmodern” youth pastor)

Peter Waugh (progressive and creative youth pastor in Belfast, Ireland)

Now I wish I made my list top 15 or 20 because there are so many other great youth ministry blogs out there.

For more of a fuller and broader list of youth ministry bloggers that I read, please scroll down the right of the home page of Emerging Youth

and find the RSS feeds under “Who I read”. That section is my personal blogroll for youth ministry people.

*Please comment with ones that you follow and read and I will probably add a few more as well!

Happy blogging and Happy New Year



NYWC 2010…afterthoughts from Nashvegas

*A view of Broadway highlighting the gems of Nashville: “Jack’s” BBQ, Legends Corner, and The Stage

As habit, and a way of justifying procrastination, I chose not to blog about the National Youth Workers Convention until after it concluded.
it gives me time to process, reflect, and decompress
Also, i am prone to make calls too early.  Over the years I have learned you cannot always judge a book by its cover (or the first few days of a conference)

Thus….one day after I returned from NYWC 2010 in Nashville, here are some thoughts…

1) The convention seemed to be smaller than years in the past.  This is my 9th year attending. This year seemed to lack something, but it could just be me. I would imagine for 1st timers, it was great.

I agree with Mike King that compared to last year, with all the confusion and uncertainity surrounding everything, this year seemed back on track.

Mike King- \”Back from Nashville\”

2) There were no free give-aways on the seats in the general sessions which I usually like but also end up weighing down my bag and suitcases in the end.

*I attribute both of these changes to the decline in the economy

3) There was an emphasis and focus on soul care (prayer, sacred space, and pastoral counseling)

These are extremely important and perhaps the best aspect for me this time around.

I will admit that I missed the Labyrinth Experience and also Jeff Johnson and Vesper services.

4) The exhibit hall was packed, every ministry and organization trying to get ahead and sell more curriculum or mission trips. Friend and blogger Paul Sheneman mentions in his blog;  “It is called an exhibit hall and not an exhibition hall.  The later can get you into some serious trouble:)  Enough said.

The balance of my thoughts will focus on #5 and #6

5)

What I noticed the most was the de-emphasis of progressive ideology, theologically based seminars, and topics/speakers who could rattle the cages…or at least offer different perspectives.

Youth Specialties encouraged us to attend seminars that we may not agree with, yet offered a low amount of topics, themes, or speakers towards that end.  I suppose Tony Campolo’s views of social justice may be uncomfortable to some, but he has been advocating for that for almost a decade.  Ted Haggard generated much stir, but that was more due to his unintended remarks about Muslims than anything else.

Some former speakers and presenters were glaringly absent, some had minimized roles,  and others were actually in attendance but not asked to speak or teach ( i think it will write a separate post on this later)

6)

I remember writing about the Zondervan and Youth Works transition last year and was privileged to speak with Paul Bertleson and John Potts  of Youth Works (both very gracious and great men) and shared personal concerns and hope for the new regime and things to come.

One of my observations has been over the past few years I notice the same youth ministry “veterans” leading a majority of the seminars.
I respect their life-long commitment to student ministry.  I really do.

However, they are a product of their time and their culture. and in my opinion their time has passed.

Most no longer work directly with students, and many have not lead a church-based youth ministry for over 20 years. I wonder how they empathize with the daily struggles of youth works and today’s culture of teenagers. How are they working within the current framework of postmodernity, budget cuts, suicidal teens, and debates about inclusiveness, tolerance, and affirmation.

Statistical research and cultural analysis only tells one story.
The daily working with and for adolescence is a whole other ball game

But I do believe these veterans have a purpose and roll.  My stated hope was and is for youth ministry veterans to come alongside younger and emerging youth workers to mentor them personally and spiritually, not so much professionally.  I would love to have a ministry veteran of 30 years coach me in life, faith, marriage.  They have been through struggles and the ups and downs of life and youth ministry.  I just don’t soak in their expertise now as it relates to working with kids in my context.  I love their experience but honestly question their relevance, and trust me countless of youth workers feel the same way (but they just might not get in trouble for writing about it)

Having shared my views last year….what did we find this year…..even more 50+ youth workers on prominent display.  I do realize there is a growing trend of older youth workers and seeing this bunch serves as inspiration and examples, but what about all the younger youth workers?

Y.S and Youth Works….there is no need to eliminate or ostracize that segment, but please be intentional about creating time, space, and platforms for the next generation. They need a voice and need support.

The conversations I had apart from the convention with men and women who fully understand my situation and what we all are going through was far more helpful, supportive, and inspiring than most “how to” seminars.

I realize I am a product of my own experiences, growth, and maturation, yet also know from the hundreds of conversations I am having there is a ground swell of support away from the past traditionalism of youth ministry and towards a theologically driven dialogue and progressive youth ministry.

More and more small conference such as First Third, Evo Youth, and  Princeton Forum will be popping up and more youth workers will begin to opt for those smaller, but more intentional, focused and relevant gatherings.

I noticed plenty of  affinity gatherings at NYWC covering every single facet of youth workers, except emergent/progressive/theological ones.  Interesting.

There was even something for small town rural part-time workers living in Nebraska, (or something like that) but none targeted for emerging leaders.

*There were a few select seminars that I will mention in a later post that I recommended and was glad to see offered, but they represented a striking minority.

These larger all-in-one conferences can remain relevant to broader audiances by offering more types of seminars, gatherings, and intention ways to connect and network.

Secondly, regional and strategic seminars and affinity gatherings would fill a big void and serve a great purpose for localize and contextual teaching/training, support, networking and relevant cultural conversations.

(I will also write more about that later and address it to the Chosen Frozen here in the Northeast)

In recap, one year later from the “merge”,  I don’t see much in the way of progression, safety perhaps, but not the progressive, forward thinking vision I have been used to with Y.S

And quite honestly, I am wondering if the departure of Marko is the reason, or if  Youthworks is intentionally moving in a different direction.  (and that’s okay if you are, just kind of let us know….)

YS has always been known to push the envelope, provide a platform for those who have none, and taken chances in hopes of leading the church towards relevance, progression, and a new future

While I agree that they are back on track, it seems to me they are on slow train backwards.  I sincerely hope I am wrong.

This blog is not meant to criticize, though I realize that some may be offended (I offer my apology in advance to you)

I love YS and the guys at Youthworks.  I mean that with all sincerity. I am a big fan.  I am hoping for the best but also realize the longings of so many youth workers.  I want to see this marriage stay together.

I enjoyed the conference and still would recommend it to most.

I liked the Soul care, networking and connections made.  The best conversations on theology, youth ministry were organic and took place over dinner, and during our own “late night” options (thanks again to Sparkhouse)

But with trepidation, I wonder how long before the remnant of emerging youth workers disengage or dissociated themselves from YS  and the NYWC.

I remain committed to YS but sincerely hope to see progression ahead.

Recap:

For what it’s worth (perhaps not much) here is what I would like to see next year, and I know that I also speak for hundreds of youth workers:

1) Emergent/postmodern track (call it something else if those terms are scary)

2) Academic/Theological track

3) Seminar or affinity gathering for the Northeast

4) Feature more women in seminars and main sessions, not just talking about sex or working with middle school girls

5) Offer contextual mini-conferences in strategic geographic regions

And hey, if the powers to be from Youthworks and YS would like to chat…I’m all ears because I believe in you guys and the potential

The Merge experience

Friends and fellow youth workers

As many of you know, over the past few years my ministry with students has been in process and evolving.  One of the main changes has been the use of storytelling. Just last week I wrote about the need and power of telling and retelling stories and The Story.  I firmly believe in the importance of story-based teaching and discussions within the context of narrative theology. Never before have I witnessed my students fully engaged and participating in the “lesson” time as when we enter in stories together.  Stories have a way of sparking the imagination, captivating attention, and ushering us into something much bigger than ourselves.  Movies, television, and music seem to do that instinctively and we all know how influential they have become in the lives of students.  God’s story truly has the same ability and potential, and it takes committed youth workers to bring that out with and for students.

I have not been along in this journey of discovery.  Many youth workers and thinkers have shaped my ever-changing and growing philosophy and approach.  One of the most signficant and influential has been Michael Novelli.  Perhaps you have read his books, Shaped by the Story: Helping Students Encounter God in a New Way and Enter the Story: 7 Experiences to Unlock the Bible for Your Students.

If not, I highly recommend these.  You can get more information on the right hand column of my blog on the home page.

Another insightful book is from Mark Miller called Experiential Storytelling:  (Re) Discovering Narrative to Communicate God’s Message. additionally, pretty much anything by Donald Miller is great as well.

The main reason why Michael Novelli’s book work so well in my context is because they are written from the perspective of today’s students.  Mark’s heart and passion is for teenagers and student ministry and helping youth workers create atmospheres and environments to make the story of God come alive.

At home in my youth group, we have spent the past few years experimented with storytelling, creative spaces, and reshaping our message into a fuller narrative theology.  Novelli’s works have greatly helped and inspired myself and my youth leaders.

I am also excited to share his latest endeavor called Merge.  Merge is “an innovative learning experience inspiring high school students to join God’s story.”

Merge takes high school students on a week-long journey that’s:

Fueled by Imagination:  Creative storytelling, arts and media, lively dialogue, and hands-on learning, guide students to enter the stories of the Bible.

Centered on The Story: An in-depth journey through the Bible’s storyline awakens students to a new purpose and identity found in God’s Story.

Designed for effective Learning: Innovative methods that are learner-centered, experience-based, theologically deep, and educationally grounded connect with and inspire each type of student

Shaped by Students: Students thrive in their giftedness as they’re given the tools and inspiration to process what they’re learning and create thoughtful and artistic responses.

Sparking a Movement: Groups are moved to dream and plan specifically for how they can change the world, joining in God’s Story of love and restoration.

I know from personal experience how effective this type of training and learning is for students.  Its one thing for us as youth workers to journey through this on our own, but imagine the possibilities of joining with our students in this experience.  I am not exaggerating when I share that experiential storytelling, narrative-based theology, and creating time and space for hands-on and interactive learning has completely transformed our student ministry.  I encourage you to look into these resources and think about attending Merge July 11-16 in Grand Rapids, MI

For those of you who may be interested, I have included some helpful links below.

Merge– website for more information

Follow Merge Experience on Twitter

Echo the Story–  great resources for narrative based lessons of the story of God

Follow Michael Novelli on Twitter

Reasons why you should take your students to merge–  good post from Chris Folmsbee regarding Merge

Mergo from Marko– another good post from Mark Oestriecher

MergeQuotes– what others are saying about Merge