The Youth Cartel

We Went to The Summit Together

I’m going to remember 2012. It’s the year the Cartel came of age.

In 2011, we dreamed a lot and casted a lot of vision for what the Cartel might become. We wanted to Instigate a Revolution in Youth Ministry by initiating some stuff, developing partnerships, serving other organizations, etc.

In 2012, we decided to build a lot of stuff to make those aspirations more of a practical reality. We have served more than 20 Christians organizations with marketing, strategy, and internet initiatives. We launched a publishing line which released our first four titles, and we added two additional events for youth workers– Open and The Summit.

Those things are about as easy as it sounds. (As in, not that easy at all!) It was way, way more work than I’d ever envisioned.

All of that work culminated and was celebrated this past Friday and Saturday. It all came together… it all popped and made sense.

About half way into Friday’s opening session– Rhett Smith was knocking it out of the park in his talk on anxiety in teenagers– when it started to hit me: We’re starting something here. 

It’s a We Thing

I don’t know if the stuff Marko and I are doing will ever become mainstream. And we’re OK with that. In order to be who we want to be and see the change we sense God has called us to instigate, we have our eyes on an entirely different prize than seeing our stuff stocked by Wal-Mart or packed stadiums.

In fact, The Summit was kind of opposite of that. It was a couple hundred people gathering in the sanctuary of a thriving non-megachurch for 18 TED-styled talks on youth ministry and then cramming into a 5-6 breakout rooms to dig deeper on those talks. It was decidedly unfancy, unpackaged, and unpolished.

Why? Because…

Ideas are messy. Dreams are not confined to the four walls of an auditorium. Inspiration grabs you and changes your course.

And as the collective we heard idea after idea after idea you could start to see new ideas explode all over the place.

We experienced something together. As in,  even I was inspired by the event I helped put on. And the other presenters? They all stuck around longer than they were needed and left— themselves inspired with new ideas.

The Summit is a we thing. 

And that brings me joy.

My favorite photo

As I walked around (taking photos… because in a small business you get off stage as the emcee and grab a camera to take pictures!) I walked past this colleague.

I know it’s a dark photo so let me unpack it.

She had moved to the back of the room and was taking notes. In her notebook were pages and pages and pages of handwritten notes, drawings, and arrows. It was a hot mess! Next to her was her phone, glowing in the darkness, I don’t know who she was texting by I envisioned her posting thoughts on Facebook or texting a co-worker as she crouched in the back of the room trying to capture all that was going on inside of her.

Our speakers didn’t deliver those pages and pages of content to her. It was her, connecting the dots between what she knows in her life, what the speaker is saying, and the Holy Spirit.

That picture, at least for me, captures the value of The Summit. 

We, as a tribe, began to dream again there— at The Summit. But it wasn’t just an event… it was a mountaintop.

I’m just thankful to play a part in that moment. 

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in the San Diego neighborhood of Rolando with their three children.

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