Oh yeah, Open is really cool.
It’s crazy. Life comes at you a million miles per hour sometimes. With the holidays and my trip to Africa I didn’t have a lot of mental space to get excited for Open Boston. It was one of those things where I was pumped about it in a cognitive and strategic kind of way. But it wasn’t until Friday evening that the emotions of its awesomeness really started to hit me.
Here’s Five Emotional Polaroid’s I Took at Open Boston.
The first one came Friday night. At the speaker’s dinner I had this really fun realization. It’s not too often that I go into a room before a youth ministry event and have to learn a bunch of names.
The youth ministry world is pretty small and most of the people who do training already know one another or at least know of one another. For Open, me not knowing everyone is a very good sign that we’re doing the right thing. We aren’t just looking for new and local voices… we’re finding them.
The second awesome emotional moment was really small. Shae & Stephen Pepper jumped in to help with running our checkin/registration table. (This is how we roll at Open, speakers and sponsors work their butts off!) And Paul, my son, was bored so I asked if he could help them do that. I came by a few times to check on them and Paul was really into it. Getting people’s names and scrolling through the list. “Dad, 83 people have checked in!” That was a fun reminder that The Youth Cartel is a family business where our kids really are part of it. (We ended up with 135 people. That’s really good for a first time event.)
The third emotional moment came in the opening ceremony. Abram was leading worship and I kind of turned around to realize that the room was filling in and that people were singing very, very loudly. I just had this chill g through me as I looked over at Jake… we created something that isn’t just about training, it’s something so much bigger than that.
The fourth emotional moment came as I floated around and heard parts of lots of different sessions. (We had 18 of them.) I wanted to make sure I sat in on a big chunk of Morgan Schmidt’s talk because this was her second Open. The entire theory of Open depends on helping folks develop their voice and build a platform but this depends so much on the speakers themselves developing. Obviously, I’m already a fan of Morgan’s as Marko and I have already signed her to a book deal. But it was amazing to sit in on her session and experience how much better her talk was. (Not that the first one was bad, but this was just exponentially better.) That really got me emotional because it meant that Open wasn’t just working for attendees, it was working for the speakers too.
The last emotional moment came during the closing session. Jake, our organizer, ended up having to lead worship for the last session. In true youth ministry mode he just wore a big pile of roles in pulling Open off. For some reason it was just emotional to know all that he’d done for Open, some of the personal stuff he’s going through at the same time, and that he still has the ability to lead worship to close out the event. Gosh, that was cool!
Today’s my last day in New England. Paul and I drove up to Maine yesterday to find snow. We spent the night at a bed and breakfast in Kennebunkport and will be driving back towards Boston, checking out Harvard Square, then flying home later this afternoon.
It’s been a great trip! I’m so excited about how the alpha test of Open went. And I can’t wait to get serious about adding 4-6 more cities for the beta test phase next school year.