Someone: “How is Open going?”
Me: “It’s all the things. Quirky, weird, amazing, frustrating, growing, dying, changing, finding a rhythm… I feel like I don’t know how it’s going and I know exactly how it is going at the same time.”
Someone: “Sounds about right.”
Open, by it’s very definition, is the Wild West of Youth Ministry events.
We put together a group of local organizers who don’t necessarily know one another or have worked together. We adapt the event to the needs of the community. We host it at a college or other “neutral” location. We bring in a mix of experienced and inexperienced presenters. And no one gets paid…
Frankly, it’s a crazy cocktail. It shouldn’t work. But it totally does.
Very practically speaking we’ve run thirteen Open events over the past three seasons and not lost money on any of them.
Now, Open isn’t built to make money, we actually give most of it away. But we’re able to take the risks on Open because each person who is part of it comes together for the same reason: We want to advance the cause of ministering to adolescents.
The Road Ahead
Heading into our 4th school year this fall I’m still optimistic about Open. Yup, we’ve had some bumps and bruises. Yup, we’ve “failed fast” on a few things. But yup, the spirit of what Open is all about continues to thrive.
Here’s where we’re at for the 2015-2016 school year as of right now:
- Open Denver (September 2015)
- Open Bay Area (TBA – Hoping for September)
- Open Seattle (October 2015)
- Open Atlanta (Winter 2016)
- Open Orange County (Winter 2016)
- Open Boston (February 2016)
Coming in 2016-2017 school year:
- Open Grand Rapids (moving to Fall 2016)
- Open New York City (October 2016)
If you’re passionate about youth ministry I want to invite you to be part of an Open event. We’d love to have your organization partner with us to pull it off, we’d love to have your ideas for a presentation, we’d love it if you wanted to be part of the organizing team.
I think the one thing that separates Open from every thing else out there in the youth ministry training space: I don’t want to own it. I want to give it away.
Ultimately, Open isn’t about the Cartel. It’s about youth ministry. We don’t create and host these events as a platform for ourselves… we rarely even present! Instead, we create and host these events as a place to learn, share, and contribute to the common thing we can all agree on– we think that a teenager’s life is better with Jesus than without.