The Youth Cartel youth ministry

Join us for Open Seattle

I’m getting really pumped for Open Seattle next week. If you live in the Pacific Northwest we’d love to have you. Yesterday, we extended the regular registration deadline until next Monday– so you can still get in for $25!

What’s Open Seattle?

Open is an experiment. It’s asking the the youth ministry world the question… “What would happen if we completely flipped the script on a youth ministry training event?

  • What if a national organization gave leadership to local organizers?
  • What if front-line youth workers were favored in speaker selection over those on the speaking circuit?
  • What if we took chances instead of playing it safe on the stuff we present?
  • What if The Youth Cartel didn’t have to fly its name out front, but instead lifted up the names of its partners?
  • What if none of the speakers got paid? What if I didn’t have to get paid to help organize it… I just did it for a fair share?
  • Speaking of money, what if a local YM charity was benefited financially?
  • Heck, what if we just posted the full event budget online for anyone to see?
  • Why not record everything and then share all the sessions with the community on a central website… so no matter where you live you can have access to training resources and the freshest ideas out there on the ground?
  • What if we perfected the thing and just kind of open-sourced THE WHOLE THING so we can help people who have been to one organize one themselves?
My hope for the answer to all of those questions is… I think that the best ideas will be given a voice. My hope is that when front-line youth workers get an opportunity to share what they know and even their big, crazy ideas with a group of people just like them… that it’ll spur on more ideas and spark new innovations with the net result that we’ll reach more teenagers with the Good News.

So yes, it’s an experimental thing. Originally there was a lot of risk. It was really hard to explain the overall concept to the first few partners– Jeff at SPU, Brian Aaby at YouthMark, Mark Moder at Youth Dynamics. But as we kept talking about it this idea really took off. They made the idea even better.

At this point in preparation– I’m not feeling this is as big a risk anymore. Actually, when I look at the people who are presenting and the folks who are coming I don’t see a lot of risk. Now I just see an awesome, affordable, innovative event. 

We’ve got two tracks of learning. One is training, it’s full of great stuff as a refresher for the paid person and covering a lot of bases for your volunteers. The second track is all about ideas. It’s got some stuff in there that’ll cause you to scratch your head or write stuff down or just plain want to wrestle the speaker at the after party.

For $25 You Get

  1. 16 sessions
  2. A free t-shirt
  3. The ability to say you were at the very first one of these. (We’ve got two more planned for this school year, one in Boston and one in Paris.)

In 2013-2014 we hope to add 6 more of these as we beta test the concept… 4 more in the United States, 1 more in Europe, and 1 Lord willing, in Canada.

I hope to see you next weekend on the campus of Seattle Pacific University. And if you can’t make it there, I hope to see you at an Open event soon.

hmm... thoughts

The Fight

For Rocky & the Karate Kid, they knew who their enemy was. They knew who to train to beat. And they were desperate to win.

But what about you… Who is your enemy? What are you fighting for? When is your battle scheduled? 

The Youth Cartel

A Parent’s Guide to Social Media

Last week, I put together a sweet little seminar for parent’s called, A Parent’s Guide to Social Media.

It’s an hour-long training session aimed at removing the fear about what their teenagers might be doing online and back-filling it with the latest research, then helps to build a theological framework for raising kids in a digital world.

Part of the challenge of putting together something like this is that the data behind it will change all the time. (New research comes out from the big players quarterly while lots of additional one-off research is published all the time by universities and the marketing world.)

That’s why teaching parents principles is more important than merely looking at trends. They need to know what to do today. But they also need to know what’s going to work with the next thing that comes out.

Long story short, I’ve now down this seminar with two groups of parents and it’s gone pretty well. If you’re interested in having me come to your church or event to present this stuff, just let me know.

McLane Creative

Learn from me on December 3rd

If you live in Southern California (or are willing to come visit) I am hosting 2 classes on December 3rd through a brand new website, Skillshare.

Growing your business with Mailchimp

How to get started with Mailchimp, set-up and grow your lists, and grow your business

Mailchimp is an amazingly powerful tool. Whether you are a small start-up, a restaurant, a band, or a non-profit– Mailchimp can help you grow your business. In this 2-hour class we’ll quickly cover the basics of the service and quickly dive into unleashing the power of this amazing email marketing webapp. We’ll talk about lists & groups, templates, integrations with tools like Eventbrite, Facebook, and Salesforce, and email marketing strategy.

Cost – $25 Register here

Blogging 101

Learn how to start a blog from scratch, build an audience, and have fun while doing it!

This class will be laid back but full of experience, practical application, and practice. As a full-time blogger and blog coach I’ve helped countless bloggers get going for their own blogs and even launch small businesses.

Topics covered: (But not limited to)

  • Getting started for free
  • Choosing the right platform
  • Customizing your blog
  • What to write about
  • How to write for response
  • How to build a tribe
  • Intro to analytics and other measurement tools
  • Principles of social media interaction

The class will be two hours. But the format is loose and I won’t leave until I’ve answered all of your questions. My goal is that you walk away with a firm understanding of what to do AND ready to get started. In true McLane Creative form, after class the teacher is buying the first round next door at the Mission Brewery.

Cost – $25 Register here

McLane Creative

Speaking Schedule so far this Fall

I’m definitely not an “on the road all the time” speaker dude. But I do love teaching and training and I’m stoked to have a few opportunities coming this Fall.

Here’s my next three:

  • WordCamp LA – September 10th, Loyola Marymount UniversityTickets – If you’re a WordPress junkie you know WordCamp is the place the local community gathers to learn from one another. I’m leading a workshop on creating and maintaining an online presence for your brand.
  • National Youth Workers Convention San Diego – October 1st – 3rd, Town & Country Resort – Tickets – I’m doing a lot at NYWC! I’m leading a fishbowl discussion called, Expanding the Vision: Rethinking Volunteers. I’m teaching a workshop called, Creating an Online Ministry. And I have a few sessions in the interactive media area, Getting Started as a Blogger, Free and Awesome Communications Tools for Youth Workers, and How to Customize a Facebook Page.
  • National Youth Workers Convention Atlanta – November 18 – 21, Marriott Marquis – Tickets – Same sessions as San Diego.
If you have a training event, retreat, or even want to bring me in for a day of consultation – Send me a note.  As a reader of my blog, you know I’m not limited to the topics I’m speaking on this Fall.
Church Leadership

Training to Save Lives

On June 1st, 2009 Air France flight 447 left Rio de Janeiro for Paris simply disappeared. 228 people and a giant plane vanished and was never heard from again. Family and friends arrived at the airport to pick-up loved ones who never arrived.

Did it blow up suddenly? Was it hijacked? Was it accidentally shot down by a renegade fighter pilot?

For nearly two years no one had any idea what happened. Families only knew that their loved ones were not coming home.

That changed when the flight data recorder was recovered recently, 2.5 miles below the oceans surface.

The cause? It was operator error. A pilot mistake caused the planes engines to stall and the jet basically fell from the sky at 100 feet per second. The plane fell 7 miles out of the sky in 3.5 minutes.

The French government’s preliminary report describes what happened:

The Air France jet’s 7-mile plunge into the Atlantic Ocean began suddenly when the jet’s instruments went haywire. Ice had blocked the jet’s speed sensors; the pilots could not tell how fast they were going. Warnings and alerts sounded almost simultaneously.

In response, the pilots made a series of mistakes, according to the French Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses, the agency that investigates aviation accidents.

Instead of flying level while they diagnosed the problem, one of the pilots climbed steeply, which caused a loss of speed. Then the aggressive nose-up pitch of the plane and the slower speed caused air to stop flowing smoothly over the wings, triggering a loss of lift and a rapid descent.

They had entered an aerodynamic stall — which has nothing to do with the engines, which operated normally — meaning the wings could no longer keep the plane aloft. Once a plane is stalled, the correct response is to lower the nose and increase speed.

For nearly the entire 3½ minutes before they crashed into the ocean, the pilots did the opposite, holding the Airbus A330‘s joystick back to lift the nose.

Read the rest @ USA Today’s, Alan Levin

For some reason the pilot’s brain was telling him, “I need to go up, I have the joy stick pointed up, we are OK.” But the situation called for him to do something counter-intuitive– to point the joy stick down so the plane would gain speed and the engines would turn back on, air would flow over the wings, and they could continue on their journey to France unharmed.

A lack of training of the pilot to do something counter-intuitive cost 228 lives.

What does this have to do with me?

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.” – Colossians 4:5

Our instincts lie to us in the most important moments.

  • God puts us in the path of a hurting student, we get a clue as to what is going on in a casual conversation, and our instincts lie to us. They will be OK. It’s just a phase. It’s really none of my business.
  • God puts us in the path of a student who doesn’t know Christ, they ask us… “So, why did you come to my soccer game, I mean it’s really cool that you came, I just don’t know why you want to be in my life.” Our instinct tells us to play it cool and just keep building that relationship while we miss a golden opportunity to introduce a student to the only relationship they really need in high school.
  • God puts us in the path of an exasperated parent, they tell us they are struggling and they are arguing with their spouse a lot, and our instincts lie to us. Adding one more thing and meeting with me won’t help them, I’m just the youth pastor anyway.
  • God puts us in the path of a young woman being exploited and our instincts betray us. I don’t really know her, I just met her randomly at the train station. And I don’t want to get in any trouble. Meanwhile, a trafficker continues to sell this runaway to any creep with $100.

If you don’t have training to know when and how to respond, in Jesus’ name, in a counter-intuitive manner to your instincts you will miss more often than not.

Making the most of every opportunity means that you need training to see every opportunity and know what to do in each of those instances. Mention that to anyone in your church and they will LURCH BACK! “I wouldn’t have a clue what to do in any of those situations?”

Herein lies the problem. A lack of training is costing lives in your community.

Economic times are tough. And into that economic reality a new lie has found fertile ground and grown amongst church leaders that people in ministry and especially people in the laity don’t really need training– they just need to feel things out and listen to the Holy Spirit, you’ll know what to do.

Nonesense. That is a lie from the mouth of Satan himself!

A life with Christ has nothing to do with passively sitting on your hands, singing some songs, and dropping some cheese in the offering plate.

Your ministry as a leader isn’t about your teaching. (Nor success measured by your ability to attract a crowd.) It’s about what people do with your teaching, otherwise you’d be called a teacher. Teach them to save lives and kick them out of your pews and into their reality! Live it out in your own life. Lead them to places that they would otherwise not go on their own… that’s how you lead!

Want to see your church explode? Refuse to teach new things until they have tried what you’ve already taught them. (James 1:22-25) We don’t have a lack of preaching in America, we have a lack of application.

Training saves lives both in the physical world and the spiritual world. As a leader you will never make a more wise or cheap investment as training your people to both listen to the Holy Spirit and re-orientate false instincts to God-ordained ministry instincts and skills.

youth ministry

What the heck is YS Palooza?

Church Leadership management

The Pastor Man Up Movement

The last few years has seen the popularization of something I refer to as the Pastor Man Up Movement. (PMUP)

You hear things said, like “Pastor, if anyone is going to lead your church, it has to be you.” Or, “No one else in the church is called to lead more than you.” Or, “It’s time the pastors of the church took control from the committees.” It’s an interesting phenomenon. And it’s promoting a lot of abuse of power. Pastors read a blog or hear a PMUP message and run to the next meeting all full of testosterone instead of grace.

It’s dangerous to take the power that a pastor is given and then encourage that person to exert his will on a congregation.

It’s like storing a keg of black powder in a cigar bar. Eventually there will be an explosion.

In a healthy context there’s nothing wrong with this movement. It’s good for pastors and church staff to be leaders and to be reminded of their calling. That’s why we pay them. (Let’s not lose site of that fact. I know many people have been abused by the church, but there really are healthy churches out there.) When we hire pastors at our churches we should empower them to lead. I currently attend a church where the church staff are good leaders. They seek wise counsel, they are temperate, they consider the needs of the whole congregation in making decisions, they work hard to battle “what people want” vs “what the Bible is asking us to do.” I’ve never sensed that they are afraid to lead.

The problem is that it’s also become popular to hire staff members with little or no formal training. It’s not unusual for me to hear of people joining a church staff with not only no formal training at the undergraduate/graduate level– they’ve not even been an intern or been taught how to lead a church in an informal setting. They have zero training to enter the ministry. Literally, one week they are selling cars (or whatever) and the next week they have the title of pastor. Few other professions do this the way churches do. You wouldn’t hire a teacher to be a lawyer. Nor would you hire a vet to be a physician or a CPA to be a plumber. But in the church? It’s become en vogue to hire non-professionals.

[My suspicion is that those people who leave a profession to enter the ministry probably weren’t that good at their profession in the first place. But it’s quite an ego boost to go from being a CPA to an executive pastor! It’s not like a mediocre CPA was going to make partner.]

PMUP + Untrained staff = Explosion waiting to happen

A couple of thoughts about this combination:

  • When a senior pastor surrounds himself with untrained associates this should tell you something about the leader of the senior.
  • There’s nothing wrong with being a strong leader. But if no one is following you of their own free will… you aren’t leading. You are a dictator. (Remember how things end for most dictators)
  • When a church calls an untrained person to be their pastor, this should tell you something about the congregation.
  • It makes me giggle when a bunch of dudes decide that they need to man-up. I grew up thinking that a real man took care of the people around him, not used his weight to get his way.
  • Where in the Bible were deacons/overseers/elders told they should man up?
  • When did the will of a congregation/voting become a bad thing?
  • Sometimes it seems as though people are selling themselves and their vision instead of God’s vision. As a churchgoer, all I know if I’m stuck with the bill.
  • If someone has to throw around their weight to make things happen, does that make them a leader worth following?
  • The unspoken message every person knows in a church is that if the pastor can’t exert his will, the congregation runs the risk of the person quitting. (This isn’t “manning up.” It’s “taking my ball and going home.”)
  • When did formal eduction/training as an entry point to ministry become a bad thing? And if churches are  going to hire untrained staff, why don’t they budget for properly training them?
social media

A Pastor Who Gets It

There’s a tiny amount of cynicism when you hang out with church leaders. We have a hard job and it comes out in funny ways.

That guy just doesn’t get it.

There are lots of conversations where church leaders don’t get it. Talk to any associate level pastoral staff member, church secretary, maintenance person, van driver, or ministry volunteer and you’ll hear it. “My pastor doesn’t get it.

And, in all fairness, the job is too big to “get everything.” You simply have to chose what to “get” and what to “punt” on.

In my world when a pastor doesn’t get it— that usually means that the suck at all things computer related.

How these people got through seminary I’ll never know! But I’ve met too many pastors who can’t use Microsoft Office or manage their email or find stuff using Google.

And when it comes to social media– some pastors get it but most don’t. Facebook, Twitter, blogging, live broadcasts online… they glaze over as I talk about these things!

And yet over and over again, when I meet with pastors, they tell me “I want to get it.

This is precisely why I contacted Doug and Tony over at JoPa productions and asked them to bring Pastors’ Social Media Bootcamp to San Diego next week.

Pastors want to get it. Let’s make sure they get the training they need to get it.

San Diego Living social media

Social Media Training for Pastors Coming to San Diego

I bump into church staff all over San Diego County who have the same question, “I hear that social media is a great way to reach people, but I don’t know how to get started, and I don’t have a lot of time to figure it out.

Youth pastors. Church planters. Senior pastors. They all have the same questions!

I love the heart behind that question! It shows an earnest desire to try to reach people in their community, but also acknowledges a need for some basic training.

So when I saw that Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones had put together a one-day training seminar which teaches church staff the basics of blogging, Twitter, Facebook, and live streaming your church service— I knew I wanted to bring them to San Diego.

I love training church staff over coffee, but the truth was that there are way more pastors who need help on this stuff that time that I have to train them over a cup of coffee. This way is just a lot better and more thorough than I can handle. (Plus, Kristen says I get goofy when I drink too much coffee)

The first half of the day talks about social media philosophy and the second half is nuts and bolts of getting started. In talking to them about the content, this is entry-level– right where most pastors are. The feedback from participants in other cities has been fantastic.

I hope to see you (or your boss) there!

Here are the details:

Date: March 9th, 2010
Time: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Location: Christ Lutheran Church – Pacific Beach
Registration cost: $95, lunch included
All the details are right here
Presenters: Doug Pagitt and Spencer Burke