I’m not a fan of large crowds and loud noises (they always try to steal my sweet, sweet energy juice). So it was uncharacteristic for me to be so excited about attending The Summit. I don’t think anyone knew what to expect. The sense of anticipation was ripe through the whole event. Here’s what I remember about it.
The Expected Ted-Style
If I were able, I would have made a parody of Gangnam style with Marko and Adam dancing. Sadly, I don’t have those resources. The Summit was formatted on the TED way of presenting which limits time and focuses content. The Summit provided the benefits of this in spades.
Every speaker had to present in a new format, and it showed in a fresh delivery of great content. What took this to the next level were the meetups with presenters in focused discussion. It just worked. I heard so many people asking why no one had tried it before. My guess is that many youth conferences will be trying to replicate this format very soon.
The Unexpected Asides
Early adopters live by a code. We are willing to take chances and be dismayed. So be weird, but show us something that will change the way we think. The Summit brought together a bunch of people, a tribe within a tribe, who want something different. Not just new, but better.
There are too many surprises to mention, but here are a few that have become a standard for Cartel culture:
Everyone was accessible. I ran into Ben Chestnut, presenter and founder/CEO of Mailchimp, at the book store. He appeared to be willing to throw down some cash on a book that would be totally outside of his field. Cool.
The mix of attendees was way more diverse than most conferences. Young and old, hipster and geek were all represented. At one point, I saw a guy who (I’m sorry random person) seemed to be 60 talking excitedly in a corner with an early twenties, bearded guy. I tried to eavesdrop but failed. This scene was repeated throughout the weekend. Ideas kept bouncing off the walls, forcing the attendees into random conversations. Cool.
The diversity of the presenters themselves also made The Summit unique. I have read a lot of authors outside of ministry. Most of my greatest encouragement and creativity comes from outside of the professional Christian world. The Summit had presenters who had never attempted youth ministry or any kind of ministry. Their ideas were useful, though, because they had such a different perspective.
I could write so much more about The Summit, but it still wouldn’t capture the experience. For some people like me, it felt like an acknowledgment of hope. I don’t mean to sound overdramatic, but the future of youth ministry looks dismal at times. That weekend gave me a surprise in looking ahead.
If you missed it, the presentations are available here. Maybe the vibe will come through consuming the media. Also, The Youth Cartel have already committed to next year’s Summit in Atlanta, November 8-9. I won’t miss it.