About The Summit

A Creativity Sparker. An Idea Stirrer. An Insight Inviter.

That’s what The Summit is all about.

We’re all for practical training, but training is not really the focus of this event (there are other events that do that really well). Instead, The Summit is intentionally designed to stir your youth ministry imagination and assist you in discerning God’s leading for your wonderfully unique expression of youth ministry.

We carefully select a grouping of presenters and work with them to create short TED-style talks: presentations that are laser focused, provocative, and something you haven’t heard a hundred times before. Our goal is not that you would embrace everything you hear in these presentations, but that they would create an electrically charged field where you will birth new ideas, put words to gut impulses, and dream new dreams.



Youth Ministry has ’em. In our collective “room,” that is. They’re wandering around, taking up space. We avoid these topics, either because we’re unsure how to respond, or we’re afraid of the implications connected to addressing them.

At The Summit this year, we’ll address three of the Elephants in the Room of youth ministry. And while we’ll still utilize the TED-talk format that has made The Summit so unique and valuable, we’re going to dive a little deeper on these three topics. Each one will be addressed from multiple angles, not in attempt to solve them; but with a desire to fully see them. Our hope is to provide a context for you to address these issues in your own context, your own theology, your own story.

Each of these sessions will be curated by a brilliant mind who will help us shape the dialogue. Here’s our session curators: Dan Kimball, on the elephant of Evangelism and Apologetics; and April Diaz on the elephant of Immaturity and Transition in Youth Ministry; Ginny Olson on the elephant of ministry to LBGT teenagers; and closing with Jon Huckins on Elephants as Formation Instigators.

Session Descriptions

Session 1 (Friday Evening)

Elephant: Immaturity and Transition in Youth Ministry
Curator: April Diaz

April, along with other presenters, will guide us in an exploration of the awkward topic of our collective immaturity. While misaligned values and unspoken expectations are normally the cause of conflict, we youth workers often seem to have difficulty seeing our own contribution to the problems. Not knowing how to deal with conflict, we too often move on, only to repeat the pattern. Together, let’s look at the plank in our own eye.

Session 2 (Saturday Morning)

Elephant: Evangelism and Apologetics
Curator: Dan Kimball

In an increasingly post-Christian world, how do we talk about Jesus and the gospel with those outside our youth room? While the age of pluralism has caused some to simply stop talking about Jesus and the gospel, others charge forward with 1980s approaches. Honestly, the issues are complex; and many of us find it easier to avoid altogether. Dan Kimball, along with other presenters, will bring a variety of perspectives and ideas to this Elephant in our collective room.

Session 3 (Saturday Afternoon)

Elephant: Ministry to LBGT Teenagers
Curator: Ginny Olson

We’re not out to change your theology (in either direction!). But let’s be honest enough to admit that we are not wildly succeeding at responding to and including gay teenagers (and those questioning their sexuality). And most of us will be totally lost when we have a transgender teen sign up for summer camp or a mission trip. We promise you: the presenters in this session will not all agree with each other. But our hope is that we’ll all learn and think in the midst of the dialogue about this massive youth ministry Elephant.

Session 4 (Saturday Late Afternoon/Early Evening)

Focus: Elephants as Formation Instigators
Presenter: Jon Huckins

This last session is a chance for us to worship together and wrap up the day with a broader perspective. Jon Huckins is an accomplished guide in the arena of peacemaking; but we’ve asked him to apply those insights to how we address the Elephants that exists in our churches.

Here’s what a few of last year’s attendees had to say:

The Summit is welcome breath of fresh air into the youth ministry conference world. I simply wasn’t looking for another chance to attend a session on “how to do youth ministry better,” and so appreciated the chance to be inspired to think about ministry in completely new ways that sparked change both within me and our ministry.

It’s becoming more and more apparent that we’re living and ministering in a “new” world and the “old” world maps are less and less helpful. The Summit is helping to chart out new maps for the uncharted world we find ourselves trying to navigate today. If you want to find some direction, insight, inspiration or vision for what youth ministry could look like (or needs to look like) in the years to come, I don’t think there’s a better event than The Summit. 

Want to get your ministry team thinking big? Take them to the Summit and reimagine what ministry to and with teens could look like.

The Summit is not a pep rally, group therapy, or a pissing contest of who’s better. It assumes that youth workers are smart people who liked to be challenged and stretched mentally. Thank you. It’s nice to know that not everyone thinks what we do is for dumb-asses in skinny jeans (though skinny jeans were well represented). 



Sessions 1 through 3 will be followed by opportunities to meet with individual presenters who will respond to questions and prod you (and your team) to wrestle with contextual application of the combustible ideas they are passionate about.



Friday, during the day, The Summit offers a handful of 3 to 6 hour sessions that provide breathing room to deeply explore and apply. At the first two Summits, these have been an add-on feature with an extra cost. But for The Summit 2014, we’ve decided to include them in the regular registration price. We’ll be announcing more of these in the months to come; but we hope you’ll plan on joining us for the full two days of this event.

  • Sustainable Youth Ministry – Dave Sippel
  • Arming Teenagers to Wage Peace – Jon Huckins
  • Theological Imagination and Spiritual Practices Among Elephants and Sacred Cows – Mike King
  • Helping Teenagers Own Their Faith – Jake Kircher





Handy Infographic

If you’re an adult who ministers to adolescents, The Summit is for you. The Summit is for youth workers of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, theological heritages, and employment statuses. Full-time, part-time, volunteer, and everything in between. It’s for youth ministry teams who want to dream about what is possible. It’s for youth workers who need to get away and recharge. It’s for college and university students who want to get a pulse of what’s next. It’s for veterans who need to be reaffirmed in their calling. In short, if you love teenagers then The Summit is for you.


We’ve made every effort to make The Summit affordable for every youth worker and youth ministry team. Registration costs will start at $149 per person. For the latest registration information, go to the registration page!

Early Bird
May 1 – July 31
August 1 – October 31
November 1 – November 7
Individual $149 $189 $209
Groups of 3 or more $129 $169 $209


Do you have a refund policy for your events?

Yes. Our policy is to grant event refunds on a case-by-case basis.

  1. We will work with you. Refunds are granted on a case-by-case basis. Such as, if you buy 2 tickets to The Summit and are not able to attend… if it’s 3 weeks out and you let us know we are very likely to refund your money. But if you don’t show up and don’t let us know why we are less likely to extend that refund.
  2. We’re in ministry, we get it. We have spent our lifetime working with people in ministry. We know stuff comes up. So if you suddenly have to bail on an event because of an emergency at home, we’re pretty likely to offer a refund. (A death in the family, something at church blew up, etc.) But if you just didn’t feel like coming at the last minute or you forgot to plan, we’re less likely to offer the refund.
  3. Whenever possible we will be generous. Please understand we are a small business. We produce our events on a shoestring budget and every dollar really matters. For instance, if it is so close to the event that we’ve already spent money because we were planning on you being there we will likely offer you a partial refund. But, if it’s still several weeks away and we’ve not committed to spending money on your behalf, we are highly likely to offer a full refund.


  • Event deposits are non-refundable. If you’d like, we can apply your funds to another attendee.
  • No call, no shows are non-refundable. So if you registered for an event but forgot to come, that’s not our fault.


Please contact us to get started.


The Youth Cartel’s mission is to encourage and challenge adults who minister to youth through holistic professional coaching, strategic consulting, transformational events, and inventive resource development that advance youth ministry in new ways.

To our core, we are passionate about Instigating a Revolution in Youth Ministry.