Archive for the events Category

Teacher spends two days as a student and is shocked at what she learns

Posted in creativity, events, faith, learning on 11/16/2014 by mark novelli


Fascinating article that I think the observations can be applied to education, church and events in general.  Here is a segment:

Key Takeaway #2

High school students are sitting passively and listening during approximately 90 percent of their classes.

Obviously I was only shadowing for two days, but in follow-up interviews with both of my host students, they assured me that the classes I experienced were fairly typical.

Read the full article HERE.

When a conference works (and doesn’t)

Posted in culture, events on 01/23/2013 by mark novelli


Recently I read a post by Seth Godin about what makes a conference work- it sparked some thoughts.

I love events. I am involved, on a variety of levels, with the planning of several conferences each year.

I ‘ve had many conversations while planning events about how they need to change to embrace a shifting culture. In a world where there is a constant stream of information from brilliant people — I can watch Ted Talks, listen to podcasts, you tube clips, read blogs — how do I justify the time and expense of going to an event? Especially if the event is just about disseminating information —  just another lecture, or just another talking head.

There must be some dynamic that makes the event worth it for me.

I think the answer lies in the collaboration of those attending, creating a sense of community and personal connection, and creating a unique experience. I also like Seth’s idea of an event being a part of a greater movement. (I encourage you to read Seth Godin’s blog.)

What makes a conference work for you?

Heading to Atlanta for NYWC!

Posted in about imago, events on 11/16/2011 by mark novelli

Michael Novelli and I are heading to Atlanta on Friday to the National Youth Workers Convention.

We are teaching a session together entitled: Story, Experience, and Collaboration: New Approaches to Youth Ministry  For more info click HERE.

Let me know if you will be there and would like to grab coffee!

music video created from fans through instagram

Posted in communication, creativity, culture, events, gatherings on 08/03/2011 by mark novelli

I thought this was a pretty cool viral idea – let fans create it by upload pictures. I think this idea has potential for many different settings – I am specifically thinking about community gatherings.

Check it out HERE.

MERGE 2011 (Instant Nostalgia)

Posted in about imago, events, learning on 07/20/2011 by Kelly Dolan

The clip above is a photo highlights video of our time at MERGE last week. We showed it Saturday morning in our final gathering together. Watching students and leaders respond to the video was a lot of fun, and instant nostalgia was definitely in full effect.

Every day of MERGE is packed with interconnected experiences from the time students wake up until the time they go back to the dorms at night. We’ve found that it’s really important to give them moments throughout the day to simply stop and reflect on what they’ve experienced over even the previous few hours. But it’s for more than nostalgia’s sake. At MERGE, we tried to help students become more aware of those moments in each day where they found themselves wrapped up on God’s amazing story, or made a real connection with God, learned something new, or heard from God in a specific way.

Then, we had the joy of sitting back and listening to students share those moments with each other. Some students used art to share. Others wrote spoken word pieces. Others simply wrote a letter to God, then read it for all of us.

For every image we captured at MERGE, and for every moment a student shared with us, we know there are countless more moments where God was at work in students’ lives.

We are grateful to have witnessed some of those moments, and to have been a part.

Ready for MERGE

Posted in about imago, communication, creativity, events, faith, gatherings, learning, story on 07/08/2011 by Kelly Dolan

Tomorrow, we head up to Cornerstone University with Michael Novelli and the rest of the team for MERGE 2011. Students and leaders will arrive Monday of next week, and we’re so happy to have a mix of new and returning groups joining us. As we’ve said on the blog before (and pretty much any time we talk about it), MERGE is one of our most favorite things we do each year.

One of the main reasons is that MERGE is a chance for us to take all that we are learning about narrative, experiential learning and creative communication, and use that learning to inspire us to try new things, new ways of learning and gathering. It’s the kind of stuff we think about and help other organizations with year round. But at MERGE, we get to personally be with student ministries for a week and do everything we can to help them truly experience God’s story, and find themselves in that story.

Another reason MERGE is a highlight for us is that the entire week is shaped by the students themselves. We don’t have a central communicator for the week. No one tells students exactly what they’re supposed to learn. Instead, we provide a wide range of creative experiences and a learner-centered environment where we trust God will speak directly to students throughout the day. As they go through the day, we have specific times when students share with one another what they are learning and how God has been speaking. In doing so, the students become the teachers of one another.

It’s really an amazing thing to watch, and we couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of this event!

You can keep up with us throughout the week here, and on the MERGE Facebook page, or by following us on Twitter.

Why Come to MERGE (again)?

Posted in about imago, events on 05/13/2011 by Kelly Dolan

We sometimes get asked why groups should consider coming to MERGE. We thought the best way to answer that was to have a leader who has brought a group (and is returning again to this year’s event) share his experience with MERGE.

Steve Cornelius, Youth Pastor at Mission Covenant Church in Poplar, WI was kind of enough to take some time to answer a few questions we threw his way:

When did your group attend MERGE, and what was the impact it had on your students?
Summer of 2010. It was a great trip for the students. Like any trip with time in a smelly van and a week together, you bond. The students had a great shared experience that week. I think the greatest impact of the trip was what they experienced together. Whenever you can take a week to dive into the story of God, and let that be the focus, you are bound to have wonderful things happen. We have students that now have a working timeline of the scriptures.

Had you already tried storying in your youth ministry? How did your students respond?
We had tried storying in our group. We had actually used the very same stories that we use at MERGE the previous school year. Storying has been such a great way to communicate God’s truth with students. It was a little uncomfortable at first for the students and myself. Mainly because it was different than what we had done before. I think I had to have a small reality check as well, because storying took the focus off of me and put it back on the story.

You’re coming back again this year. Why?
For me, I have seen more positive impact from this youth event than any other. I am not in any way putting down other events for students, I just love what MERGE is about. I have students gripping the truth that their story and God’s story are connected. This changes the way they view the world around them. It has been a great change.

What value do you think there is for students to experience MERGE more than once?
I have several students who want to go again before they graduate, and I have also done back-to-back years of storying. It amazes me: the depth of God’s story, and how we always discover fresh truth as we explore it together.