Orange Tour notes 2015 – summaries from various sessions.
Orange is one of the best resources I recommend to churches. Orange curriculum, books and conferences help leaders in executive, children and youth ministries. This April, 5000 people (including me) will descend on Atlanta for the Orange Conference 2016. Registration begins this week.
Orange also does regional one-day conferences. Those events present much of what is taught in the main conference in Atlanta. To get a feel for what Orange is all about, here are notes (courtesy Cheryl Kneeland) from this year’s Orange Tour Seattle.
ORANGE TOUR 2015 NOTES – MAIN SESSION #1
It’s Just A Phase, So Don’t Miss It – Reggie Joiner
Along the way whether you’re working with 2nd or 3rd or 4th or 5th graders… you could miss important things in each phase if you’re not paying attention. Life just keeps moving so fast.
It’s really easy to miss the things that are going on in different phases; if we’re not careful, not paying attention, we will miss it.
We don’t see what we don’t see. You as a leader are a guide… it is your responsibility to guide them through the phase and into the next phase.
Invisible questions kids ask in various phases:
> Birth – Am I safe? (The ‘I need you now’ phase.)
> 2nd Grade – Do I have what it takes?
> 6th Grade – Who do I like? / Who likes me?
> 10th Grade – Why should I believe?
As a parent you have to redefine your role at every stage. It’s tricky, it changes.
Single word to describe each phase:
> Preschool – EMBRACE
> Elementary – ENGAGE
> Middle School – AFFIRM
> High School – MOBILIZE
We don’t remember what we don’t remember. One thing to remember: Every kid is made in the image of God.
Every kid has a divine capacity to…reason, improve, and lead.
To care, relate, and trust.
To believe, to imagine… even to love.
“Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me…” -Jesus
Reggie’s translation of that verse: “I want you to treat kids like you would treat me” -Jesus
“In a lot of our churches we are so programmed to see sin in their life that we forget they are made in the image of God.”
He/she is made in the image of God.
What would happen if we…
Treat every student who breathes like they are made in the image of God.
Every kid, even those that do not attend your church and whose parents don’t attend church, are made in the image of God. Every middle schooler, even those that don’t tithe, are made in the image of God. Every kid, even those that are not homeschooled or sent to private Christian schools are made in the image of God.
Don’t expect kids to follow Jesus until you treat them like they are make in the image of God.
Kids need to trust you before they ever trust God.
ORANGE TOUR 2015 NOTES – MAIN SESSION #2
How To Live Out The Phases – Reggie Joiner
The two most important people in a child or student’s life are their parent and small group leader.
Phase: a time frame in a kid’s life when you can leverage distinctive opportunities to influence their future.
At the end of the day, if they miss God somehow in this, none of the rest matters. We’re all here together because we are connected by something bigger. This is also the same thing you have in common with the non-Christian parents.
Conversation between Kara Powell and Reggie Joiner:
What can we do to get our parents to engage more?
So many parents these days are “dry cleaner parents”, just want to drop their kids off once a week spiritually dirty and come back 90 minutes later to pick them up “clean.” Getting the parent to be engaged in what your doing is huge! Leverage the phase to give the parent new information and help them redefine their role as a parent every year. Create rhythms to engage/connect with parents. Every week pray for parents for five minutes, every week send out a parent email from weekly, every month send a parenting article/tool, every year hold parent/SGL/student conferences once a year.
How can we get influence with families in the community?
“We’re so often known for what we’re against as churches. I wish we could be known for what we’re for rather than what we’re against.” says Kara Powell. If families in your community start to realize that you are trying to help them win, it changes the atmosphere.
How can we get our staff to play together better?
We have to raise the bar. Every phase is the most important phase. We want you to look at content and be both a specialist and a globalist. We really need to support each other. Jesus says that they will know we are Christians by the way we love each other, but what if they know we are Christians just by the way we like each other?
How can we keep kids from getting lost in the transitions?
What are the times that our kids jump off a cliff in attendance and what are we going to do about it? What are we going to do to help with the transitions? It’s not an event, it’s a process.
(Conversation with Kara ends here, Reggie continues the presentation).
We don’t anticipate what we don’t anticipate. As leaders and as parents we meed to think ahead and not just look at this Sunday, but where they are going next year, two years, etc.
Read more than just your Bible. “The Bible is all true, but not everything I need to know is in the Bible.” Some of the best advice we get is from other people who are also made in the image of God.
The enemy despises us because we are made in God’s image. If the enemy has a strategy and is trying to anticipate the next steps of our children, why shouldn’t we have a strategy?
> 4 out of 10 kids grow up without a father. We need to be aware of potential pitfalls.
> 80% of ten year girls worry that they are not thin enough.
> 2 out of 10 seven to eleven year-olds are sexually abused. These things don’t have to define them.
> 50% of kids will have seen porn by the time they are 13.
> 1 in 10 kids will start cutting in middle school.
> 6 out of 10 students in 12th grade will be sexually active.
> Suicides peak in the 10th grade. 10th grade is critical. The potential of suicides drops in half in 11th grade. The pressure is piled on. Think in terms of the bigger picture.
The point is, we need a strategy. Sometimes we are fighting a battle on the wrong front, the wrong things.
Why are we fighting against same sex marriage instead of fighting against bullying (and help the kids that are struggling with same sex attraction and killing themselves).
Our job is not to change people. The Bible doesn’t say anywhere that we are to change our neighbor as ourselves. We are to love them.
Strategy is key. God has a strategy. God had a strategy to reclaim us to redeem us. When you show up for kids in the different phases, you are part of God’s strategy for them.
Preschool: When you EMBRACE kids at this age, you are doing exactly what Jesus showed up on the planet to do.
Elementary: When you sit in a circle and ENGAGE them you are doing what Jesus did, you make them a big deal like Jesus did. You are connecting dots and take time to craft it in a way that they will get it and a light bulb will come on. You are shaping their identity.
Middle School: You are the church; you understand grace, forgiveness, the gospel. They need leaders who will show up in their life and forgive them. They need to know that they can start again when they fail, that they matter. When you AFFIRM them you are doing exactly what Jesus did.
High School: They don’t need more Bible studies, better worship, and bigger speakers. They need someone who believes in their potential and is 100% committed to them, helping them find their potential. When you MOBILIZE them you are doing what Jesus did when he died on the cross.
Jesus came to fix what the first Adam messed up. He treated everyone like they mattered, because they do. He demonstrated with his death that image of God is worth living for. God loves them (us). We are a part of this strategy, don’t forget it.
ORANGE TOUR 2015 NOTES – MAIN SESSION #3
The Compounding Benefits Of Relationship Over Time – Reggie Joiner
When you see how much time you have left you tend to get serious about the time you have now. What would we do if we were really thinking strategically about these 200 weeks? When you see how much time you left you tend to value what happens over time. Every week matters. Collective momentum in a kid’s life. Small group leaders that are in a kid’s life for multiple seasons, have a different impact on them.
Love Over Time: With every kid at every phase, they need love, stories, fun, a place to belong, etc. over time. Reinforce love over time. We know God loves us because he kept pursuing us over time. He wanted to use time as his platform to prove that He loves us unconditionally.
As a parent or leader of a 9th grader, you have to learn how to let go and how to hold on. Keep showing up and allow them to fail. Don’t be afraid of failure happening, leverage those moments to show them how much they have value and worth.
Myth: Teenagers don’t need you as much as they did when they were kids.
Small group leader: Keep showing up every week. (I am carving out time every week to be with you, because you are that important).
Parents: Keep showing up every day.
Phases of a kid’s life… from car seat, to stroller, to wagon, to bike… to car.
Stories Over Time: God’s story at this point has to become my story and His story together.
The worst thing you can do as a parent of a high school student is to try to make them think you’re perfect. Don’t pretend you are something you are not. The best thing you can do is let them see that you need grace and forgiveness too. The most important story you can hand them is the story of God’s redemption in your life. Isn’t God great? He even let me be a parent.
Myth: God’s story is not relevant to a student’s every day life.
Small group leader: Engage your group in stories that are bigger than your church.
Parents: Engage your family in stories that are bigger than your family.
You are not limited because of your life or what has happened in your life. He is bigger than that.
Work Over Time: God wired us, God made us to contribute to something bigger. They will forget what you say, what you program, but they will not forget what God does through them to help someone else.
Myth: Teenagers are not ready to lead. Give them something significant to do. You want to do something in the heart of a teen.
Small group leader: Enlist students to serve every week.
Parents: Encourage your students to serve every week.
Please don’t miss this phase. Do everything you can to give them opportunities to serve. Teach them to be the church.
Work over time gives them significance.
Words Over Time: What you stay still matters. The average teen will get seven words of criticism for every one word of praise. What you don’t say may matter more. Develop the skill of listening to them. (Even if it’s after 10pm). What others say may matter even more. You are giving them a relational vocabulary and a spiritual vocabulary. Words over time give direction.
Small group leader: Create safe places for conversations.
Parents: Create strategic places for conversations.
Fun Over Time = Connection: Joy & Forgiveness are the two things that will determine whether a kid comes back to your house or not, whether they come back to our church or not.
Small Group Leader: Schedule fun with an agenda.
Parents: Schedule fun without an agenda. (Fight for your friendship).
Tribes Over Time = Belonging: They will care more about what their friends think than what you think, they will care more about what other adults think than what you think, and they will care more about what you think more than anything else, all at the same time. You want them to grow up and value community for the rest of their life.
Small Group Leader: Cue parents to participate with what’s happening at church.
Parents: Cue your small group leader to be aware of what is happening at home.
You will never really feel forgiven by someone who doesn’t know you. Don’t just show up for a few months or a year. Build trust, have opportunities to show them forgiveness, demonstrate who God is to them by forgiving them.
We are responsible for being other adults in the life of a student. Rally around teenagers. See the teenager in a different way so we are protecting our investment in them before they walk away. Keep investing, keep engaging, keep affirming, launch them!
ORANGE TOUR 2015 – BREAKOUT NOTES
Breakout A – “Do Over” Jon Acuff
There are many changes in your life and work. Some are voluntary and some are involuntary. All work changes fall into one of four categories:
Voluntary Negative Moment: Work Ceiling
You willingly get stuck. Maybe you’re at work disengaged. There is risk in innovation, but when it goes well you go into protection mode and you or your ministry get stuck.
Negative Involuntary Moment: Work Bump
Maybe you lost your best volunteer or your most popular student graduates.
Positive Voluntary Moment: Work Jump
Dared to do something new.
Positive Involuntary Moment: Work Opportunity
When something happens that you can’t predict or plan for, but they are positive opportunities.
You will go through all four of those moments some days.
It’s not about avoiding the negative side, it’s about navigating it.
Successful people have a career savings account. Relationships + skills + character + hustle = career savings account. (Career is anything we are passionate about). You need all four in your ministry and your life.
Skills (Ceiling): It’s impossible to get stuck somewhere old if you learn something new. Are there places where you’ve let your skills go dull?
Relationships (Bump): You either break out or break up. People you didn’t even know existed will be there for you in a difficult moment and some people you expected to be there won’t.
Focus on relationships. Lead like everyone is smarter than you. Don’t wait until you have consensus to make a decision. Make the best decision as a leader. Be a multiplier, someone that increases the potential of everyone they work with.
It’s impossible to lead this way if you put your identity in your work. Your identity needs to be rooted in Christ.
There is an expectation that you have all the answers and if you’re not careful, it’s really easy to pretend that you do and people will see through that, it won’t work. Admit your weaknesses.
Fixed Mindset (If you succeed, I feel threatened) vs. Growth Mindset (I can learn every day).
Beware leaders who can’t say:
> I don’t know.
> I was wrong.
> I’m sorry.
If you wall yourself up from feedback from others, you become a leader who no one can talk to. Leaders who can’t be questioned, end up doing questionable things.
You’ll never be done with ministry, you’ll never finish social media for the day, etc. Your projects need space and time to change. Great relationships take great time. Create space for people to share ideas. What would it look like to build time to ask the people you work with questions, your volunteers, parents?
If you have a church that has tradition, get together and strip it down to the studs, the roots. If you got rid of everything, what are the five most important things? Put them on the wall. Then make a list of what the kids/students/families in the community need and put that on the wall. Look at the gap and see where you are actually trying to go.
If you lead people, you should go back and ask them if they can tell you the truth.
Clarity is not easy. It’s a shift, it’s a change.
It’s easy to share new ideas in a secular business community than in a Christian community. Secular businesses criticize the idea if they don’t like it. Christians criticize your soul, not the idea.
The parent who hates you the most often has the kid who needs you the most. (That kid hears the parent’s criticism every day).
The work you’re doing matters. Lead with humility, add time to the work you’re doing, and fight for clarity.
ORANGE TOUR 2015 – BREAKOUT NOTES
Breakout B – Leveraging Phases to Build Faith in Students
Speaker: Joseph Sojourner
It’s just a phase so teach like love matters. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love God, love your neighbor, love yourself.
What do we want to make sure that students know the most?
It’s just a phase so play to your audience.
It’s making sure that we do everything in our power to go the extra mile to speak to them in their language.
Your job is not to redefine God at every phase, but your job is to help kids rediscover God in a new way at each phase.
As adults we can make the mistake of connecting kids and teenagers to a God who seems irrelevant. How do we find a way to make sure it’s relevant to everyone in the room, but especially to a student who is there for the first time?
Instant connectors make God relevant to students.
We make the mistake of connecting kids and teenagers to a God who seems small. They need to understand that God is fighting for them every day.
Don’t forget to mention that this is one step on your journey with God, He is so much bigger, you will forever continue to learn more about God and you will be shaken up every year if you are really pressing into Him.
Middle School- AFFIRM: The phase in their journey where they are looking for affirmation.
God’s story redeems my story.
We want them to start asking questions… and get comfortable with finding answers and asking questions. You are teaching them how to love others appropriately, showing them that group is safe.
3 Things to do to help Middle Schoolers:
Connect the dots. When it comes to God, you have this huge vision of who God is and then you have me… how do I connect to God? The goal is to equip small group leaders with as much as possible early to help them help their few connect the dots. Oh, so that’s how that story relates to me.
Expect a crisis: Keep a poker face/straight face, don’t freak out. Expect it so you are able to react appropriately. If we over-react we look shaken up. If we under-react, it will impact them. Sometimes you can address it in group, and sometimes you need to address it with them separately. If they are hurting themselves, hurting someone else, or being abused; please inform a staff member. Staff members need to be involved.
Be consistent: You get questions every single week. The simplest thing you can do as a small group leader is being consistently there. Camp is the perfect opportunity to have the small group leader bond with their small groups.
High School- MOBILIZE: God’s story empowers my story.
3 Things to do to help High Schoolers:
Give an application. They want to know what they can do, don’t just give them a big picture, they want to wrap their hands on it and do something. You gave me something to do and it actually happened.
Ask Questions: They are old enough to start processing things for themselves. Questions are a great tool. Sometimes it’s better to have a HS small group leader that doesn’t know their middle school history. A reset is good. Talk to them in a brand new way, asking a lot more questions. Questions is one of the greatest tool a small group leader has. Why do you think that? Why do you think this? Master the art of asking questions.
Make it experiential: Let them see and show them that the church can be fun.
Here’s how we can talk about this, but what can we do to help them connect to this? We can push students to be leaders in way they weren’t able to grasp as a middle school student. Student impact- Let them serve in a variety of areas around the church every single Sunday. Students that are able to serve and live out their faith, will generally hang onto their faith better.
It’s just a phase so recycle what is most important.
The reality is that your middle schoolers will use their smartphone more in one week than they will attend your church in one year. We want to teach them how to use the Bible. How are you going to influence the spiritual direction of the average child or teenager when you only have a few minutes every other week?
It’s not really your job to teach every kid everything that’s in the Bible to every kid at every phase. Just because everything in the Bible is true doesn’t mean everything in the Bible is equally important.
ORANGE TOUR 2015 – BREAKOUT NOTES
Lead Small Kids – Speakers: Sue Miller, Afton Manny, & Kellen
Kids get stuck. Stuck academically, stuck emotionally. What causes them to get stuck? Kids get stuck when they don’t know what it feels like to win. Move them to do something significant.
A win for a two year old is: Serving by cleaning up, Showing up, Sharing toys.
A win for a third grader is: Canned food drive for the homeless, let each child feel significant by letting them share in small group.
Processing with kids is very important too. Tell the older kids why, help them see the process behind what your doing.
Kids get stuck when they don’t know what they can do. Move them to discover their voices. A good coach will take each player on the team and figure out what they’re good at. As coaches we try to unlock the potential inside each one of our kids. Ask really specific questions. Get to know them better, faster.
Safe Environment: Open up a new level of trust by the way you react to their weird or bizarre stories. Creating Best Friend Roles- Asking your kids to get to know everybody and partner up with new kids (not just for a week or two, but always).
Kids get stuck because they don’t know what God can do. The bigger we can make God seem, the more into it they’ll get. At the same time, you can make them see God is intimate to. It’s OK to say “I don’t know.” Help them process. It’s OK that God is bigger than “I don’t know” Sometimes we don’t have the answer, we just show up consistently and let them know that God is big enough to handle our anger, to handle our fears, our doubt. Safety is huge. Process is huge. Coaches are huge so that kids don’t get stuck. We help them figure out what to do with all the information about God that they are getting.
“If we want to keep them moving in a better direction… church cannot be the only place where a child experiences God… getting to know God and experience what He can do – is something that kids can intentionally do throughout the week.”
Model what we want to the kids to do with them. Read your Bible in front of them, pray with them, show them & tell them about the opportunities you had to help others this week and see God in action. Live out your faith in front of them.
Kids get stuck because they don’t know how to take the next step. Move them to what’s next. Sometimes we forget how long it takes to get to the next step, the transitions are so important. I can do something significant, I do have worth, I am able,…they start to believe it. Tell them “You can do this.” We need to help them, we need to prepare them, and help them successfully move to the next step. Our kids want to rise to the occasion, but we need to set them up to win. Setting up their expectations ahead of time. If you’re going to be out of town, tell them ahead of time that you won’t be there the next week and give them a heads up. Prepare them for the sub.
ORANGE TOUR 2015 – BREAKOUT NOTES
Lead Small- Move Them Out
Speaker: Joseph Sojourner, @jamsojourner
A small group leader is a person who can sit in a group week in and week out and be a consistent voice in their life. It’s a beautiful role. As a youth pastor, you know the idea of moving out and what’s it like to not want to loose the passion and energy as students move out from 5th grade, 8th grade, 12th grade. Move them to someone else. The wisest thing we can do as small group leaders is moving them (directing them) to other adult voices in their life.
Move them to be the church. It’s as simple as buying a friend a piece of pizza or asking a kid to hand out the goldfish. Put the task on the students to move to be the church. Go down to the homeless shelter to through a wkly pancake party for the people. Throw a senior prom for senior citizens. You can make a huge impact on the people who feel forgotten, feel like they don’t matter.
Move them to what’s next. What do you think you can’t do? Why do you think you can’t do it? “I think you can and I want to be a voice to help you navigate what’s next.” There is potential that lies within every student. No matter how large your program gets, every student is known in a small group, every student has a person that cares.
Every 12 students get 2 leaders (that would be awesome!!) What if we changed people’s views to help the people around you feel like you’re fighting for them, not against them. (Fight Club). Show students they are always welcome to walk back into our church, our lives, our homes, etc. Challenge students to move out, be the church, and love the students around them.
Fight Club: Fight for one, fight for all. Some battles you can’t fight alone, you need others. The fight FOR is much greater than the fight AGAINST. If we can fight for one, we really can fight for all. Club cards, give your membership card to someone else, by doing an act of kindness and give them a card to welcome them to the club; they are welcome any time.
The Orange Tour is coming to 14 cities this fall. Click here for more information.
VIDEO – ORANGE TOUR PREVIEW
VIDEO – WHAT IT’S LIKE TO ATTEND ORANGE ATLANTA
VIDEO – WHAT IS ORANGE?