Orange Tour Notes 2014 – 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 2015. 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.
OPENING SESSION: ORANGE TOUR – SAY ‘YES’ TO THE NEXT GENERATION
Speaker: Jon Acuff @JonAcuff
YES feels like a small word, but there is no such thing as a small YES to our big God. YES is a comma, it starts adventures. There is no period after YES
Things are always changing in ministry, you have to say YES to change, YES to bravery…
Not the movie version of bravery; the real stuff. Bravery feels like wanting to cry, wanting to throw up, not sleeping. Revival of fear is not failure. You have to be brave in the hard moments.
God, what you’ve given me is what I need to say YES to. God is not surprised or disappointed by the size of your ministry.
Sometimes it’s hard to find funny things to write about, and other times a woman sitting next to me brings a tambourine to church. At some point during the morning she thought, “This church is missing tambourine and I’m the person to bring it.:
You said YES to community. We care about kids, were not alone in that. You came to this space and said YES to community.
You said YES to the future. You believe that this child matters; you pour into them even if you don’t know if it’s sticking. People like YOU, love a child before they love themselves. You believe in them before they believe in themselves.
You said YES to being present, YES to being with kids, YES to all the things that you do, but ultimately YES to the next generation. THANK YOU for saying YES to Students, YES to children, YES to the next generation.
OPENING SESSION CONTINUED
Speaker: Reggie Joiner @ReggieJoiner
When you say YES to the next generation, you say YES to drama.
You can KNOW God
You can become a Christian in a MOMENT
The BIBLE is all true
TRUST leads to stronger faith
You should ENJOY going to church
Your BELIEFS matter
God has an IDEAL
GOD is good
It’s possible that how we handle those truths, it will affect the next generation. We have to think about how we hand off those truths to them.
It wasn’t because what we told kids wasn’t true, because it is… or that we didn’t teach them the gospel, because we did. What we do can give kids a concept of God that is bigger or smaller. If we’re not careful we can cause a child to have a shallow faith.
Sometimes in our zeal to fight for what is true, we don’t fight for the tensions that actually connect those truths to what is real.
When we take the tension out, we remove the energy, the influence, the power we’re supposed to have as leaders. Does mercy water down justice or vice-verse? No, it highlights it. The lack of tension diminishes the truth. Somehow along the way truth can loose it’s potency.
Sometimes a truth can lose clarity when it’s divorced from the reality of the other truths that amplify it.
Tension doesn’t make a truth less true, it makes it more real.
If you don’t say yes to the tension, kids will start thinking God is a lot smaller than he really is.
YES you can KNOW God AND YES God is a MYSTERY. Decide that God is bigger than your perspective.
YES you can become a Christian in a MOMENT… and YES it will take FOREVER to figure out what that means. At the end of the day, this is hard, it’s not a quick fix. God is bigger than your experience.
YES the BIBLE is all true… and YES everything true about LIFE is not in the Bible.
YES TRUST leads to stronger faith… and YES DOUBT can lead to stronger faith. If you don’t let your kids process their own doubt, they’ll never own their own faith. At the end of the day don’t worry if you’re kids express doubt, be worried if they don’t.
YES you should enjoy going to CHURCH… and YES you can enjoy living in the WORLD. I think God made the quarterback and God made the country singer. Don’t make things of the world the enemy. God is so much bigger than just your church.
YES your BELIEFS matter… and YES PEOPLE matter more. Take your cues from Jesus.
YES God has an IDEAL… and YES God uses BROKEN people. It’s not about us, it’s about God and what God can do through us.
YES GOD is good… and YES YOU should do good. At the end of the day, you are the best way that kids will learn how to do good. God is in YOU doing what you can’t do without Him. We don’t have an excuse not to do good in the world around us.
If you don’t say YES to the tension, kids could grow up to become “that” Christian.
Don’t be irresponsible.
Don’t get stuck.
Don’t be a jerk.
Don’t be weird.
Don’t be threatened.
Don’t be an idiot.
Don’t be shallow.
Don’t be arrogant.
ORANGE TOUR: SESSION TWO – SAY ‘YES’ TO CHANGE
Speaker: Carey Nieuwhof @cnieuwhof
Say YES to changing how you think about change. Anytime you hear the word change, you have an emotional reaction. As a leader, you think change is awesome, but to everyone else it’s awful.
We want to do everything we can to impact the next generation. Sometimes you have to sacrifice what is for the sake of what could be.
The greatest enemy to your future success is your current success.
Are you defeating what could end up being your transformation?
If you are really going to say YES to the next generation, you have to change your approach to change.
SESSION TWO CONTINUED
Speaker: Reggie Joiner @ReggieJoiner
When you say YES to the next generation, you say YES to messy.
As ministry leaders, you’re saving lives simply because you are doing life with them.
Say YES to the tension that exists between what is true and what is real if you want to have influence in the next generation.
We have to be intentional if we want to keep the momentum. You need to fight to get the tension that you need in your ministry.
Say YES to the tension that exists between what is core and what is dynamic if you want momentum in your ministry. It’s all connected to the great commission Jesus gave us. You will not be successful as a church simply because you have a mission. You will be successful because you have a strategy. You are driven by a mission but you succeed because of a strategy.
You are called to Pastor but you are required to lead. You should invest in insiders but you should prioritize for outsiders. You have to intentional about seeking out those on the outside.
What happens at church matters but what happens at home matters more. Effective ministries attract a crowd but effective ministries lead to community. Are you so wired to attract a crowd that you don’t know how to do community? Do you understand the power of a circle and the power of community?
You will never be able to out-produce what the culture produces. You can’t compete with that. But they can’t out-community you. They can’t create a safe place for a kid to show up and have a dialogue with someone who knows their name and knows them.
Teachers expand how you think but Coaches empower what you do. As long as you only teach in your church, your ministry will be limited to you. But when you coach and
empower leaders to take on a role in ministry, something fundamentally changes.
It’s just as important for you to lean into adults as it is for you to teach kids on a platform. You need to influence those who influence kids and teenagers (adults & parents).
The scope of your influence is determined by the success of your leaders. If you can help the small group leader and the parent, then you win. You all win. If you want every small group leader (SGL) and parent to win every week, then you have to coach them every week.
Think about how you can become a coach in the lives of the parents and SGL. Parents and SGL’s don’t need more content they need better cues.
Somewhere along the way, you need to think about there are not a lot of good things that happen monthly, they happen weekly. You can’t build relationships monthly. You can’t date monthly, it doesn’t work. You can’t disciple someone monthly.
3 Questions Coaches should answer every week to empower SGLs and parents:
What do they need to know?
Why do they need to know it?
When do they need to know it?
Less is more, it’s a matter of timing and relevance. It matters when it matters, it doesn’t matter if it’s true.
What if you take 2 hours of your week and you invest in parents and SGLs every week. Your mission is not to influence the next generation, it’s to influence those that influence the next generation. We have opportunity today because of social media to connect with parents and kids in ways we’ve never connected before. You have the ability with a couple hours a week to make some incredible investments in parents and small group leaders. You have to shift from being a teacher to being a coach.
If you want your ministry to grow you should surround yourself with voices that value what is dynamic as much as they value what is core. Surround yourself by people who are passionate enough to keep you on mission, but also willing to fight for tension.
When it comes to coaching, don’t just coach adult SGL and parents to do ministry, coach your teenagers to do ministry. Make sure there is a space and a place for teens. When they serve, they experience something they can’t experience any other way. You can tell a teen that they’re significant, but until you give them something significant to do, they won’t fully get it.
Check out the Lead Small app (free) to help you coach parents and small group leaders. (Note: this looks very promising. A great tool for small group leaders.)
ORANGE TOUR – SESSION THREE
Speaker: Reggie Joiner @ReggieJoiner
No one leaves the church because someone said the Bible isn’t true. It’s about the people and the way they are treated or not treated.
Blog to read: Jessica Misener. She started questioning and hit a wall in church, so she walked away from Christianity as a whole. There is something there we can discover about how we need to talk to people.
Don’t say what you believe in such a way that it forces those who can’t agree with you to feel like they have to reject who Jesus said He was. We have literally put our faith and trust in a very real man, Jesus who lived on this earth and died for us.
BIBLE: Your primary calling is not to teach kids the Bible, but to lead them into a growing relationship with Jesus. God showed up. It gave the people a context for who God was.
Shift from Christianity is just a set of rules, doctrine, but is a relationship with God and others.
Say YES to tension that exists between content and context if you want to be relevant in your message.
Truth helps someone believe AND application helps someone win.
All scripture is equally inspired, but it is not equally important.
We have a job to figure out what are the most important pieces to share.
All scripture is not equally applicable for every stage of life. What are the pieces that a preschooler needs to hear? etc.
Look at what Jesus did… he stepped onto the planet so they could see, touch, hear who He is.
There is nothing about the Bible that is irrelevant, but we are the stewards to determine how and when to share it.
Understanding theology helps you teach what is true AND understanding reality helps you translate what is true. Don’t let your theology become more important than the people you are trying to get to know and build relationship with. People matter! You need to know your audience.
SESSION THREE CONTINUED
Speakers: Reggie Joiner @ReggieJoiner and Kristen Ivy @Kristen_Ivy
The reality is that so many of us work with kids and teens that have a changing reality and it’s different than yours.
Preschoolers are like artists: They blend reality and imagination. Most preschoolers have probably learned more since breakfast than you & I have learned in the last month. They are so smart.
Children are like scientists: They want to learn how things work, but they are concrete thinkers. They are very literal. Where does Jesus sleep in my heart? When they ask why… what they really mean is how? They want to master one idea at a time.
Teenagers are like philosophers: They want to put the pieces together, see how the stories fit together. They discover that things don’t fit together really easily… they come to us with challenging questions.
Paul when he went to the gentile world, knew how to leverage what they knew in terms of a world view.
A well-crafted statement can make truth memorable AND a well-reasoned question can make truth real.
Questions create space. It can be a little scary and intimidating at times, but it’s good.
It lets someone process their faith and personalize it.
Fear that I need to be in control and not let God be in control. God will have influence in their life long after we’re out of their life. Questions allow us to make our faith our own.
Questions: Make it their answer, make faith a journey, and make God bigger than just your understanding
Principles build Understanding AND Stories build hope.
God’s Thoughts God’s Character
How to Live Life How to Love Life
Better presentations can amplify what matters AND deeper relationships can solidify what matters.
Too many times we neatly tie the bow and wrap up the presentation and we don’t leave a little tension for conversation in small group. Tension can create a SGL win.
What you say matters more when people know they really matter to you.
Fight harder for the church you’re in to give teens an opportunity to serve. Recruit leaders that will work with teens for an extended period of time. Get leaders that will be present in their life for a season in time beyond high school. Kids don’t run away from relationships.
Do we know what happens to kids after they leave our church? (Go to school) Are we building relationships that continue in life-long community?
When you decide your going to have history with them, it gives you a right to have future with them.
I will do for few what I can’t do for many. I will not let the ones I know become unknown to me.
Figure out how to stay engaged with them as the move into new stages of life. The 20-year-olds in your church probably need you as much now as they did when they were 10.
Engage with your small group at least through the first year of college.
What you do is the most important job on the planet. Thank you.
ORANGE TOUR SESSION – PARTNERING WITH PARENTS
Speaker: Mike Clear
Be careful what you think about when you think about the parents of your few. That mom, dad, grandparent, foster parent, step parent has been with that child for a long time… they have seen more, loved more, hoped more, cried more with that child than you ever will. Regardless of their issues, every parent deep down inside wants to be a better parent.
The reality is they (the parents) have far more influence in the life of that child than you do. They drive that child around, they feed that child, they tuck them in at night. Who is in the better position to have far more influence on that child?
Let’s say YOU are an exceptional small group leader and you meet every possible week that you have and you make the most of it and you go beyond that and follow your few up through elementary school and you keep in touch with them through the years and maybe even get an invite to their wedding one day. But at your best, your influence in the life of your few is temporary whereas parents it’s lifelong.
For the sake of the few that we work with, we can try to figure out how exactly we can partner with their parents. How can we nurture an authentic daily faith in the life of your few?
Partner with Parents… Parents are looking for answers, they are constantly looking and processing how to be a better parent.
At Orange we believe every parent wants to be a better parent. Even when they complain and they discard all the paper work before they leave your ministry area. Parents just don’t realize or begin to fathom the impact that they have on the spiritual life of their child. Parents tend to avoid subjects that are hard or controversial, faith and spiritual stuff Every parent wants to do something more.
Whether or not they do something more in the life of their child spiritually, is really up to you the small group leader. Even if they go to a spiritual parenting class, they walk away highly motivated, but not highly equipped. As a small group leader you have the opportunity to paint a picture for them of what they can do and what it can look like for their child. Your belief influences your character and your character characterizes your belief.
6 Ways to Partner with Parents in Kids Ministry
There is always a variety of things you’ll need to try and some will stick and some won’t, it’s a constantly changing thing. They are not set in stone.
1. Make an Initial Connection:
If you are asking parents to partner with you and be a part of your strategy, you need to have some sort of initial connection with them. Using the drop-off and pick-up time typcially does not happen every Sunday, working perfectly.
Another option for you is to leverage social media: Text, Email, Facebook message…. tell them a little more about who you are as their child’s small group leader. We want to help them win as a parent. (Define your role as SGL and give them a little information about who you are).
Do a back to school night (don’t call it that)… drop-in night for about 45 minutes. They get to meet the leader, see some of the other parents and kids in the group, get the leader’s contact info. Get to see how the leader engages the child, the parent, the family. Invite parents to bring their kids into your elementary environment. Ask parents what they think you should know about their child…favorite color, hobbies, interests, allergies, etc. Ask them tell you a story about their child that you need to know. It shows them that you really care about their child.
2. Give Them Access to You:
Sometimes we fear giving away all our contact information, but by giving it to them it gives the parent a sense of peace. They may not go to you when they need someone, but they know they could. You could make a business card for your leaders
Small Group Leader noun
1. one consistent person in the life a child.
2. (Write what it is to your church…2 or 3 things total)
3. (Write what it is to your church…2 or 3 things total)
Back side of card has info about the Parent Cue, Parent Cue App, 252 Basics website
FB and Social Media: If you are an idiot on Facebook and social media, parents will see this and pay attention to this. If you want to partner with parents, don’t be an idiot.
Clean up your social footprint!
3. Leverage Technology to Cue Parents Regularly:
Get the Lead Small App. You can send a group text to all the parents of your group regularly, doesn’t have to be every week. Let them know what is going on in your ministry…what are you talking about in your small group. Give them a 40,000 foot view of what you’re talking about so they can continue the conversation at home.
What if we could set parents up and cue parents to start with a deeper question than just what did you learn about today? Don’t give them the whole lesson, just
give them a little. Example: So I heard you learned about Jonah today, what did you learn about him? Or what did you learn about being a good friend today
Let them know what is going on in your group. Let them know if their child had a little tension with another child today. Or let them know if you weren’t able to finish a conversation with the group. Let them know some information that will help them… give them some resources (not necessarily church written info or something you’ve written), but something that is relavent to pop culture like a parenting/stage blog.
4. Show Up Where Parents Show Up:
Show up at church. Give them a “hi”, a smile, an encouragement. If there is a special event, make a point to stop by and talk to them. Make events with small group
leaders and kids a priority. These events are done for a reason to connect parents and leaders in the church. When you put parents and small group leaders in the same room to connect, some powerful things happen.
Show up outside church. Never underestimate the power of physical mail (a postcard is an amazing thing). The great thing about a postcard is as a parent you can read before they do and they don’t even know you did. A birthday card, an occasional letter to the parent (just want you to know I’m praying for you, etc.) If you are going to show up physically, just give them a heads up first so it eliminates the awkward moment.
5. Help Parents Find an Answer:
Give them a resource. Recommend a book (Parenting Beyond your capacity, etc.), a devotional, a blog, etc.
Give them an ally. There will be a time when they ask a question you don’t know the answer to (don’t try to be an expert when you’re not in that area…just let
them know you don’t know, but I am here for you and I want to walk alongside you and help you find the answer/walk through this.
Give them a support group. Know what your church and the church down the street offer (CR, DivorceCare, etc.)
6. Say Something Positive:
We live in a culture, where there is a lot of negativity, a lot of things that are going bad or poorly…say something positive to them. Say something positive to parents about their kid. You don’t know the whole story of that kid, that parent, they may only hear negative things about their child. Give them something positive.
Also say something to kids about their parents. It’s a way to partner with parents when they don’t even know you’re doing it. Did you know that some kids struggle
with authority? There will be times when the kids unload everything to you about how bad things are at home or with their parent; look for ways to honor the parent and say something positive about them.
Say something positive to parents about them. Sometimes parents need to hear something positive about themselves, and sometimes it will be hard to do (to the
parent that seems disengaged, etc.) Getting to church is a win. Sometime the most positive thing you can say to the parent is thank you for being here today, for bringing your child, it was great to connect with them, to talk about xyz.
There will be times when it is complicated, messy, hard,…keep saying we’re here for you, we want to help you win, when the time comes that they need someone to talk to you, when a tragedy happens, they will come to you. Don’t give up on your few, please don’t give up on the parents.
Thank you Cheryl Kneeland for sharing these excellent notes! Click here to follow her on Twitter.