Church Revitalization – Becoming A Community Center

The story of church revitalization at Northwest Church . . . how it became a community center with a church.

Most of us want our churches to go boldly into our communities. If that’s you, check out the incredible story of Northwest Church in the Seattle area.

Northwest is a 90+ year old church. It’s original location was zoned residential, so it could never grow. Decade after decade it would try, but the city would simply not allow Northwest to expand. In recent years it all came to a head . . . Northwest wanted church revitalization. Something had to happen.

Church leaders focused on prayer. They put out a fleece. They asked Jesus to clearly speak by August of that year if they were to relocate. If nothing happened, the church would continue to do its best in its historic location.

What happened next is incredible. Through an unlikely series of events, Northwest was able to sell its existing property and simultaneously buy a much larger one. It happened one week before the August deadline. The all-cash deal even allowed for enough money to fully revitalize the new building without incurring debt. The church stepped out in faith and God showed He is faithful.


Northwest’s story doesn’t end with real estate. It wanted not only revitalization of its building, but revitalization of its mission. God was directing Northwest to serve its new community. The church met its new neighbors and surveyed the needs of the neighborhood. They found a nearby senior living center, so they brought Christmas gifts to each resident. They heard that local police and firefighters needed a place to train, so Northwest opened the new building to them.

Dental clinic housed at Northwest Church

Dental clinic housed at Northwest Church

The community had many uninsured people in need of dental care, so it provided space to Puget Sound Christian Clinic. There is now a first class place for people to get quality dental care regardless of their financial status. Northwest designed its 45,000 square foot building to be a community center that happens to house a church.

Six days a week the building is Community Life Center. It’s alive with civic programs and services. On Sunday the building is Northwest Church. It’s an inspiring story of a church that thinks differently. It’s vision, faith and leadership that can be seen lived out every day.

Roll up doors welcome the community.

Church revitalization – roll up doors that welcome the community.

Church revitalization - a fountain welcomes the community and doubles as a place for baptisms.

Church revitalization – a lobby fountain and doubles as a place for baptisms.

The church auditorium doubles as a community basketball court and large meeting space.

Church revitalization – A auditorium that doubles as a community basketball court and large meeting space.




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Reaching The Next Generation – 6 Things Only A Senior Pastor Can Do

How senior pastors can help in reaching the next generation of church leaders.

Orange Blog Rob CizekThursday (10/13) registration opens for the Orange Conference 2017. For that one day only, tickets are the cheapest they’ll ever be. I’ve been to the Orange Conference several times and highly recommend it for Children’s, Student and Family Ministry pastors/team. I also recommend reThink Leadership (held at the same time) for senior pastors. I’ll be in Atlanta this year and hope to see you there!


Each of us is going to leave our church someday. Are you preparing to replace yourself? Are you investing in young people so they have opportunities to lead?

During this fall’s Orange Tour, Geoff Surratt is teaching senior pastors how best to support young leaders . . . by doing things only a senior pastor can do.

1. Act like a cheerleader.  Senior pastors help champion the NextGen ministries. What is important to the senior pastor gets done at the church.

2. Budget like a middle-schooler.  Senior pastors should fight for the next generation budget.

3. Swim in the kiddie pool. Senior pastors provide invaluable help when they show up in the NextGen environments. Two reasons . . . They experience what volunteers and kids experience and it shows high-level support for NextGen ministries.

4. Invite the kids to the adult table. Involve NextGen people in weekend services.

5. Monkey with the scoreboard. Change the metrics. Evaluate NextGen ministry by its impact on families. Are we seeing a change in families because of NextGen ministries? Are families in the community being helped? Are the stats in our county betting better because of us? How can we expand NextGen beyond Sunday’s? How are we partnering with parents Monday-Saturday?

6. Color it Orange. Weave family strategy into fabric of the church. Orange is a strategy not a curriculum.

Geoff Surratt

Geoff Surratt (courtesy of

The six points above apply directly to senior pastors. But what if you’re not a senior leader? Geoff has these recommendations:

> Lead up. Share stories. Make sure the senior pastor knows what life change is happening in ministry.


> Invite them in.  Bring the senior pastor in for the good stuff and the shorter stuff. Give the senior pastor an out after 10 minutes (“We love that you are here, but I know you have to go…)

> Connect the dots. Help your senior pastor see how NextGen ministry supports the efforts of the church’s vision and direction.

> Senior pastors need pictures. Provide photos/videos that your senior pastor can show during services or in social media.

Finally, Geoff had some great quotes in his Orange Tour session:

Millennials are looking for a place to LEAD, not just be part. – @GeoffSurratt

I’m 54. The 8 year old girl at my church is more important because she is going to be around a lot longer. – @GeoffSurratt

Where your non-operating budget dollars go is what’s important int to your church. @GeoffSurratt

If you want to know what someone’s priorities are, look at their bank statement. @GeoffSurratt

What’s important to the senior pastor is what gets done at the church. (Choose to champion important things). – @GeoffSurratt

You can get more great leadership wisdom from Geoff at

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Catalyst Atlanta 2016 – Notes & Top Leadership Quotes

Notes and summary of the top leadership quotes from the Catalyst Atlanta 2016 conference.

Catalyst Conference 2016Each year, thousands of young adults gather in Atlanta for Catalyst, a conference for up-and-coming leaders.

I was pleased to have to opportunity to live blog this year’s conference. Below is a summary of the quotes and notes I took during each session.






Organizational health always results in sustained impact. This is not the case with platform leaders. – @AndyStanley

Healthy people are attracted to healthy organizations. – @AndyStanley

In a healthy organization every person should feel they have a critical role. – @AndyStanley

You begin becoming a great leader right now, where you are. – @AndyStanley

Everybody knows what they are doing, do they know what you are doing? – @AndyStanley

andy-stanley-catalsytatlIf “me” isn’t connected to “we”, there will be sideways energy and we will lose focus – @AndyStanley

When everyone knows what we are doing, most decisions are premade. – @AndyStanley

The only way to know who the good decision-makers are in your organization, is to let other people make decisions. – @AndyStanley

If the “what” is fuzzy, you will be called to make decisions you shouldn’t have to. – @AndyStanley

The process of answering questions is more important that the product. – @AndyStanley

(At our church) you can belong before you believe. – @AndyStanley

Everybody lives forever somewhere. – @AndyStanley

Answer the questions “what” and “why” and “where do I fit in?”. – @AndyStanley

Following Jesus will make you better and make you better at life. – @AndyStanley

Memorable is portable. – @AndyStanley

How does what I do contribute to what WE do? Each team member needs to know this. This is the responsibility you carry, not the job you do. – @AndyStanley

Develop a one sentence responsibility descriptions for you direct reports. ‘If all else fails, here is the one thing I will hold you responsible for.’ – @AndyStanley

Everyone who works for you should know what you think they are responsible for. – @AndyStanley 




Rachel Cruze is a personal finance specialist and the daughter of Dave Ramsey.

rachel-cruze-catalyst-atlQuit the comparisons. Don’t let the way others live affect how we live our lives and spend our money. – @RachelCruze

If we quite comparing ourselves to others, we can cheer for them and support them.@RachelCruze

Gratitude leads to contentment. Have a running gratitude list. – @RachelCruze

When we have debt it’s difficult to be generous. – @RachelCruze

Where there is no margin there is no ministry. – @RachelCruze

What could the people of God do for God if we didn’t have debt? – @RachelCruze

Talk about money and money issues… to your spouse, to your kids. – @RachelCruze

What’s the legacy you are going to pass? Debt or financial freedom? – @RachelCruz



Simon Sinek is a noted author and thought leader.

In my job I talk about trust and cooperation. There should be no call for this kind of work. – @SimonSinek

Leadership is not about being in charge, but about those in your charge. – @SimonSinek

Giving money is not a sacrifice. You can make more. Sacrifice is something you will never get back. – SimonSinek

Leadership means you give away all the credit and accept all of the blame. – @SimonSinek

You don’t a job you love. You fight everyday to stay in love with it. – @SimonSinek

We all can be leaders. But not very one wants to nor should they. Leadership is about sacrifice. – @SimonSinek

Empathy means considering the human being, not just their performance. – @SimonSinek

simon-sinek-catalyst-atlTake care of the people (employees) and they will take care of the customer. – @SimonSinek

Leaders can look for employees doing something right… or employees doing something wrong. – @SimonSinek

Are you obsessed with beating the competition or with your mission? – @SimonSinek

“My door is always open” assumes employees are willing to walk through it. – @SimonSinek

At dinner there should be zero phones on the table. It’s the only way to make the people you’re eating with feel valued. – @SimonSinek

Our current work environment is filled with the hangovers from the bad ideas of the 80s and 90s. – @SimonSinek

When you destroy the human spirit you destroy your company. – @SimonSinek

Show young employees to enjoy the work journey and they’ll give you 20-30 happy years. – @SimonSinek

Let us error on the side of empathy. – @SimonSinek

Other people will serve you the way you serve them. – @SimonSinek

The goal isn’t to always win but to outlast. – @SimonSinek

We have an entire section in the book store about Self Help. There is no section called ‘Help Others’. – @SimonSine

Practiced empathy results in a changed spirit. – @SimonSinek




Brian is co-founder of Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia

brian-houston-catalyst-atlSuccess: If I can live my life that sets up a platform that enables the next generation to win.- @BrianCHouston

I get so inspired when I see young people start to flourish. – @BrianCHouston

The hope of the church is not in the past, but in the future. @BrianCHouston

We should listen to the fathers. Every church needs some silver hair. But we need to keep taking things forward. And I’m 62. – @BrianCHouston

We hold on (to our position) because we are fearful. But we don’t have to (be fearful) if we keep looking up. @BrianCHouston

A lot people like safe, comfortable and in control. (But this is not the life Jesus & the disciples lived.) @BrianCHouston

The predictable is not where the answer is. – @BrianCHouston

Predictability is what keeps the church from moving forward. – @BrianCHouston

When it comes to loyality and credibility, predictability is your friend. – @BrianCHouston

Dogma, in a way separates, is not the way forward. – @BrianCHouston

There are times when predictability is the enemy. Like spontaneity. Spontaneity is our friend in the church. – @BrianCHouston

I’d rather be an artist than an art critic. I’d rather be a church builder than a church critic. – BrianCHouston

Creativity is about what’s not yet done. – @BrianCHouston

You never get influence from doing things the way they have always been done. – @BrianCHouston

The devil doesn’t worry about big churches. He worries about creative churches. – @BrianCHouston

Text books are built on what is already known – @BrianCHoustonBooks should be our servant not our master. – @BrianCHouston

Experience is overrated. (It focuses )on what has already been done. @BrianCHouston

The smaller family you come from, the more important it is to expand your world view.- @BrianCHouston

My advice to young people is to stand out. Don’t just be the same… be the same… be the same. – @BrianCHouston

Our heritage should be our servant, not our master. – @BrianCHouston

We live in a world where there are so many people we can learn from. But we can get down in predictability and doing things the same way. – @BrianCHouston

I want to honor history but I don’t want to be bound by history. – @BrianCHouston

You are alive at a great time. @BrianCHouston

Worship unifies. – @BrianCHouston

God has called you to make history, not just study history. – @BrianCHouston

You can live a life that defies history. – @BrianCHouston



judah-smith-andy-stanley-catalyst-atlJesus wasn’t excluding the Pharisees, he was simply including people that weren’t normally included. – @judahsmith

The number one characteristic of following Jesus is compassion. – @judahsmith

Travis Boersma (@YoDutchBros) is head of Dutch Brothers Coffee. The company culture reflects “Uncommon Fellowship”

Know your specific outcome, ask if it is working, change it until it does (work). – @YoDutchBros

Focused intensity, multiplied over time by God, equals success. – Dave Ramsey via @YoDutchBros

Love all. Serve all. (Core values of Dutch Brothers Coffee) – @YoDutchBros

dscf1596We are in the relationship business and the product is love. Customers come for the coffee and come back for the people. – @YoDutchBros

You never get a second chance to make a great first impression. – @YoDutchBros

Mentoring is “walk with me, hang with me, learn through real life experience.’ – @YoDutchBros

The better quality of questions you ask, the better quality of life you can lead. @YoDutchBros

A lot of people are taught to say NO. Our company culture is to say YES. – @YoDutchBros

Focus on being the best version of yourself. Ask, “How close am I?” – @YoDutchBros

True happiness lies in striving for you full potential. – @YoDutchBros

(I want) my cup to be so full that I’m spilling into others. – @YoDutchBros



Father Edwin Leahy is headmaster St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, NJ. He has appeared on 60 Minutes to share how his school serves a changing and diverse neighborhood.

dscf1623The best part of being a monk is that we fall down, we get up. We fall down, we get up. – @FrEdwinLeahy

Adults should not do anything for kids that kids are capable of doing for themselves. – @FrEdwinLeahy

They ask me, “When will I retire.” I say, “Tonight at 9pm.” – @FrEdwinLeahy (on not hanging it up too soon).

CRITICISM: ‘You run Catholic schools for kids who aren’t Catholic.’ Father Leahy, “Yea, that’s why we do it!” – @FrEdwinLeahy

Give up what YOU WANT for what WE NEED. – @FrEdwinLeah

Keep death before your eyes every day because it changes how you live. – @FrEdwinLeah




Craig Groeschel is pastor of Life Church in Oklahoma City with 25 campuses.

I wonder how often it grieves the heart of God that we as Christians take shots at each other. – @CraigGroeschel

We have one enemy – Satan. Other believers are not the enemy. – @CraigGroeschel

We desperately need each other. I don’t care how awesome your church is, you cannot do it alone. – @CraigGroeschel

Unity is not uniformity. We have strength in our diversity. – @CraigGroeschel

God’s people should lead the way with irrational generosity.

If we all look alike and act alike we can only reach the same people. – @CraigGroeschel

Every single one of us needs the rest of us. @CraigGroeschel

Error on the side of being for other Jesus followers, no against. @CraigGroeschel

Believe the best of other Jesus followers rather than the worst. – @CraigGroeschel

Build on what you are for, not on what you are against. – @CraigGroeschel

dscf1478It could be that if God is not blessing us, it’s because we don’t have the right stance towards others.

We give everything we can to strengthen others. What do I have that God can use? – @CraigGroeschel – @CraigGroeschel

We can do infinitely more together than we can apart. – @CraigGroeschel

Take what you have, make it available to God’s people… and watch unity develop. – @CraigGroeschel

We error on the side of being for and not against. – @CraigGroeschel

We love like Jesus loved. – @CraigGroeschel

Our mission is too important. Our time is to short to take shots at each other. @CraigGroeschel

Our world is sick of HEARING about the love of Jesus. They want to SEE the love of Jesus. – @CraigGroeschel

We can do a little in a lot of places. We can do a lot in one place. – @CraigGroeschel




There’s a difference between being authentic and being vulnerable. – @TylerReagin

It was so fun. I never want to do it again. (On renovating a house.) – @JenHatmake

Let’s re-engage. Let’s get to know our street. – @JenHatmaker

We decided to treat neighbors like people, not projects. – @JenHatmaker

ball-catalyst-atlIt’s easier and neater to hide behind theology (than to engage people). – @JenHatmaker

We (Christians) are so set apart that we have no voice anymore. – @JenHatmaker

(We should) spend less time defending our rights and more time lifting up Jesus. – @JenHatmaker

I need to love mercy for THEM as much as I love mercy for MYSELF. – @JenHatmaker

Getting out there changes you. Some things you just have to feel. – @BrandonHatmaker

Go be a friend. Ask more about them than talking about you. – @BrandonHatmaker

We earn a hearing with people over time. – @JenHatmaker

If we are strategic about being a good friend, the Gospel will naturally go there. – @BrandonHatmaker

We (Christians) are so incredibly polarized over minor issues. We need to find what we are unified in. Be Bridge-builders and peacemakers. – @BrandonHatmaker




Mike Foster heads People of the Second Chance, which helps people recover from serious challenges and find Jesus.

worship-catalyst-atlI’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies; I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved. – Romans 9:25

We are not defined by our brokenness. We are defined by God’s radical love.

Let Him love you in your worst moments. That is the path to freedom..

We look at people’s strengths and gifts. We don’t look at their brokenness.

People should not (suffer) alone. Our church pews should be ‘friendship benches’ (so nobody has to be alone.)

I want to be a grace flavored snow cone on a hot judgmental day.

Call people out on their belovedness and remind them of who they are.

What if we started throwing parties for people who really need a party?



Andy’s main point: Early Christian fellowship included all kinds of diverse people. Unity of believers is a testimony to the world that Jesus is God.

andy-stanley-catalsytatlUncommon Fellowship: Head-turning, jaw-dropping, never-would’ve-seen-those-people-together association.

People who were nothing like Jesus liked Jesus and Jesus liked them back

If they don’t get the oneness thing right, the world will miss Me. (Unity among Christian is testimony that Jesus is God.)

Disunity disrupts the mission.

Unselfish love fuels uncommon fellowship.

Mutual submission is the most powerful relational dynamic in the world.

Everybody wants to be in a community where there is care for one another.

Uncommon is uncomfortable.

Oneness must win the day. (Unity is preeminent.)

Immorality in the church disrupts unity.

Will we place unity above our particular view of Christianity?

Jesus gave His life so that we could experience the most uncommon fellowship of all… fellowship with the Father.

If your theology separates you from sinners like you, you may have some work to do.

We can’t all be right. But we can all be one. Jesus did not pray for our rightness. He prayed for our oneness.

Click here for more notes from @BrianKDodd.







Great teams have the following traits:

#1. The mission is more important than me. Mike Collins flew on the Apollo mission that first put two people on the moon. He stayed in orbit around the moon to support those walking on the surface. He put mission above himself. Help people see how what they do contributes to mission… something bigger than themselves.

A. Start with “why.” Keep the “why we do what we do” out front year after year. Without a target, no sport makes sense.

B. Reliance on each other. Relinquish control to rely on others.

C. Peer accountability. Everyone expects the boss to hold you accountable . . . but everyone needs peer accountability. Peer input can carry more influence. If you are the boss, give employees the permission to call you out if you do things differently from what we have agreed to.

#2. Choose to trust: When there is a gap in information, we can either choose to trust or to get suspicious. Great teams choose to trust until all the information is known.  Choosing to trust creates a better option than getting mad.  Trust is foundational to great teams . (5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.

#3. Clear lines of communication. If there is no gap in information, there is no need to choose between trust and suspicion. Create clear vision and communicate it well. Systems of communication are your friends.

#4. Strong teams have game changing cultures. These cultures are fun, they serve and they create belonging. Some ideas for team fun: Have a ten minute relay race in the office. Go get ice cream. Get a ping pong table. Play corn hole. Get a message chair.

#5. Work-Life Balance. Have good boundaries. Guardrails are there to keep you on the road.

#6. Unified teams embrace conflict. Leadership is what we allow to happen within the team. Understand the person you are dealing with and embrace the conflict in a constructive wa they understand.

#7. Healthy teams prune. They cut, they change, they evaluate. Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud is an excellent resource.

Call to action: Pick one of these six and improve it in the next week.


tyler-reagin-catalyst-atlThere is a confidence in calling that is not arrogance.

Culture does not produce immediate ROI (return on investment). – Developing organizational culture is a long term process.

Reputation equals influence.

Without a target, no sport makes sense.

The boundary of a landscape is not the limiting factor for a creative. Lack of vision is

Right Path is a great self assessment tool for team building.

The #1 deathbed regret: “I was never myself.” Be who you uniquely are, not an imitation of someone else.

Leadership isn’t just what we DO, but what we ALLOW to happen on the team.

Give responsibility AND authority to build trust with people.




brad-lomenick-catalyst-atlGive your emerging leaders freedom to pursue projects. It’s now a free agent marketplace.

Engagement is what should be measured.

Meetings give us a sense that we are doing something. Don’t meet. Just go do something instead.

There is a power shift towards the niche.

Coach young leaders. Don’t manage them.

(Young leaders) are more attracted to intimate gatherings than big events.

Young leaders won’t wait for hierarchy to move out of the way. They will start something anyway.

We lead like we were lead. (Understand this a leave room for change.)

We used to feel a 10 year generation gap. It’s now a 4 yer generation gap.

The higher we go as a leader,the more we tend to fake it.

The best assimilation strategy is simply to ask “What’s your name?” or “How can I help you?”

The greatest felt need of the emerging generation is the question of “why?”

Young people want their leaders to aggregate, curate and coach.





When you open the door to Jesus, you open the door to wherever He takes you.

Empathy doesn’t water down the truth, empty amplifies the truth.

Press pause long enough to understand what is really going on.

To have empathy: pause to imagine and interact.

reggie-joiner-catalyst-atlIf you want to have influence as a leader, you have to change how you think about people. Have empathy.

3 ways to have influence: power, authority or because you earned it.

If you want yo have influence as a leader, you have to change how you think about influence.

When you establish a habit of showing up for others, it may change you more than it does them.

Your best chance to have influence in someone’s life is to actually show up.

All of you are (where you are today) because someone showed up for you. Uncommon people showed up in your life at the right time.

Before you can influence someone they need to know they matter to you.

If your theology isn’t changing the way you treat people, it’s not good theology.

Maybe before we tell people how to build a church, we should build one ourselves.

Before you can influence someone they need to know they matter to you.



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Photos courtesy of Catalyst and the good folks at SEE SPARK GO.

Top Leadership Quotes From The reThink Leadership & Orange Conferences

Top leadership quotes from the #RL16 reThink Leadership and #OC16 Orange Conferences.

Orange Blog Rob CizekEach year 8,000 family ministry leaders gather in Atlanta for the national Orange Conference. Another 500 senior pastors meet at the same time for reThink Leadership. They connect with each other and the latest thinking in church leadership. Here are the top quotes, taken from sessions at both 2016 conferences:



OC16_Insta2Monday is coming and everyone will be watching. (Will Sunday church experience help people with their week?) – @JonAcuff

Jesus was Jesus all week long, not just on Sunday. – @JonAcuff

We don’t have a Sunday savior, we have an everyday Immanuel. – @JonAcuff

On Sunday grace is expected, on Monday it is a surprise. – @JonAcuff

Do you have a circle of friends that you will text things to that you would never (broadly) tweet about? – @JonAcuff

The enemy wants us to get caught up in discussions about what counts and doesn’t count. – @JonAcuff

Jon Acuff reThink Leadership Sketchnote

Double click to see large version of sketchnotes.

Even ‘Friends’ had to end. – @JonAcuff

Ask, “How do we get to more for them on Monday?” (Instead of “How we get more of them on Sunday?”) – @JonAcuff

The NFL realized they couldn’t just exist on Sunday and reach its full potential. – @JonAcuff

We can’t just teach them what to believe on Sunday… we’ve got to challenge them to serve on Monday. – @DougFields

What if we changed our emphasis from ‘eternal life when you die’… to ‘Kingdom life while we are alive?’ – @DougFields

doug fields sketchnoteWhat a kid does affects what a kid believes. @ReggieJoiner via @DougFields

When you engage non-Christian teenagers into service, you ignite something in them. – @DougFields

What if we called our students ‘ministers’ rather than ‘graduates’? – @DougFields

What if we changed our language and painted a verbal picture of what could be? – @DougFields

What if we encouraged kids to see their sports team as a mission field (rather than shaming them for missing church)? – @DougFields

We count people because we’re too lazy to figure out something more effective. Attendance numbers are like crack to an addict. – @DougFields

What if we changed the yard stick from sitting to serving. (Measure service, not attendance.) – @DougFields

We can just teach them to attend on Sunday, but to serve on Monday. – @DougFields

A hurt child has never run into the house and cried for dad. Dads don’t care. Funny from – @DougFields

frank bealer sketchnoteWhat if it’s not something wrong with them (our boss) giving us support? What if we improved the way we lead up? – Frank Bealer

Lead up better by being: ready, brief, smart/prepared, passionate and flexible.  – Frank Bealer

Your boss expects you to be the expert. That’s why you were hired. – Frank Bealer

Know the questions and objections you may encounter before you go into a meeting. – Frank Bealer

Passion can be refreshing… or overwhelming. – Frank Bealer


Lead up better by being: ready, brief, smart/prepared, passionate and flexible.  – Frank Bealer

What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail? – Ryan Leak

Criticism can make you bitter… or criticism can make you better. – Ryan Leak

Don’t make the mistake of thinking one person’s opinion is everyone’s opinion. – Ryan Leak

Criticism is important to your growth as a leader. – Ryan Leak

Have someone in your life that can help you determine if criticism valid. – Ryan Leak

Mute some people in your life. Who/what do you need to turn down in you life? Turn up? – Ryan Leak

virginia ward sketchnoteWe can live our lives as great big ‘thank you’ notes to God. – @VAwardWOW

If you could distill the main message of most sermons it would be: “Try harder.” – @VAwardWOW

We have to press through the awakardness to get to the real. – @VAwardWOW

Young people are walking in a more diverse environment at school than they are at church. – @VAwardWOW

Jesus is bigger than any mistake. Make this your mantra. – @KpowellFYI

How we are are loved will always impact how you live. How you live will never change how you are loved. – @KPowellFYI

beach ballsYoung people today are running towards, not away, from a Gospel that requires difficult things. – @KPowellFYI

If I don’t see me (someone of my ethnic background) on the stage, the event is not for me. – TD Jakes via @ReggieJoiner

We should number our days. We should pay attention to the time we are given. – @pwilson

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. – @pwilson

There are worse things than failure. – @pwilson

Push yourself beyond the “OK Plateau.” Without challenges and failures we won’t grow. – @pwilson

pete wilson sketchnoteRegret stings more than failure. – @pwilson

Expect difficulties. – @pwilson

Just because you are obedient to God doesn’t mean you won’t have difficulties. – @pwilson

The bigger the dream the bigger the fight. – @pwilson

The bigger fights are the inner fights (within yourself). – @pwilson

Both courage and fear are contagious. – @pwilson

God has plan for your life. But so does everyone else. – @pwilson

At some point you have to decide what voice you are going to listen to. – @pwilson

orange wrapAct on belief instead of doubt. – @pwilson

Don’t be so focused on the gift that you miss the giver. – @pwilson

Make sure that you want more of God, not what God might give you. – @pwilson

You’re God. I’m not. – @pwilson

I can even when you can’t. – God via @pwilson

We can cast a shadow with our leadership that doesn’t allow others to grow. – @ReggieJoiner

You are leading something. It’s responsibility to lead it well. – @ReggieJoiner

Do you have big ambition for yourself or desire for the success of the people on your team? – @ReggieJoiner

Who do you serve? Answer this question to best know how to lead. – @ReggieJoiner

reggie pointingLove is an action word, not a felling. – @CABachelder

Listen carefully. Learn continually. – @CABachelder

Encouragement is a success factor that is right up there with skill set. – @CABachelder

Redirect people to better performance. – @CABachelder

You don’t forget to ask for a pay raise for yourself. Do you forget to ask for raises for those you lead? – @CABachelder

It’s a competitive advantage to put others first. – @CABachelder

What we count communicates what counts to us. – Tom Shefchunas

Attendance doesn’t tell us if people are actually growing. – Tom Shefchunas

Instead of focusing on attendance, focus on active role… those who are active in ministry. – Tom Shefchunas

How does a child/student get on- or off- your roll? At what point do they cross from ‘not our problem’ to our stewardship?  – Tom Shefchunas

You should let statistics bother you.. so long as they lead you to the ‘who’. – Tom Shefchunas

jim mellado sketchnoteWhat is our existing (workplace) culture? What do we want it to be? – @JimMellado

We want everyone to behave like they want to be here. – @JimMellado

We all say we’re 100% for each other. We don’t behave that way. – @JimMellado

Be really careful with the ‘Reply All’ button. – @JimMellado

Let others in (to your life, your plans.) – @JimMellado

Are you willing to risk your reputation on the performance of your team members? – @JimMellado



Treat people the way you want to be treated‘ and ‘Fear not‘ pretty much covers it all. – @AndyStanley

The church didn’t save me from hell. It saved me from me. – @AndyStanley

The church saved my life. (It prevents a lot of pain in people’s lives.) – @AndyStanley

The church informed my conscious and instilled a sense of purpose. (This is what we give the people we lead.) – @AndyStanley

andy stanley sketch noteYou were created for a purpose… on purpose. – @AndyStanley

Church provided the context for life long friendships. Without the church I wouldn’t have my best friends. – @AndyStanley

Don’t attend a church that teaches your children to hate church. – @AndyStanley

How is it that people with less stuff have more joy? – @AndyStanley

We are acceptance magnets. We gravitate towards acceptance. – @AndyStanley

Rich people aren’t generous. Generous people are generous. – @AndyStanley

Following Jesus will make your life better and make you better at life. – @AndyStanley

serious talkThe message of Christianity is the message culture wants to hang on. (It provides the unpinnings of society.) – @AndyStanley

All of the values of society are Christian. Jesus let them loose in the world. The Church is the steward of this teaching. – @AndyStanley

The role government is not to inspire but to protect us from the worst things. – @AndyStanley

Public education has become a value-free zone. – @AndyStanley

The one thing that can change everything in six months is ‘Love you neighbor as yourself.’  – @AndyStanley

Every weekend you show up (to church) you are saving people through the preventative nature of the Gospel. – @AndyStanley

We are stewards of how people perceive the local church and how they perceive faith. – @AndyStanley

Outside of your family, the greatest investment you will make is in the local church. – @AndyStanley

jon acuff yanni shirt audienceEveryone who has accomplished nothing has a video course. – Funny from @JonAcuff

We have enough ideas in the world. We need handles to carry them forward. – @JonAcuf

A lot of humor is admitting to what everyone already thinks and building on it. – @JonAcuff

Satire takes a small issue and makes it big enough for us all to see it. – @JonAcuf

The most important thing you can bring to any team is a healthy you. – @JimMellado

Hell is not just a destination. It can be a diagnosis of where your soul is today. – @JimMellado

A rotten soul never stays to itself. – @JimMellado

reading thinkingDo people want to be around you because of the quality of your soul? – @JimMellado

Your spirit is what makes you uniquely you. – @JimMellado

Our body is like a little kingdom that God has given us. It’s the part of the world that we can actually master. – @JimMellado

Habits eat willpower for breakfast. – @JohnOrtberg via @JimMellado

Life and leadership alone (by ourselves) are impossible. – @JimMellado

Before you work on your team skills, work on your soul. – @JimMellado

When you share a fresh idea, craft is being able to build on it. (There can be more than one punch line in a good story.) – @JonAcuff

selfie funNo suprises. No leader wants to be surprised. – @HeatherJLarson

Influence matters far more than position. – @HeatherJLarson

Never tell God ‘you’re never going to‘ anything. (He will show you otherwise…) – @JeffHenderson

Nobody wants to work with a ‘yes’ person.  – @HeatherJLarson

Be true to who God has created you to be. – @HeatherJLarson

We are better together than one person on their own. – @HeatherJLarson

Lead well. Love well. (her daily mantra)  – @HeatherJLarson

Leadership is not touch football. It’s tackle football. – @BillHybles via @HeatherJLarson

The very best leader I can be is the one God created me to be. (My style is different than others style). – @HeatherJLarso

paintingWhy do we work? Why do we lead? If you ask people, most can’t say. – @CABachelder

Where are you taking the people who are entrusted to your care? – @CABachelder

How do you think about the people you lead? – @CABachelder

How do I measure my leadership? – @CABachelder

Choose to lead people to a daring destination. – @CABachelder

Choose to love the people we lead. – @CABachelder

Deliver results. (No one will listen to you if you don’t perform.) – @CABachelder

media computerIf you dare and you serve, you will create the conditions where people can perform their best. – @CABachelder

Expect trials. Your convictions come from trials, not successes. – @CABachelder

Declare that talking badly about your team is not allowed. – @CABachelder

High trust is a brand distinctive. It’s our secret sauce. – @CABachelder

Trust is a competitive advantage. – @CABachelder

Look for people who share your values and ask them to come along side. – @CABachelder

Trust is the foundation of everything. – @CABachelder

Investing into an economic downturn results in market share (because everyone else flees). – @CABachelder

Alignment is a powerful thing. – @CABachelder

Pete WilsonYour church culture is either helping your people or working against them. – @pwilson

If you don’t define your church culture it will get hijacked.  – @pwilson

Healthy church culture leads to making better hires. – @pwilson

All of your dysfunction as a leader will trickle down through the organization. – @pwilson

Create a staff value to combat a dysfunction in your leadership.  – @pwilson

Staff values need to be sticky. Make them memorable by adding icons. Make them visible in every staff environment (values leak). – @pwilson

Regret stinks more than failure. – @pwilson

Inside every leader there is belief and doubt. Which do you choose to act on? – @pwilso

Learn how to be a healthy leader now… not on the backside of burnout. – @pwilson

unspecifiedClimate dictates the forecast. (True of weather and relationships.) – @JeffHenderson

The climate of a leader dictates the forecast for the team. The leader sets the thermostat in the room. – @JeffHenderson

What is your emotional climate as a leader? – @JeffHenderson

The climate of the leader stays in the room (even after they leave.) – @JeffHenderson

If you lead out of fear you are abusing the leadership role. – @JeffHenderson

God has never spoken audibly to me. God speaks louder than that. – @JeffHenderson

A leader who leads out of fear is leading out of insecurity. – @JeffHenderson

What’s it like to be on the other side of me? Ask a staff member, spouse & God this week. The answers will encourage, surprise and hurt. – @JeffHenderso

lobbyEarly on I was the leaders I wanted to be. But the load of leadership can decay us. – @BradLomenick

Sometimes as leaders, what’s being seen publicly is not what’s going on privately. – @BradLomenick

As a leader, how are you really? Mentally, spiritually, emotionally, financially, physically? – @cnieuwhof

Leaders take care of yourself. Your church can always get a new pastor. Your spouse shouldn’t have to get a new partner. – @cnieuwhof

God’s going to build his church, but you’ll forfeit your role in it if you burn out. – @cnieuwhof

breakout crowdThe goal of leadership is not to survive, but to thrive (to be more alive in Christ with each passing year.) – @cnieuwhof

Ministry is a series of un-grieved losses. (Deal with this – it’s unhealthy) – @cnieuwhof

Faced with significant disappointments, leaders often embrace 1 of 4 options: quit, morally fail, stay too long or thrive. – @cnieuwhof

See life for what it really is, but keep your heart fully engaged. – @cnieuwhof

Are you living in a way today that will let you thrive tomorrow? – @cnieuwhof



monday coming acuffLeaders watch what you say. Off hand advice can grow over time to become practices and rules. – @JonAcuff

You don’t have to work at getting misaligned. It happens naturally over time. – @ReggieJoiner

You can’t get your team on the same page if you’re never in the same room together. – @ReggieJoiner

To develop strategy ask: 1. What do we want someone to become? 2. What is the optimal environment for their life change? – @ReggieJoiner

It’s not your vision that determines your success. It’s your strategy. – @ReggieJoiner

A strategy is a plan of action with an end in mind. – @ReggieJoiner

leading worshipYou have enough vision. You have a strategy crisis – @cnieuwhof

Most leaders can cast vision but few have a clear strategy. – @cnieuwhof

Strategy initially divides. but ultimately unites, every congregation. – @cnieuwhof

Strategy is bigger than vision & ultimately determines where you end up. – @cnieuwhof

Mission & vision determine intention, but strategy determines direction. – @AndyStanley via @cnieuwof

What’s your strategy? What are you doing about it? – @cnieuwhof

stage with ballsOrganizational change will move from the center out. – @LeonceCrump

Vision is taught. Culture is felt. – @LeonceCrump

Every person wants consistency in their leaders more than anything. – @LeonceCrum

Do you know who you are and consistently communicate that? – @LeonceCrump

Ignore the wrong people and invite the right people. – @LeonceCrump

Strategy forces you to acknowledge limitations. – @JonAcuff

In God’s Kingdom, one or two are as important as one- or two- hundred. – @BradLomenick

lighter appThe people closest to me were getting the worst of me. (A warning sign for leaders). – @BradLomenick

Who we are: Identity, Calling & Assignment. Most of us get calling and identity confused. – @BradLomenick

Hand-off as much as possible. Everyone should think, “How can I replace myself.” – @BradLomenick

Your best expression of your leadership is what happens when you leave. – @BradLomenick

Model handing off or responsibility. – @BradLomenick

teachingLeadership going forward is not about position. It is about coaching… creating a culture where the highest level of achievement can take place. – @BradLomenick

Midlife crisis… when people figure out their calling at age 40 and can’t do anything about it. – @BradLomenick

You’ll attract rock stars if they feel they will be empowered on your team. – @BradLomenick

Right or wrong… The reality is A-list players today see a job as a season of assignment on the way to greatness. – @BradLomenick

Balance, rhythm, margin & spiritual discipline allow me to be healthy. – @BradLomenick

Build platforms that other people can stand on. – @BradLomenick

exterior buildingA warning to leaders: Once you taste a little influence it is intoxicating. (Counter by building into others.) – @BradLomenick

Almost nobody will tell you the truth if you pay them. Find people who will tell you the truth. – @BradLomenick

The best way to find a new gig is to kick yourself out of the the gig you just crusted. Keep moving up & to the right. – @BradLomenick

As leaders, the reason we have jobs is because of uncertainty. – @AndyStanley via @BradLomenick

The best way to succeed: “Long obedience in the same direction.” – @EugenePeterson via @BradLomenick

The best way to find a new gig is to kick yourself out of the gig you just crushed. Keep moving up & to the right. – @BradLomenick

planning worksheetThe new generation wants transparency in leadership, collaboration, mission, authenticity & messiness their church – @GeoffSurratt

Communicate the ‘why’ behind the need. – @JoshGagnon

Have seasons where you DON’T run 100MPH… so that you have seasons where you CAN run 100MPH. – @JoshGagnon

While Jesus is changing hearts around you, make sure He’s working on yours as well. – @KevinMyersPK

badgeSmoke what you are selling & sell what you’re smoking. If we’re selling Jesus we out to be smoking Jesus. – @KevinMyersPK

What’s my current word form the Lord? What is God whispering? – @KevinMyersPK

You think too small & you pray too small. God’s recent message to @KevinMyersPK

The more casual I become with obedience, the more professional I become in ministry. – @KevinMyersPK

What do you do when nobody is looking? – @KevinMyersPK

There can be sacrifice without obedience. But rarely is there obedience without sacrifice. – @12Stone pastor via @KevinMyersPK

paintingLeadership is like parenting… First you say it, then you say it again, and again… and again… – @KevinMyersPK

Leaders build better lives. (Better parents, better business leaders, etc.) – @KevinMyersPK

Every leader knows when they are pulling chips off the table to protect themselves. – @KevinMyersPK

A great way to learn is from individual conversations with the right people. – @KevinMyersPK

Staff members should have contacts at churches larger than ours & contacts with experience 3-5 years out from the season we are going through. – @KevinMyersPK

lead small cupsMake sure that what’s on the wall (mission) is in your words and actions. – @KevinMyersPK

(In leadership) what’s in you comes out. – @KevinMyersPK

The next generation needs everything the current generation has to offer. (Invest in internships). – @KevinMyersPK

Choosing empathy is cheap. Losing empathy (relationship) is expensive. – @JonAcuff

seatsWhat people want is empathy. They ask, “Do you see me?” “Do you create things to meet my needs?” – @JonAcuff

Read less minds. Ask more questions. – @JonAcuff

If you ever see a pacifier by itself, pray for the parent. Funny from @JonAcuff

Care about what the people you care about care about. – @JonAcuff

Empathy is understanding what someone needs needs and acting on it. – @JonAcuff

The church is calibrated for a world that doesn’t exist. – Fuller friend of @KPowellFYI

writing on wallEmerging adults (late 20s) are delaying marriage and children by 5 years. We have to rethink our ministry because of this gap. @KPowellFYI

76% of LGBTQ people would return to the faith community. They need Informed, respectful conversations. @KPowellFYI

Churches cater to extroverts. One third of the population are introverts. As such churches miss reaching 1/3 of people. – @KPowellFYI

I long for the church to be known more for what we’re for than what we’re against.- @KPowellFYI

You cannot help the person you’re not around. – Kellen Moore

People visit (church) on Sunday and live on Monday. (Help them make it through through the week.) – @JonAcuff

reggie joiner sketchnoteYou naturally feel the pressure that Sunday is coming. Thinking of Monday changes how you think about Sunday. – @ReggieJoiner

You have to imagine someone’s Monday (life) before you can re-imagine what happens on Sunday (church). – @ReggieJoiner

You can have a great vision. But if you don’t have a strategy you won’t win. – @ReggieJoiner

The truth matters when love matters. – @ReggieJoiner

Sometimes what you say doesn’t matter, even if it is true. – @ReggieJoiner

You can’t really speak the truth in love if you don’t know who you are speaking to. – @ReggieJoiner

textingIt’s easier to speak truth than it is to love somebody. – @ReggieJoiner

It’s easier to fight for the truth than it is to fight for the heart. – @ReggieJoiner

It’s not your job to fix someone. It’s you’re job to love them. – @ReggieJoiner

Empathy: The ability to press pause on your own thoughts & feelings long enough to consider someone else’s thoughts and feelings. – @ReggieJoiner

Empathy doesn’t change the truth. It enhances the truth. – @ReggieJoiner

Click here for more information on the Orange Conference. Click here for more information on reThink Leadership.

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Best Church Leadership Resources – Podcasts, Books, Conferences, Blogs

A list of the best church leadership resource, including podcasts, books, conferences and blogs.

People often ask about the best resources to help them lead. Below are some of my personal favorites.


BlogDan Reiland – Developing Church Leaders: Dan is one of the wisest leaders I know. He has gained that wisdom from years working in the trenches with John Maxwell and Kevin Myers. He knows how to run churches well and desires to share that information to help others. He does so at:

Xpastor: Xpastor is a website aimed at executive & senior pastors. When the executive pastor position was just coming on the scene, David Fletcher started the website. He used it define the position and help churches identify good executive pastors (“XPs”). Since that time David has collected helpful church leadership articles from some of the best pastors out there:

CHURCHLEADERS: Great compilation of blog posts from church leaders:

Brian Dodd On Leadership: Brian’s heart just oozes leadership. He finds management wisdom in everything he sees. He shares great insights and resources at:

Tony Morgan Live: Thoughtful and useful articles on church management:

Executive Pastor Online: Kevin Stone shares practical church leadership information:

Harvard Business Review: Truly excellent insights on people, teams and running organizations:

Smart SenseAbilities: Kate Nasser’s thoughtful advice:

Dan Black on Leadership: Pithy and practical:



PodcastThe Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast: Carey is a large church pastor with a passion for leadership and to develop others. He does so with positive energy and an approachable style. Carey gathers some of the best church leadership minds for his weekly podcast:

The Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast: Outstanding ministry advice from one of the most influential church leaders of our time:

The Unseminary Podcast: Rich Birch covers a broad range of church leadership topics in a helpful way:

The Catalyst Ministry Podcast: The latest thinking coming from the influential folks at Catalyst:



Orange ConferenceThe Orange Conference and Orange Tour: Excellent resource senior pastors, children’s pastors, student pastors and family pastors. Few conferences can equal the consistent quality of content and presentation:

The Catalyst Conference and Catalyst One Day: Some of the biggest name speakers and a great focus on the future. Get the conference videos and share them with your staff:

The Global Leadership Summit: Willow Creek’s excellent annual leadership training. Again, be sure to get the conference videos:

The Outcomes Conference: The Christian Leadership Alliance’s yearly conference for equipping church leaders:

XPastor Conference: David Fletcher’s wonderful resource for executive pastors and senior pastors:

Sticky Teams Conference: Larry Osborne and North Coast Training offer some of the most practical and effective advice I’ve seen:

Exponential Conference: Great resource for church planters:

Drive Conference: Offered by Andy Stanley’s North Point Church every few years. Focuses on applicable advice for church leaders:

DiscipleShift 1: For church leaders who want to make discipleship (spiritual growth) a priority. Unique conference taught in small groups:



Axiom by Bill Hybels
Sticky Teams by Larry Osborne
Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley
Simple Church by Thom Rainer
The Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren
7 Practices of Effective Ministry by Andy Stanley
Church Unique by Will Mancini
Winning With People by John Maxwell
Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanley
Spiritual Leadership by Henry and Richard Blackaby
Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders
Knowing God by J.I. Packer
Building Below The Waterline by Gordon MacDonald
Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
Soul Keeping by John Ortberg
Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro
Contagious Generosity by Chris Willard and Jim Sheppard
Second in Command by Dutch Sheets and Christ Jackson
Leading from the Second Chair by Mike Bonem and Roger Patterson
Church Is a Team Sport by Jim Putman
Think Orange by Reggie Joiner
21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell
Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath
Platform by Michael Hyatt
Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
Good to Great by Jim Collins
Thinking for a Change by John Maxwell
Leadership Divided by Ron Carucci
Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud

BooksNote that this is not an exhaustive list. There are many other great resources out there. Feel free to share your favorites with me!

I will update this list as I find additional excellent resources.





3 Simple Staff Development Ideas For Your Team

Staff and team development ideas.

One of the most important things you can do as a leader is to keep your eye on the horizon . . . to think further out than your team. This means you’re always watching for the latest developments in the broader church and in leadership. You can then bring that information back to your team so that everyone stays current.

Here are a few simple staff development ideas:

BOOKS: Choose a leadership book that will help your team grow from where it is to where it wants to be. Buy everyone a copy and spend some time in each staff meeting discussing it.

VIDEOS: There are a lot of great conference presentations, TED talks and YouTube leadership videos out there (some examples are listed below). Videos can bring a lot of ideas to your staff quickly . . . and they don’t require any advance preparation on the part of your team.

CONFERENCES: Keep an eye on local and national conferences. Taking key staff members will both educate and motivate.

TeamworkSMALL GROUPS: If you really want to develop your staff, here’s something a little more challenging . . . start a small group with your team members. This is what Jesus did. He poured into his 12 disciples by living his life with them. He revealed who He was and modeled what needed to be done.

This is something I’ve done personally for the last two years. I intentionally invited our department heads to meet with me each week at my house. We not only discuss business, but our lives. We brainstorm solutions and encourage each other. It’s a great way to pass on our collective wisdom.

After meeting for awhile, I am now encouraging our department heads to start groups with their teams. There’s no reason the transparency and authentic relationships we enjoy can’t trickle down throughout our organization.

So there you have it. Develop your entire team with books, videos and conferences. And if you really want to see a select portion of them grow, do what Jesus did . . . lead a small group for them.


TED Talks
RSA Animate
Willow Creek Leadership Summit Videos
Catalyst Conference Videos
Andy Stanley Leadership Videos 



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Orange Tour Notes 2015 – It’s Just A Phase, So Don’t Miss It

Orange Tour notes 2015 – summaries from various sessions.

Orange Blog Rob CizekOrange 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.


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.



How To Live Out The Phases – Reggie Joiner

Orange Tour 2015The 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.



Reggie Joiner

Reggie Joiner

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.

2015-09-17 18.53.55

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.

2015-09-18 14.35.55Fun 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!



Breakout A – “Do Over” Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff at the Atlanta Orange Conference 2015.

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.

Character (Jump)

Opportunity (Hustle)

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.

1. Humility
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.

2. Time
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?

3. Clarity
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 2015Breakout 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.

2015-09-18 08.43.37Middle 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:

Orange Tour Photo BoothGive 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.


Lead Small Kids – Speakers: Sue Miller, Afton Manny, & Kellen

2015-09-17 22.06.10Kids 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).

2015-09-17 18.51.25Kids 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.



Lead Small- Move Them Out

Speaker: Joseph Sojourner, @jamsojourner

2015-09-17 19.12.52A 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.


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7 Steps to Church Growth – Inside Carey Nieuwhof’s Book “Lasting Impact”

7 steps to church growth is a series of conversations to have with your team about the future.

Why is church growth such a difficult thing to talk about? On one hand, we want to dismiss it . . . after all, it’s spiritual growth we want for our congregation, not just attendance. On the other hand, it’s our mission to reach people for Jesus. Attendance figures are a partial indicator of that.

Orange Blog Rob CizekEveryone agrees that church growth is better than church decline. To help churches grow, influential pastor Carey Nieuwhof is about to release “Lasting Impact – 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow.” I was able to get an advance copy of the book when it debuted at the Orange Conference. Here’s a look at the wisdom Nieuwhof offers:

Conversation #1. Why Are We Not Growing Faster?
Church growth isn’t a mystery. There are patterns we can spot in both declining and growing churches. For instance, declining churches are:
> In conflict.
> More in love with the past than the future.
> Not that awesome to be around.
> Focused inwardly.
> See culture as the enemy.
> Afraid to risk what is for the sake of what might be.
> Can’t make a decision.
> Talk more than act.
> Don’t think there’s anything wrong.
> More focused on growth than God.

To get a stagnant church growing:
> Consider structure: Most churches are structured (organized) to remain small. You can’t be a supermarket if you are structured like a small “mom and pop” grocery story.
> Rethink the pastor’s role: Many congregations see the pastor as the only one who can give care, counseling and perform weddings/funerals. Consider equipping congregation members to handle most of the caring. This way the pastor can focus on higher level functions and growth strategy.
> Develop a strategy: Many churches are clear on mission and vision (the “why” and “what”), but lack a widely agreed upon strategy (“how” you will accomplish your mission and vision).
> Many small churches are not led by true leaders. Growing churches move people with the gift of leadership into positions of leadership.
> Empower volunteers.
> Stop micromanaging.
> Simplify programming. Most churches attempt to do too many things. Activity does not equal accomplishment. Cut “good” programs in order to focus on just a few “great” ones.

To grow, address the real issues. Don’t simply make a change in form, make a change in substance. Questions to ask when a church stops growing:
> Is our sense of mission white-hot?
> Has our strategy or approach become dated?
> Are we on top of the constant change in our culture?
> Are we focused on unchurched people or on ourselves?

Growing churches:
> Have main services that engage teenagers. If teens find your service boring, so will unchurched people.
> Are good with questions. Embracing the questions of unchurched people is a form of embracing them.
> Are honest about struggles. Unchurched people are suspicious when church leaders appear to have it “all together.”
> Have easy, obvious, strategic and helpful steps for new people.
> Have dumped assumptions. Unchurched people don’t know the basics of the Christian faith.
> Don’t do outreach as a program. Unchurched people know when “insiders” are putting on a show for outsiders.
> Are flexible and adaptable. We are never done reaching people. Churches that are adaptable and flexible in their strategy (not their mission or vision) will have the best chance of continually reaching unchurched people.

The main causes of church stagnation and decline are:
> Internal dysfunction that is sapping the community of its life, such as conflict, wrong people in the wrong places, and unrealistic expectations of staff, boards and volunteers.
> Structural issues, such as boards, that micromanage or pastoral care being vesting in a handful of leaders.
> An inward focus that refuses to acknowledge the need to change in order to be effective with outsiders.

Lasting ImpactConversation #2. How Do We Respond as People Attend Church Less Often?
Even if you are successful leading people to Jesus, people are simply attending church less frequently. Here are some reasons:
> Greater affluence. People with more money have options, technology, travel and kids.
> Increased kids’ activities. Many children are playing on traveling sports teams. Parents are choosing kids’ sports over church.
> More people are traveling for business and pleasure.
> 24/7 culture. Working on weekends is common. Society no longer has a common pause day.
> Blended and single-parent families. When custody is shared, perfect attendance is 26 weeks a year.
> Online options. Churches with an online presence negatively impact physical attendance, but likely increase their overall reach.
> Cultural disappearance of guilt. People used to feel guilty about missing church. No longer.
> Self-directed spirituality. Postmodern thinking wants a self-directed approach over an institutional one.
> Failure to see direct benefit. People always make time for what they value most. They may not see value in attending church week after week.
> Valuing attendance over engagement. Engaged people attend more. People who merely attend fade away with time. Place the value on engagement and attendance may take care of itself.
> A massive culture shift. Our culture is shifting seismically.

Characteristics of today’s unchurched people:
> They don’t have big “problems.” Many people’s lives aren’t falling apart. They are content with their lives without God.
> Most are spiritual. Most believe in some kind of God and are offended when you see them as atheists.
> They aren’t sure what “Christian” means. You can’t make any assumptions about what people know about the Christian faith.
> You can’t call them back to something they never knew. “Revival” assumes there is something to revive.
> Many have tried church, but left. They had a negative experience the first time. This influences their expectations if they return to church.
> They want you to be 100% Christian, not some watered-down version.
> They’re intelligent, so speak to that. Don’t speak down to people that are new.
> They hate hypocrisy.
> They love transparency.
> They invite their friends if they like what they’re discovering.
> Their spiritual trajectory varies dramatically. Give people a chance to hang in the shadows for a while, then provide multiple jumping-in points throughout the year.
> Some want to be anonymous and some want immediate connection.

Tips for connecting with infrequent attenders and unchurched people:
> Embrace them. An unchurched person can initially seem very different than Christians who have been to church all their lives.
> Show empathy. If a person who has never gone to church is coming 12 times a year, that’s real progress.
> Separate the mission from the method. Our mission is to lead people to Jesus, not simply to get them to show up for an hour on Sunday.
> Celebrate wins. When a child takes their first steps, we applaud wildly. Do the same when people take steps spiritually.
> Elevate relationships. Create meaningful relationships through small groups.
> Love people. Don’t underestimate the power of simply showing love and grace.
> Create a culture of serving. Serving connects people to something bigger than themselves.
> Prioritize kids and teens. The more you prioritize families, the more families will prioritize Sundays.
> Create an irresistible experience. Many churches are resistible and don’t value excellence. Are we content with being mediocre?
> Create an awesome online presence. Have a quality social media program. Be the favorite person in their inbox and their favorite thing to see in their newsfeed.
> Offer offline surprises. Do something unique or fun just for those attending the physical location (not available online).
> Start measuring spiritual growth results.

Conversation #3. Are Our Leaders Healthy . . . Really?
Healthy leaders create healthy churches. The demands of leadership push you towards becoming unhealthy. Watch for these signs of burnout:
> Your motivation is fading. The passion that once fueled you is gone.
> Your main emotion is numbness. You no longer feel the highs and lows.
> People drain you. Nobody energizes you anymore.
> Little things make you disproportionately angry.
> You’re becoming cynical.
> Your productivity is dropping.
> You’re self-medicating (overeating, working more, gossip, spending, under-the-radar substance abuse).
> You don’t laugh anymore.
> Sleep and time off no longer refuel you.

10 healthy options for self-care:
> A great daily time with God
> Exercise
> A healthy diet
> Proper sleep
> Intentional white space in your calendar
> Healthy friendships. When was the last time you hung out with a friend you didn’t need to minster to?
> Margin. You are at your most kind when you have the most margin.
> Hobbies
> Family time
> Coaching and counseling

Conversation #4. What Keeps High-Capacity Leaders from Engaging Our Mission?
Churches are volunteer organizations. Many churches maintain a mediocre volunteer culture, which deters high-capacity volunteers. Volunteers ask 5 questions. If you answer them in a healthy way, high-capacity volunteers will stick around.
> Are the personal relationships around here healthy?
> Will serving help me grow spiritually? Pray for and with your volunteers. Share your journey and encourage theirs. Mentor them.
> Am I just a means to an end? Care about people, don’t just use them.
> Will you help me develop the skills I need? People need a little training to do the task well.
> Am I signing up for life? Put a time limit for serving when you ask someone to volunteer.

Reasons high-capacity people leave your team:
> The challenge isn’t big enough.
> You vision, mission and strategy are fuzzy.
> You’re disorganized.
> You let people off the hook too easily. For everyone’s sake, you should hold volunteers accountable (like you do with staff).
> You’re not giving them enough personal attention.
> You don’t have enough other high-capacity volunteers around them.

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Conversation #5. Why are Young Adults Walking Away from Church?
Half the students who are actively involved with church during high school leave after graduation. Here are some things that will help them stick around:
> Inter-generational relationships. Young adults want mentoring and to serve with older adults.
> Giving and receiving grace. Research shows that churches that show grace to teens do better than those that do not.
> Expressing doubt safely. Young people need to be able to express doubt. This is part of developing faith. It is unexpressed doubt that is toxic to faith.

Why many young people have stopped attending church:
> The church is irrelevant, the leaders are hypocritical, and leaders have experienced too much moral failure. Counter this by creating a culture of integrity, authenticity and grace.
> God is missing in the church. Young people are looking for God and can’t find Him in the church.
> Legitimate doubt is prohibited. Conservative churches dismiss questions with trite answers. Liberal churches answer with too much ambiguity.
> People aren’t learning about God. People can’t understand anything the pastor teaches . . . as if he is speaking a foreign language.
> They’re not finding community.

In the past you could improve your church by making it more cool (band, lights, etc.). Now most cities have a lot of cool churches. Cool no longer works as a way to attract unchurched people. Here are things that will work:
> Authentic leadership and connection.
> An elevated sense of mission
> Hope
> Elevated community
> Experimentation

Conversation #6. What Cultural Trends Are We Missing?
Culture is changing rapidly. Churches that thrive over the long run will study culture, and in that process, they will become flexible, agile and adaptive. Here are some cultural trends that church leaders can’t ignore:
> Online is the new default. People check you out online before they come through your doors.
> Wi-Fi and smartphones. Your audience is Googling you during services. Do you assume your audience is intelligent, literate and has options?
> Dialog. People want to talk, not just listen. What venues do you have for real conversation?
> Loyalty. Brand loyalty is low. Being around for a long time can be seen as a liability. How are you showing the relevance of faith?
> Lack of guilt. Guilt used to motivate people, but no longer does.
> Declining trust in authority and institutions. People start out with suspicion as their primary approach to the church and its leaders.
> Personalized, eclectic spirituality. People are starting their spiritual journeys with minds open to many different faiths and their own ideas of what spirituality should be.
> Personal mission. People aren’t waiting for some leader to change the world. They just do it themselves.
> Trust in user reviews. What you say about your organization matters less than what others say.
> The death of cash and checks.

What will the future church look like?
> Gatherings will be smaller and larger at the same time. Large churches will be large because they are a collection of dozens of smaller gatherings under some form of shared leadership.
> Churches will have a quicker, lighter footprint. Portable church and innovative gatherings will prevail over multi-million dollar mega-facilities.
> Churches will be about what they want for people, not about what they want from people.
> More church staff will come from the marketplace rather than seminaries.
> Churches that love their model more than their mission will die.
> The church will still gather on weekends.
> Consumer Christianity will die and a more selfless discipleship will emerge.
> Sundays will become more about what we give than what we get.
> Attendance will no longer drive engagement; engagement will drive attendance.
> Simplified ministries will complement peoples’ lives, not compete with peoples’ lives.
> Online church will supplement the journey but not become the journey.
> Online church will become more of a front door than a back door.
> Online relationships will be valued as real relationships.

Carey Nieuwhof at Orange Atlanta.

Carey Nieuwhof at Orange Atlanta.

Conversation #7. What Are We Actually Willing to Change?
Here are things we can do when people want a church to grow but not to change:
> Tell the truth. Your patterns, habits and level of effectiveness as a church got you to where you are now. Point out the truth nobody wants to talk about.
> Plot trajectory. Map where the organization is going. “If we continue doing what we’re doing today, where will we be one year, two years and five years from now? If we change, where will we be one year, two years and five years from now?”
> Ban delusional talk. Refuse to allow people to divorce themselves from reality.
> Get an outside view. Read a book with your team, attend a conference or bring in a consultant.
> Offer constant feedback. Continue to point the group back to the truth.
> Draw a line and call it for what it is. At some point you have to stop talking and start doing. Put a do-by date on your conversations.

How to lead change when you’re not the boss:

> Think like a senior leader. Think about how an idea impacts the greater organization.
> Express desires, not demands. Show respect and share how you feel, don’t tell your leader how you think they should feel.
> Explain the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’. Click here for an excellent TED Talk on this.
> Stay publicly loyal. Public loyalty buys private leverage.
> Be part of the solution.
> Change yourself. Don’t just focus on the changes you want to see in others.

“Lasting Impact” is designed to be read with your staff. Each chapter includes questions to work through with your team. Click here to obtain a copy as soon as it is published.

There is great value in thinking about the future of our churches and making changes that improve our organizations. As Nieuwhof concludes, “The best is yet to come, and you have the potential to play a meaningful part in that amazing story.”


10 Reasons Your Church Isn’t Growing

5 Reasons Churches Stop Growing

5 Signs Bad Governance Is Limiting Your Church Growth

10 Predictions About The Future Of Church

8 Reasons Churches Don’t Break The 200 Attendance Mark

The Changes Your Church Needs To Make As It Grows (Podcast)

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“It’s Just A Phase” – Reggie Joiner’s New Orange Focus

Reggie Joiner

Reggie Joiner at the Orange Conference 2015.

Orange is an organization that promotes quality leadership in children’s and student ministry. This year they announced a new focus: “It’s Just A Phase.” If we understand that the phases of a child’s life are short seasons, we can make the most of them. Below are notes from @ReggieJoiner’s main keynote session in which he outlined the new direction for Orange. Thanks to my friend @CherylKneeland for putting these together!

If you would like to see video of Reggie Joiner explaining these key concepts, click here for part one, here for part two and here for part three.




We don’t want your 3rd graders and 6th graders and 12th graders to miss out because you don’t get it. Reasons it’s easy to miss:

1. We don’t see what we don’t see.


ELEMENTARY: ENGAGE- Do I have what it takes?


1. Help them own their own faith.

2. Help them begin to value community.

HIGH SCHOOL: MOBILIZE- Why should I believe (you)?

We need a common language as leaders.

2. We don’t remember what we don’t remember. 

One thing ties us all together: Every kid is made in the image of God.

Every kid has the divine capacity to…love, care…

“Whoever welcomes one such child welcomes me.” -Jesus

Jesus made kids a pretty big deal.

When I welcome you (a child), it’s like I’m welcoming God.

I don’t think the problem is we forget kids are sinners, I think the problem is we forget kids are made in the image of God.

God has created and designed us in such a way that we can do what we do even when we don’t know who He is.

Treat every kid who breathes like they are made in the image of God.

3. We don’t anticipate what we don’t anticipate.

Lean into each other and teach each other what this looks like in every phase.

Preschool: 4 out of every 10 kids live without a father.

Elementary: 2 out of every 10 girls are sexually abused.

Middle School: 1 out of every 10 kids start cutting.

1 out of of every 10 kids will be sexually active by the time they finish 8th grade.

High School:

2% of kids will be sexually active by the end of 7th grade.

30% of kids will be sexually active by the end of 9th grade.

41% by the end of 10th grade

54% by the end of 11th grade

64% by the end of 12th grade

How can we do this better?

Don’t let anyone tell you what you do is not important.

Think about your role and what God has called you to do.

Orange Blog Rob CizekComments by Jim Burns:

So love every kid like they are wired to show love.

Even with that depth of pain, with so many kids struggling, those issues don’t define them. Love does.

Reach children not by creating barriers but by loving them.

“Jesus wept.” Our God cares that deeply for children.

Mark 9:42 He cares deeply for children.

Best shot at helping kids is when the church and home come together (Think Orange).

Most kids don’t get good, healthy, positive sex education growing up.

“Don’t do it.” Then silence is a mixed message.

25% of women who have sexual intercourse (before marriage) experience depression within 3 months.

65% of kids leave the church right after High School.


Preschool- Embrace 

God made their body. He made boys, girls, different shapes, sizes… God made you. God made boys with penises and girls with vaginas. Help them get comfortable with their bodies.

Elementary- Engage

Answer questions, ask questions. They are curious how God makes babies. Ask: Do they know someone expecting a baby?

Teach kids to put a hand out and tell anyone (peers or adults) to STOP then tell a trusted adult if someone tries to touch their private parts.

Sharing your private parts is something you save for your future marriage.

Middle School/High School- Mobilize

Talk about sexuality.

Start talking about pornography. The average age in the US that a kid first views pornography is 11 years old.

Purity Code: In honor of God, my family, and my future spouse…

Experimental phase- Keep your standard high but shower them with Grace.

Genesis 1 & 2, Exodus 20:14, 1 Thessalonians 1:3,…

Teach them one flesh, not just as a sexual thing but as a spiritual thing.

No such thing as casual sex.

God’s love knows no limits.

So love every kid like they are wired to love. Believe in them, bless them, and watch them thrive.

Jon Acuff at the Atlanta Orange Conference 2015.

Jon Acuff at the Atlanta Orange Conference 2015.

Comments by @JonAcuff

Childhood feels shorter than it’s ever been.

You can fast-forward childhood but you can’t rewind it.

Sometimes it starts with a phone.

There’s not a 3rd grader on the planet that’s emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually able to handle the internet and everyone on it.

It’s not a question of whether they’ll talk about their identity, it’s who they’ll talk about it with.

We’ve forgotten that we’re wired with the image of God.

The hardest part of what you do is you often don’t get to see the results.

Stories get stuck, unless leaders get brave.

There’s a world of kids out there waiting for those four words (Embrace, Engage, Affirm, Mobilize).

Additional comments by @reggiejoiner

When you EMBRACE the physical needs of preschoolers, you are being Jesus to them.

When you lean into kids and try to keep their attention, you ENGAGE them; you are doing what Jesus stepped onto this planet to do.

When a kid shifts into the world you have them in and starts to wonder if they’re worth it, you AFFIRM them. You are doing what Jesus stepped onto this planet to do. They need to know what it’s like to be forgiven.

The Countdown clock is spinning as fast as it can. You have the opportunity to disciple high schoolers, be with them. Encourage them in a mission that only they can do. MOBILIZE them and understand that they will outgrow your programs, but they will not outgrow personal ministry.

Every kid is created in the image of God and we need to understand that and tell them that.

The people who abandon you don’t get to decide who you become.

So treat every kid like they are created in the image of God.

Thank you for reading Rob Cizek – Practical Leadership. If you would like to know when new posts are available, simply enter your email address below:


Orange Atlanta 2015

Reggie Joiner video explaining why time is so crucial:


Top 10 Leadership Quotes From The CLA #Outcomes15

Here are the top leadership quotes from this year’s Christian Leadership Alliance national conference (from the #Outcomes15 Twitter feed):

#10. One of the great failures of many leaders: “Falling in love with the process rather than the outcome.” – @CLAleader (via @BradleyReid77)

#9. 90% of our #leadership influence lies in the qualities beneath the surface. – @TimElmore (via @geohil)

#8. The purpose of life is not to arrive at the casket safely. – @ChristineCaine (via @ArnieAdkison)

#7. How well a leader follows others offers people quick insight into the leader’s character. – @CLALeader (via @geohil)

#6. There is a huge difference between a program and a movement. Movements start small and take time. – @TimElmore (via @geohil)

#5. Both courage and fear are contagious. – @TimElmore (via @geohil)

#4. We can get so focused on the program or product that we can forget the purpose of the organization. – @TimElmore (via @geohil)

#3. Don’t let the fear of failure lock you into comfort. – Israel Gaither (via @PSean)

#2. The light doesn’t come on until you walk in the room. Want to experience power? Start moving. – @EvansLegacy (via @mary_gunther)

#1. If you don’t like change, you’ll like irrelevance even less. – @CLALeader (via @geohil)


When an organization is stuck, it takes a courageous leader to take the first step.– @TimElmore (via @geohil)

Images are the oldest yet preferred form of communication today. – @TimElmore (via @geohil)

In organization culture, what gets rewarded gets done. Be intentional in what you celebrate. – @TimElmore (via @geohil)

It is no longer about a work/life balance for #Millennials but a work/life blend. – @TimElmore (via @geohil)

Character enables the #leader to do what is right even when it is difficult. – @TimElmore (via @geohil)

There is oneness with leadership and followership. One is not greater than the other. – @CLALeader (via @geohil)

God loves you too much to give you too much. God knows the weight of what He gives. – Jonathan Evans (via @TamiHeim)

When God brings about change in an organization, he begins with the leader. – @TimElmore (via @geohil)

Character communicates credibility, creates consistency and earns trust. – @TimElmore (via @StanKeithHC)

Leadership is about focus. Focus is what people need because most people live unfocused lives. – @TimElmore (via @geohil)

There’s a difference between biblical hope and human optimism. – @davidkinnaman (via @CLALeader)

Leaders see differently than followers. They see before, beyond and bigger than followers. – @TimElmore (via @mary_gunther)

Thank you for reading Rob Cizek – Practical Leadership. If you would like to know when new posts are available, simply enter your email address below:



How To Create Safe Meetings That Encourage Authentic Communication

Tips for creating safe meetings that encourage authentic communication and relationships. 

Do you want more effective meetings? Do you want to encourage genuine and authentic communication between your team members?  How about if the topic is controversial or difficult?

Start creating safe environments by being a facilitator. As the leader don’t dictate or teach. People open up when they are asked questions. When leading a meeting, draw people out as a facilitator. Ensure they feel heard and valued as they respond.

In addition to facilitating, set up safe meeting ground rules for the group. Present these at the start of each meeting and hold people to them.


SAFE GROUP: It is everyone’s responsibility, using grace and emotional intelligence, to create a place where everyone can be real, open and honest.

USE “I” STATEMENTS: It’s easy to talk about the issues of others. However, this is a place to put ourselves on the table. Use “I” sentences rather than “them”, “us”, “we”, “the organization”, etc. Do not purport to represent a group or other people.


meetingVEGAS RULE: What is shared here stays here. This conversation is confidential.

LISTEN: Really listen and hear what is said. Avoid “thinking ahead” about how you might respond or about what’s next. Allow the speaker to pause without jumping in. Allow for uncomfortable silence while people process. Give the speaker time and space to express 100% of what they’re thinking.

ONE PERSON SPEAKS AT A TIME (WHILE EVERYONE LISTENS): No side conversations or cross talk.

DON’T OVERSHARE: Be sensitive about the amount of time you use when sharing. Avoid unnecessary “rabbit trails” and excessive detail.

NON-VERBALS MATTER: Maintain an open posture, friendly countenance, and an approachable tone. 80% of communication is non-verbal.

NO FIXING OR RESCUING: When people are sharing something personal, there can be a tendency to immediately provide counsel or condolences. This stops the sharing. Avoid trying to fix or rescue people.

DISAGREEMENT DOES NOT EQUAL DISUNITY: When it comes to tough subjects, not everyone is going to agree. That’s okay. We can still respect and love each other. We can still fellowship and worship together. Differentiate between tensions to be managed and problems to be solved.

DIFFERENCES MATTER: Loving and respecting each other does not imply that we devalue our differences. Differences are important and meaningful.

GIVE GRACE: It’s possible that people won’t make their points as well as they would like (or use incorrect terms). It’s possible that emotion might overpower content. That’s okay. We’re big enough to give grace.

ENTHUSIASM VARIES: Not everyone has the same level of enthusiasm for this conversation. Some may be excited about it, while others would rather not discuss it. Be respectful of how others may be feeling.

EVERYONE GETS A PASS: Everyone has the right not to participate. Politely say, “I’m going to take a pass on this one.” No one should force anyone else into participation.

TURN OFF MOBILE DEVICES: This is a crucial conversation. Let’s be fully present. There will be plenty of time during the breaks to check messages.


​It’s okay to take care of yourself.
​It’s okay to take time away. You don’t have to do anything.
​It’s okay to be overwhelmed.
​It’s okay to ask for help

These safe communication guidelines aren’t entirely original. Many of the ideas have been assembled from a variety of credible sources.



photo by:

5 Critically Important Things To Know About People Outside The Church Today

What you should know about people who are outside the church and do not attend church services.

Orange Blog Rob CizekImagine going to a conference and only hearing the best presentations. That’s what we are able to do with great notes. In this case, the notes come from @CherylKneeland. Cheryl took notes at Carey Nieuwhof’s excellent presentation on unchurched people (presented at this year’s Orange Tour). Here are five things we should all know about people in our culture.


Presented by @cnieuwhof, Orange Tour 2014

A growing number of people are saying “no” to church.

It used to be pretty easy to break down the walls, but it’s more difficult than ever to connect with unchurched people. It’s not just hostility anymore, it’s indifference.

Among 18-34 year olds, 63% said they have no interest in ever having a conversation with anyone involved in church. They are indifferent to us.

Many people have learned to live comfortably without God. They think it’s fine to have no church in the community. There is an entire culture that has learned to be successful by turning its back on God.

5 Characteristics of People Outside the Church Today

1. They feel less guilty than you think. People just don’t feel guilty anymore. The average person will feel as guilty about not attending church on Sundays as you feel about not attending synagogue on Saturdays. They don’t think about it. It’s not on their radar.

There are a lot of people that haven’t left your church, they just don’t attend very often (maybe just once a year) and they don’t feel guilty about it. If you are relying on GUILT as a motivator, good luck. Guilt is a short-term motivator. Guilt is seeing its final days as a motivator to get people to attend church.

2. People can’t come back to something they never knew. We have assumed for years that people will be back to church when they have kids, but it’s not true. Revivals are dead, they have stopped working in many places. Revival means that you’ve had something that was alive, but is now dead. However, many of these people have nothing to revive. They don’t know the Bible. If your curriculum is based on a story that you’re assuming they know, it’s not going to work. Assume that everyone is starting at step one. Create a discipleship path that keeps going. Maturity takes time and you have to be willing to give people time.

3. Most people are spiritual. One of the things unchurched people tell us is that the church believes that people who don’t go to church are not spiritual. But that’s simply not true. If you build your approach around the belief that people who don’t attend your church don’t believe, you’ll offend them. They absolutely believe, they may not know what they believe, but they believe something.

Early Rome was a very religious empire. Athens was religious, they just weren’t Christian. Your starting point with unchurched people is very important. We typically start with theology. And something inside of us sometimes gets upset when they don’t have all the theology figured out.

What if you responded to their questions with, “That’s very interesting, tell me more.”? Listen to them. Lifestyle issues, sexual identity, sex outside of marriage, sexual ethics. If you start there, how do those conversations usually go? They never go well.

Jesus never started with theology, He started with ministry. Look at the Samaritan woman, look at everyone he talked to. Jesus changed people’s lives because he started with ministry NOT theology. He asks people to come alongside Him. Just come on, hang out. Over a number of years, that group of outsiders is transformed. The Pharisees started with theology. The religious people started with what was wrong, Jesus started with people.

4. Unchurched people expect authenticity in leaders. They just want real. They want to know that sometimes when you pray, you think you’re talking to the ceiling. It’s just the number of times that I felt God was present in my prayers far outweighs the times I felt I was talking to the ceiling.

When you’re authentic and transparent, instead of talking at people you walk alongside people. You look at God’s word together. People admire your strengths, but they resonate with your weaknesses. When you speak out of your weaknesses, people feel like they get you. . . that they could hang out with you.

5. Unchurched people are looking for partners. They are:

> Looking for what to experience next.
> Looking for people that don’t know all the answers and who can be an empathetic mentor.
> Looking for people in the same place (peers).
> Looking for family.
> Looking for swim lessons, preschools, peers, partners…

The reality is that they don’t think that the church can help. What if your church was known as the premier place to go to when you have children… the best place to raise kids of faith and character? What if we start convincing them that the church can help?

So What Can We Do?

1. Say YES to friendship. How many unchurched people do you know? We need to be intentional. We need to do some things to get in the lives of unchurched people.

2. Say YES to dialogue. What about real dialogue, what about real faith? Monologues just don’t do that. People need someone to talk to, someone to hear their story.

3. Say YES to change. It’s hard. Even though God doesn’t change, we should. What do we need to do differently today in order to reach the people you want tomorrow? If you experiment you open up the door to more potential.

Take a few minutes today to think about church like an unchurched person would. Based on what you see, give yourself permission to do things differently. This is how we better connect people to God and how we stay relevant.


Orange Tour Notes 2014

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.


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.


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 - Seattle Northshore Christian ChurchORANGE 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.


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 - Reggie JoinerORANGE 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.


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.

PRINCIPLES:                                             STORIES:
Content                                                        Context
Idea                                                              History
God’s Thoughts                                          God’s Character
How to Live Life                                           How to Love Life
Reason                                                         Empathy
Discern                                                         Imagine
Wisdom                                                        Faith

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.


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.


Orange Tour - Seattle Northshore Christian Church

Top 10 Leadership Quotes From The Orange Tour 2014

Here are the top leadership quotes and ministry quotes from this year’s Orange Tour. Each year the good folks at Orange tour several cities teaching leadership and family ministry. Our church hosts the Seattle stop. Here are highlights:


Orange Tour#10. Being afraid isn’t failure, staying afraid is. – @JonAcuff

#9. Just because something is true doesn’t mean that it will be embraced. – @ReggieJoiner

#8. Sometimes you need to risk and sacrifice what you are currently doing for the sake of what could be. – @CNieuwhof

#7. Stop thinking like a teacher… act like a coach. – @ReggieJoiner

#6. When you raise bar, high capacity people show up. – @CNieuwhof

#5. Surround yourself with voices that value what is dynamic as much as what is core. – @ReggieJoiner

#4. You’ve got to do character on the front end, not the back end. – @CNieuwhof

#3. As a leader, you are driven by mission, but you succeed because of strategy. – @ReggieJoiner

#2. The scope of your influence is determined by the success of your leaders. – @ReggieJoiner

#1. People admire your strengths, but they resonate with your weaknesses. – @CNieuwhof


Orange Tour - Reggie Joiner#12. People aren’t looking for friendliness, they are looking for friends. – @ReggieJoiner

#11. Trust leads to stronger faith, but doubt can also lead to stronger faith. – @ReggieJoiner

#10. Jesus never started with theology. He started with ministry. Where you start with someone is important. – @CNieuwhof

#9. God is not surprised or disappointed by the size of your ministry. – @JonAcuff

#8. If you never let your kids process their own doubts, they’ll never own their own faith. – @ReggieJoiner

#7. Don’t make the things in the world the enemy. – @ReggieJoiner

#6. Maturity takes time… we have to be willing to give people time. @CNieuwhof

#5. The greatest apologetic is a transformed life, not a full mind. – @ReggieJoiner

#4. One day when parents and kids think about your church, YOU will be what they remember. – @CNieuwhof

#3. The production at your churches doesn’t change lives. Relationships do. – @CNieuwhof

#2. You should invest in insiders. You should prioritize for outsiders. – @ReggieJoiner

#1. In the future, dialog will trump monolog.- @CNieuwhof


Orange Tour - Seattle Northshore Christian ChurchThe church should be the safest place to ask questions. – @ReggieJoiner

As leaders, our mission is to influence those who influence the next generation. – @ReggieJoiner

If you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time. What are you aiming at? – @JimWideman

When you start with a self-depreciating story as a leader, it works… because they all can relate to you. – @CNieuwhof

Kids may be leaving the church because there it is not a safe place to ask their tough questions. – @CNieuwhof

Tension doesn’t make a truth less true, it makes it more real. – @ReggieJoiner

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. – @ReggieJoiner

Sometimes a truth can lose clarity when it’s divorced from the reality of the other truths that amplify it. – @ReggieJoiner

When there’s tension, there’s opportunity. Tension creates a platform for conversation. – @ReggieJoiner

“You can’t tell kids to be the church one day if you haven’t given them the opportunity to be the church now.” – @ReggieJoiner

Kids will not believe they are signficant until you give them something significant to do. – @ReggieJoiner

You should enjoy going to church. We should create church as a place people want to be. – @ReggieJoiner

You may become a Christian in a moment, but it takes forever to figure out what that means. – @ReggieJoiner

Working with children is like planting an orchard. You might not see results until years later. – @ReggieJoiner

What God has given me is what I need to say yes to. – @JonAcuff

You will never be able to out-produce what’s available in culture. Culture can’t out-“community” your church. – @ReggieJoiner

Beliefs matter. Start wrestling with doctrine & principles & ask hard questions-it’s important! – @ReggieJoiner

What do you need to do differently today… to reach the people you want to reach tomorrow? – @CNieuwhof


Tweet From Elle Campbell: For more notes from @ellllllllllle and @kennnnnnnnny on creating a safe space for students, visit

Tweet from Jim Wideman: #Orangetour Seattle here are my notes and worker app enjoy

The Orange Tour stops in cities around the country each fall. I find it a great resource for our children’s ministry, student ministry, family ministry and senior leadership teams. Click here for more information.



Orange Tour - Seattle Northshore Christian Church


Leadership Lessons From A Leader Of Leaders: Carey Nieuwhof

Who do you like to learn leadership from? Perhaps the best people to learn from are those special leaders who can lead leaders.

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

It was my privilege to sit down with just such a person at the Orange leaders conference. Carey Nieuwhof is a leader in the Orange organization, which attracts some of the best minds anywhere. He also leads a highly successful church in the Toronto area. He is an outstanding speaker, connector, doer and visionary. Nieuwhof is a leader of leaders . . . and I asked him for his most practical leadership advice.


Deciding what you are not going to do is as important as deciding what you are going to do. The genius is in knowing what you are skilled and gifted at. Only say “yes” to those things you do well. Say “no” to everything else, especially those things at which you aren’t very good. Become excellent at saying “no” graciously. Your spouse and your assistant can help you in saying “no”. They may be able to decline some opportunities for you. Eliminate 90% of the opportunities that come your way so that you can focus on the 10% of opportunities for which you are gifted.


Being a morning person helps. Get up early for your quiet time, writing and social media posts. Have them done by 8am.

Have a good assistant.

Be very careful what you say “yes” to and focus on what you are good at (as noted above).

Productivity varies with life stage. A driven person in a life stage where there are no kids at home may have one capacity level. A leader in a life stage where there are heavy family demands may have a different capacity, in that specific season. It’s good to be aware of your personal life circumstance and adjust your priorities/expectations/time accordingly.

Cultivate your heart. Your interior journey determines your external journey. Guard your heart with great friendships. Gather wise people around you. Maintain good relationships with Jesus and your spouse. Get enough sleep. Do the things that energize you.

Nieuwhof does not regularly watch TV or play golf. He enjoys cycling and uses the time cycling to think and create outlines for his writing.

A note for senior pastors. Pastors are expected to create sermons and give their church vision. In essence, pastors create “something out of nothing.” This means setting aside meaningful time to think and create message series/church vision. Nieuwhof limits doing church business functions to a maximum of three days each week in order to preserve enough margin to create.


It is character, not competency, that determines your capacity. As you grow your character you grow your capacity as a leader. It’s relatively easy to develop your skill set, especially in the areas in which you are gifted. However, character issues such as humility and submission were the things Nieuwhof wrestled with as a younger leader.

Having a mentor is important throughout life, but it’s especially valuable in your 20s.

Learning to work with a team is critical. A team can bring out the best in you and in others. Learn this skill as early as you can.


Nieuwhof writes one of the most helpful and practical leadership blogs on the internet (

Writing blog posts help leaders process thoughts. You can become a better thinker by writing.

A blog teaches you what resonates and connects with people. If you write a book you will wait a year for feedback. A blog post allows you to receive immediate feedback. It can be surprising what ideas resonate and get shared. . . and which ones don’t.

Social media allows you to float trial balloons. Nieuwhof notices when one of his tweets gets a lot of response. He will build that idea into a blog post or a sermon.


Zombies, Football and the Gospel by Reggie Joiner

Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley

The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni

Love Works by Joel Manby


The greatest challenge the church faces is creeping irrelevance. We are more irrelevant than we think we are. This is a major blind spot for the church. The best place to see this is in the Millennial Generation.

There is a lack of next generation leaders. Where are the 20-something leaders? We have not seen enough emerge. We need to ensure there are enough young leaders to fill the leadership tank.

There is too much of a divide between business and the church. 100 years ago the best and brightest went into ministry. Now they go into business or elsewhere. This is creating a brain drain for the church.

People and families are looking for answers. However they don’t think the church can help.

The church has a great opportunity to reach people. There has never been more unchurched people. The fields are ready for the harvest.

The church also can leverage billions of dollars in under-used real estate (church buildings).


Carey Nieuwhof - Leading Change Without Losing It

Carey Nieuwhof – Leading Change Without Losing It

Nieuwhof is generous when it comes to sharing his leadership experience and wisdom.

Follow his blog at and on Twitter at

He is also author of the books “Leading Change Without Losing It” and “Parenting Beyond Your Capacity.”