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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Dreaming in Orange

Orange Week: Dreaming in Orange

Simple ways that we’re becoming a more Orange church (and you can too!)

I remember walking away from The Orange Conference for the first time and wondering where to go from there.  Seriously.  You can’t help but feel like you have a spoon to build a mountain with when walking away from a conference that gives you a passion for a strategy that nobody else on your team has ever heard of.  Yet, we’ve been able to make some pretty significant moves toward partnering with families over the last 3 years.  How, you might ask?  Well… I dream in Orange.

(In other words, I’m always thinking about Orange and how we can embrace the strategy more as a team and as a church family – it’s become a part of everything I do)

I need to lay a couple things on the table.  First, the subtitle to this post is a little misleading.  Every church’s “next steps” into Orange will look different and it’s hard to describe a one-size-fits-all approach to stepping into a strategy that hinges on family partnership and unified team dynamics.  Second, our church hasn’t “arrived” at being Orange – in fact, I have weekly moments when I’ve had an interaction with someone else on staff and I want to retreat back into a silo mentality.  It’s never the right answer, but it’s so darn tempting sometimes!

All that to say, I’m going to suggest three simple things that we do on a regular basis that you and your team can try as well (you can start doing them as early as tomorrow!) that help us Think Orange.

We work with an end in mind

One of the things that Reggie and the rest of the Orange team talks about ALL the time is the importance of having an end in mind – of knowing where you’re going.  So, before I began conversations about “partnering” and started using Orange vocab, I chose one of the 5 Orange Principles and started there.  It’s hard to argue against having an end in mind when it comes to developing program content and strategy, so, for me, it seemed like a great place to start.

I began talking about having an “end in mind” at home to see if that language works when you’re talking to someone who doesn’t think about ministry 24/7 (crazy to consider – our spouses don’t necessarily think about ministry as much as we do!)… and, I was a little surprised, but it totally makes sense to those outside of Orange circles.  I began talking with other parents about parenting with an end in mind and found that it was an easy place to start.

From there, I began working Andy Stanley and Reggie Joiner podcasts and videos into training sessions and parenting gatherings – and I chose clips where they talked specifically about having an end in mind.  Once that principle became a part of our regular conversations – as a staff, as parents, and as families – I began introducing more orange concepts.  It was a great place to start, and I’d encourage you to consider choosing one of the 5 Essentials (I’d argue that Imagine the End is the easiest) and go from there.

We talk about being a team

It’s not uncommon to hear me end a conversation on staff by restating the reality that we’re one team.  Whether I’m talking to our Student Pastor, our bookkeeper, our Small Groups Pastor or our volunteer front-desk receptionist – I am often heard up and down the hallway of our office building talking about the team we are all a part of.  In fact, at most coffee meetings I have with other pastors and directors in the area, I try to slip in the phrase “one team” into as many conversations as I can.

I talk about our one team reality A LOT for a couple reasons.  First, it helps us live into that reality.  It’s easy to overlook rules and philosophies that are never discussed.  Do you know what kind of pesticides your church uses in the event of a bug infestation?  Most of us don’t – because we NEVER talk about those sorts of things.  It’s easy to ignore the ins and outs of church life if you aren’t talking about them – so, I make it a point to talk about being on the same team.  All.  The.  Time.  Secondly, it’s a great reality check and helps me when it comes to accountability.  When we were setting our schedule for mid-week programs this Fall, I had to remind myself over and over that our schedules needed to align with our church’s other ministries – I don’t want to start talking about being a team and have people begin to roll the eyes because I made a decision or program choice that doesn’t reflect that vision.

By talking about a unified team, a staff can begin to live into the reality of those words.  Orange isn’t something that’s easy to do alone – if you can get the rest of the players to catch the vision of being One Team, it’ll be easier to get them to catch the vision for partnering church and family together onto One Team.

I wear a stupid amount of Orange

There are days when I wish it could have been a different color.  Green maybe?  I know Green, as a color, has already been hijacked by another movement.  I totally get it.  But… Orange is just so… Orange.

Now, with that said, I love that something as simple as a piece of clothing I’m wearing on a Sunday or Wednesday can communicate an entire philosophy or, at the very least, begin a discussion about our ministry strategy with a parent or a volunteer.

An easy way to get people in your church, staff or parents, to begin asking questions about Orange is to begin wearing it.  For the first year of overhauling our strategy, I bought a pair of orange shoes and wore them to every ministry event I was in attendance at.  After a while, people began asking about them (because, seriously, Orange doesn’t match everything and stands out a bit) and I’d have a chance to talk about partnership and the direction we were heading as a ministry and as a church (one team!).  A few weeks ago, I didn’t wear orange on a Sunday and I had parents AND kids call me out – Orange has become such a part of what I talk about that families care about and notice the color of my clothes.  Wearing orange is probably the least expensive and most effective thing I’ve done to get people at our church and our community talking about Orange.

If you’re thinking about shifting things at your church to partner with families, maybe it’s worth a try?  Start wearing something Orange.

—-

For others who’ve moved Orange in the last few years, what were your first steps?

For those looking at making that shift, what questions do you have?

What did I miss?

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2011 in Kidmin, Orange

 

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Out of Left Field

Orange Week: Out of Left Field

The thing I learned at Orange that I never saw coming

When I attended my first Orange Conference a few years ago, I had a lot of expectations.

At Orange, I expected to hear amazing large group teaching from Reggie Joiner and Andy Stanley.  I knew that any breakouts led by Jim Wideman would leave me reading and re-reading my notes for days.  I expected to experience an amazing time of worship through music that resonated with me.
(one of my favorite things about being at a conference w/ youth pastors is that nobody on stage is going to ask you to do hand motions to the songs you’re singing… I can’t overstate how much I don’t like music aimed at 4 year olds at a conference for ministry leaders.  just sayin.)

However, I was given a gift at Orange that I never saw coming… and it’s changed the way I do ministry more than anything I’ve ever learned sitting in a chair – at Orange, I came for the strategy and I’ve stayed because of the friendships.

When I’m having a hard time in ministry, and don’t want to vent to someone in my local community, I know that I have a handful of people across the country that I can call, text or send a quick message to who will not only lift me up in prayer but will offer me advice as if what happens to me actually matters.  I’ve been to other conferences, but there’s something about Orange that actually lends itself to forming and encouraging lasting friendships.  When my wife had a miscarriage a little over a month ago, one of the first people that I sent a message out to was a friend I met at Orange 3 years ago.  Because I knew that part of my friend’s story is that he and his wife have miscarried in the past, and he’s also in church leadership, I knew that he would have a sense of how to pray for my family.

That first year that I went to Orange, I had to find the money to travel and attend out of my personal bank account – I didn’t have a church budget line that was going to help me get out to Atlanta.  I’m pretty sure that, if I would have told my wife that I wanted to spend our money to go make some friends who don’t live near us, she may have balked at the idea.  But even now, looking back on that trip and relationships that now exist because of Orange, I think we’d both agree that it was worth every penny we spent.  And, in all honesty, all the expectations I had about learning and growing in my faith and leadership skills were met – so, that’s always a bonus.

As I wrote in this post during the Orange Conference last year (Cheering for Each Other, Apr 28), I am struck at how having ministry friends outside of my own neighborhood greatly increases my sense of the Church-at-Large and the greater team that I’m a part of.  Because I’ve grown close to guys like Dan Scott (danscottblog.com, large group communicator extraordinaire), Matt McKee (mattmckee.me, my go to guy for all things tech and large-scale-printing related) and others at the conference, I’ve grown in my ministry skill set as well as in my own spiritual life.

Each year, before the Orange Conference, I make a point to write down on a post-it that I stick onto my wallet for the trip.  It says, “add 2 more.”  My hope and prayer, at every Orange Conference (or Orange Tour stop) that I attend, is that I make 2 more friends who will support me in ministry and life over the next year.  And, each year, God answers that prayer in greater ways than I could have ever imagined.

I never saw that coming.

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2011 in Kidmin, Orange

 

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There is No “I” in Orange

Orange Week: There is No “I” in Orange

Why Orange shouldn’t be a solo experience

I sat down for coffee yesterday with a great local Family Pastor (and friend) in the area and spent nearly 3 hours talking shop and drinking coffee.  My friend has recently expanded his staff and has hired a part-time kids’ ministry director to help lead their church in a more “Orange” direction.  Whether he’s meaning to or not, my friend is doing something brilliant this week – he’s dragging his Senior Pastor to the Orange Tour we’re hosting at our church.  He understands an extremely simple concept – There is no I in Orange.

2 years ago, our church did something that was a game-changer for the way way we minister to families.  I was able to cash in all of my chips with our Senior Pastor and talked him into coming out to Atlanta with me to attend the Orange Conference.  In fact, we were able to send a team of 5 of us – Our Senior Pastor, our High School, Middle School, and Elementary directors, and I – across the country for some team bonding and strategy conversations.  Because Orange is more than simply a curriculum, we needed as many of the players as we could in on the conversation so that we could tackle the future of kids/student/family ministry at our church with a unified vision.

Now, to be incredibly honest, that trip was the beginning of a process for us – we’re still not as Orange as I’d love for us to be.  I’ll also add that it wasn’t even that hard to get my Senior Pastor to Orange – the speaker line up that they have (and reputation they’re building) pretty much sold the conference on its own.  With that said, sitting in a room with thousands of other children’s ministry leaders AND youth pastors AND senior pastors began to help us own the fact that a) we weren’t alone in trying to revamp the strategy we use to reach families with the gospel and b) there was a network of other leaders across the country that we could lean on during our transition.

I’ve met guys and gals at Orange who walk around by themselves with their eyes the size of tangerines as they try to take in all that the conference has to offer.  Over and over, I hear them asking about how they will EVER get their Senior Pastor to catch the vision for an Orange strategy.

Friends, this might be hard to swallow, but you can’t make your church Orange on your own.  Orange is a strategy that works best when there is alignment between departments – when churches stop operating in silos and begin working as a team that believes passionately about passing the faith on to the next generation.

Here’s where there’s a bit of hope – you don’t HAVE to fly multiple people to Atlanta to get the conversation started at your church!  I know that part of why this is “Orange Week” is because this is the first week that you can register for the 2012 Orange Conference… but, today’s post isn’t even going to have a link to the registration page.  Instead, let me offer a couple steps you can try before asking your church to invest in sending a team to Orange (because, seriously, if your church is going to help you attend Orange… you shouldn’t go alone.  It’ll probably just drive you crazy as you wish your team was there with you to process what you’re learning and experiencing).

Step One: Meet Orange thinking People:
Cost: Free
How: In the world we live in, you can connect with people online in ways I could have never dreamed of a decade ago when I started out in ministry. If you don’t know where to start or who to connect with, send me a message and I’ll point you in the direction of an awesome Orange-thinking person in your area.  It’s that easy.
(you can also check out some other Orange Week bloggers HERE)

Step Two: Read Think Orange
Cost: $15 (HERE on Amazon)
Why: This book will give you the framework that an Orange strategy is going to ask you to consider.  Taking steps past this point without having this resource under your belt is going to leave you scratching your head a bunch.  And, in all honesty, if you just make it through the first couple chapters before moving on, you’ll at least be starting on the right page.

Step Three: Bring your team to an Orange Tour stop
Cost: $59
Why: The step we took before our trip to Atlanta was getting our Senior Pastor to an Orange Tour stop.  After a few hours of hearing Reggie Joiner speak, I could see our team starting to get excited about where this new strategy might take us next.  Now… we’re half way through the Tour season, but there are still stops you can make it to!

** Seattle, WA | Tuesday, September 20, 2011 –  3-hour Gathering

Bethany Community Church
8023 Green Lake Drive
Seattle, WA 98103

Los Angeles, CA | Friday, September 23, 2011 –  Full Day Event

Glenkirk Church
1700 Palopinto Avenue
Glendora, CA 91741

** Morristown, NJ | Monday, October 10, 2011 –  3-hour Gathering

Liquid Church
Morristown Hyatt
3 Speedwell Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960

** New York City Area | Tuesday, October 11, 2011 –  3-hour Gathering

Christ Tabernacle
64-34 Myrtle Avenue
Glendale, NY 11385

Charlotte, NC | Thursday, October 20, 2011 –  Full Day Event

Bethlehem Church
3100 Bethlehem Church Street
Gastonia, NC 28056

Indianapolis, IN | Tuesday, October 25, 2011 –  Full Day Event

Connection Pointe Christian Church
1800 North Green Street
Brownsburg, IN 46112

Jacksonville, FL | Friday, November 4, 2011 –  Full Day Event

The Church at Argyle
6823 Argyle Forest Boulevard
Jacksonville, FL 32244

Houston, TX | Tuesday, January 17, 2012 –  Full Day Event

Woodsedge Community Church
25333 Gosling Road
The Woodlands, TX 77389

Dallas, TX | Friday, January 20, 2012 –  Full Day Event

TBD

** Note: This is a three-hour (10:30am – 1:30pm) event focused on the Orange Strategy through the lens of Wonder, Discovery and Passion with Reggie Joiner.  The cost is $15 and includes lunch.

Step 4: The Orange Conference
Cost: $239/person (if you register THIS Thursday)
Why: Ummm… did you read the post up to this point?  Getting everyone on the same page is a big deal.  If you’re ready to make this step, it’s worth the price of admission.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2011 in Kidmin, Orange

 

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Orange Week: What’s to Come

This week, registration begins for Orange 2012.

I can’t begin to tell you how incredibly excited I am.  In fact, I’m so excited that I’m joining in on a little blog tour leading up to the opening day of registration.  To find out more about that blog tour, you can check out this link:

http://www.whatisorange.org/orangeleaders/blog/?p=5986

Over the week, I’ll be posting a series of posts in a hope to convey how Orange, as a strategy and as a conference, has shaped and reshaped the way I serve and minister to families.  I’ll be walking through the following topics this week:

Tuesday: There is No “I” in Orange: Why Orange shouldn’t be a solo experience

Wednesday: Out of Left Field: The thing I learned at Orange that I never saw coming

Thursday: Dreaming in Orange: Simple ways that we’ve become a more Orange church (and you can too!)

Friday: Orange Tour LIVE: Glenkirk is hosting the Orange Tour THIS Friday!

I’m looking forward to the week… and also looking forward to meeting a TON of Orange Thinking friends for lunch this Thursday in the LA area (details here: http://www.whatisorange.org/orangeleaders/blog/?p=5999)

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2011 in Kidmin, Los Angeles, Orange

 

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