Tag Archives: Orange

Orange Conference is less than a month away!

I can’t freaking wait. I know I am supposed to be a Southern Baptist because I work at a Southern Baptist church, and we aren’t supposed to say the word freaking, but I have been looking forward to the Orange Conference for forever it feels like.

This is THE premiere Church Leaders conference this year, I feel like. Whether your a Sr. pastor, Childrens Pastor, or Student Pastor, this conference will blow your mind. I love that the speakers are all high profile speakers, and the workshops are generally all lead by people I have heard of before.

Specifically for the Youth Pastors, I know that Simply Youth Ministry was great this last year, I enjoyed it a lot. But the number one feeling I left SYMC with was “that was cool, but it got me more excited for Orange.”

If your going to Orange, shoot me an email or a tweet so we can connect, I can’t wait to meet you all in Atlanta in a month.

If you haven’t signed up for Orange, do it now! Rates are still fairly reasonable when you compare it to other ministry conferences, and there is still plenty of hotel space left. Talk to your church, make it happen, this conference will change your ministry for the good, I know it.


When tool’s are no longer tools

One of my frustrations is that I don’t think I am a good small group teacher. Every week, I pour into a lesson, then the night comes, we go through the lesson, I ask some questions which students give answers too, and thats it. There isn’t a whole lot of conversation that comes from the lesson. But every week, with out fail, we close in prayer and say Amen, and then discussion starts about who knows what.

Last night, we got, somehow, on the topic of tracts. Now I personally am extremely against tracts. I think one of the reasons why I hate them is because of living in Lynchburg, VA the last 4 or 5 years, and just seeing how waiters and waitresses hated working on Sunday afternoons because the church folk would come out and instead of leaving a tip, they would leave a tract.

I think the main reason why I hate them, though, is because to me they symbolize the weakness of the american church when it comes to discipleship, because in essence, when most people give out a tract, they are saying to the person receiving it “Here, Go save yourself. Good luck with the rest of life.”

What’s frustrating about that is that the great commission doesn’t say “Go out and make converts” but rather it says “Go and make disciples.” Handing someone a tract is something that people do if they are trying to just get people saved and then they move on.

So I hate tracts with a passion.

But as I am explaining this to our students, my wife butts in to tell of how her Mother got saved because of a tract. But she also noted that it wasn’t just the tract that saved her, but the people who gave her the tract went through it with her, and invited her to church and to their home.

See for this couple that saved my mother-in-law, a tract served a purpose for their discipleship, it led to a further conversation. But for many who hand out tracts, this idea is foreign.

So it got me thinking about the idea that maybe its not necessarily tracts that I hate, but the fact that people don’t know how to use them that I hate. And that got me going on one of the buzzwords that has been going around youth ministry the last decade or so: Programs.

If you have read anything Youth Ministry related since 2000, you have read how evil programs are and we need to get rid of them. The Pizza nights don’t serve a purpose and aren’t making any converts or disciples. “What you save people with is what you save people to.” You know what I am talking about.

But if my mother-in-law got saved with a tract, shouldn’t she still be only reading tracts?

I get the notion of that saying, I do. But I also think, maybe we are just a little off with that sort of thinking. Maybe we need to realize that there are tools we can use to get people saved. But if something doesn’t have a clear purpose behind it to move that person to the next level, then yeah, we are just saving them to that level.

So if a tract has a purpose of starting a conversation to open doors for other conversations, then it has a purpose. If we just hand someone a tract and walk away praying “God let them see you in that tract” then yeah, maybe we have great faith, but we really aren’t being purposeful.

In that same way, If I am having a Pizza night to bring in students who don’t come to my ministry so that I can build a relationship with them and get them back to a regular youth service, then I think Pizza Nights are great tools. But if the Pizza Night is the end of the line, If I get up and think “this is my one chance to reach these kids, I better preach the heck out of them right now,” then I would say thats a bad purpose. I’m not pouring into them, I’m just hoping to get them to say a prayer and then maybe they will come back.

I don’t know if that resonates with you. But these are just the thoughts I get challenged with after hanging out with my students.

Evaluating Youth Programs

When was the last time you did a thorough evaluation of your Youth Ministry?

For some, it could be almost a year since you last got away to spend a few days evaluating the the purposes of your youth ministry, the vision, the direction, etc.

Others do a quick evaluation after each service.

I think both have strengths, but both work best when your doing both. I think it’s very healthy to once a year take a few days retreat by yourself or with a team to really evaluate. But waiting a year to evaluate isn’t healthy, you should be evaluating a lot more often, whether its a quick little 5 point check after each service or a bit lengthier of a process once a month with your leadership team, evaluation is a must in ministry.

I’d like to say the most important question a Youth Pastor can ask himself when it comes to evaluation programs is “Does it accomplish our purposes?” but firstly, I hate making such bold claims, I’m sure someone else could come up with a more important question to ask, but I will contend that this one is up there. Secondly, though, in order to ask that question, a Youth Pastor has to know what his purposes are first.

If you don’t know what you want/need to accomplish, then your not going to have any idea on how to judge whether an event is helping our hindering your achievement.

I read a phenomenal analogy in the book ” 7 practices of Effective Ministry” by Stanley, Joiner, and Jones, in which one of the authors described talking to his son about his batting average in little league, how just because he hit the ball didn’t mean his average was going to go up. All baseball players know, the point of hitting the ball is progress either yourself or a teammate from one base to another and, eventually, to home plate. You can hit the ball as hard as you want, but if it doesn’t result in advancing you or a teammate to the next base, its ineffective and pointless.

A lot of Youth Ministries live in the mindset of “I’m hitting the ball, were doing good!” Its awesome that your having great crowds come to your services, its awesome your building great friendships with the students, but if its not advancing them further in spiritual maturity, whats the point?

It’s so easy to miss the purpose. We can hide behind the “traditional” Wednesday night youth service and others can assume we have purpose, but I hope more youth pastor’s will open their eyes and see that there is so much more. Don’t equate busyness with purpose. Your students deserve more than that. Your students NEED more than that.

Why Orange?

Why am I so excited about the Orange strategy? Whats so great about it?

I think it goes back to when I was in High School. I know I have probably shared this story before, but it’s true. It’s shaped my philosophy of Youth Ministry, and it made me Orange before Orange even came about.

I lived in Central California from my sophomore year in High School until April of my Sr. year in High School, and during that time, was a part of the greatest youth group ever. We had a whole mess of kids coming on Sunday Nights and Wednesday Nights for Sr. High and just as much on Sunday mornings and Thursday nights for Jr. High.

The Sr. High had a student leadership team larger than many youth groups, and we were a super close knit group of kids. Most of us did practically everything together. Most of us only dated within the Leadership team (even though, technically, that was against the rules if I remember? Oh well, nothing new that High Schoolers break rules).

I say all this to say, I look back on those friends I had, and sure, a Handful of them still are connected to a church, but I also know that many of them aren’t. Many of those students could care less about God or Christianity.

And it has been super tough for me since I started working with youth as a part timer almost 6 years ago. I’ve often struggled with the question of what happened? I mean, I know that several of the guys, specifically, had the same small group I did, same small group leader, same Youth Pastor, same Lessons Sunday Night and Wednesday Night, same one on one times with the youth pastor, same leadership team. We had the same training and up bringing in that youth group, yet what was the difference that kids who , Honestly, were far more on fire in High School than I was are now so disconnected from church/God, and I’m in youth ministry. And please dont hear me wrong, I am not saying “Oh look at me I’m in Youth Ministry and they aren’t” but I truly am burdened with that many nights.

The only answer I know of is the parents. I know that many of those kids parents went to church, but I also know many of those parents considered the discipleship making of the Youth Pastor good enough.

I know that for me, it was always far more my Parents teaching and Discipleship that was then echoed by my youth pastor in a lesson that made the difference.

And thats why Family Ministry has been so important to me, and thats why I love Orange. Orange is so much more than just a book telling you why Family Ministry is important. Ultimately, you need to realize that on your own if its truly going to change the way you do ministry.

But for me, I love Orange because it takes this simple idea I’ve had since high school and gives me so much practical stuff to help in Family Ministry. The tools they offer, the curriculum they offer – its just phenomenal. I know I have talked it up a lot this week and its probably getting old. But Honestly, if you have never looked at their website, DO IT! It won’t take long for you to see how great their stuff is.

Break outs at conferences

This is a season of conferences coming up. I’ve been registering for several the last few days (SYMC in Chicago, Transformational Church in NC, and the Orange Conference) and part of registering for conferences is looking at what break out sessions or workshops are going to be available.

In all honesty, none of the full or half tracks at SYMC yelled at me “Attend this” and I’m going to be primarily sticking with the workshops. But the Orange conference has me super excited for several workshops, and I think one of the reasons is because they have some great speakers at the workshops (ones I have heard of, more so) offering workshops on different concepts and giving practical advice.

I think two that I am looking forward to the most are the ones by Mark Matlock (who they haven’t even announced the topic of the workshops yet, I just know they are going to be good because of what I know about Matlock and his heart for you) and the workshops on what Orange looks like for the teen years hosted by Jeremy Zach. Both of these guys are great, and I am so excited to learn from them and meet them. If you don’t recognize those names, I highly suggest for you to check them out. Mark Matlock heads up Planet Wisdom tour and Jeremy Zach runs reyouthpastor.com

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