Notes from #OC18 Main Stage 1 & 2: Jon Acuff, Gerald Fadayomi, Danielle Strickland, Reggie Joiner, Doug Fields, Andy Stanley


We Can Do More Together

Jon Acuff

“It’s easier to say something than to do something.”

How do you beat shame? Relationships. 

We can do more sounds like an order. Together, changes this. 

You can be “we” without being together. 

“Together means putting aside our small stories for a bigger story.” 

What happens when you tap into the potential of what kids are really like? 

@JonAcuff #OC18

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Gerald Fadayomi

If you could only pray for one thing for the next generation, what would it be?

We can do more together…When we treat each other like the next generation is watching. 

“We look at children and know they can do more. We believe in the next generation.” 

Jesus prayed for Unity. John 17, that we would be one. 

Jesus could have prayed for anything for the future church. He prayed for unity.

Jesus knew that a fractured church could not united a divided nation. 

Our unity affects His credibility. 

37M churches 2.2B Christians. 

Can you imagine what could happen if we started moving in the same direction? 

A united church is a culture-shaping church. 

Unity is not uniformity. It’s setting our differences aside to make a difference. Finding a common ground for the common good. The realization that we can do more together. 

@GeraldFadayomi #OC18

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Danielle Strickland

“The thing to do is to grab the kingdom of God and start living that future now.”

“Wake up! Jesus is knocking. We’re better together if we live the future now.” Danielle Strickland

@djstrickland #OC18


Reggie Joiner

We can do more together when we keep doing what seems impossible. 

It’s not what you build that matters. It’s what happens in you. It’s what happens to you. 

How we work together will change how a generation sees God. 

When we look around in our communities…name what is broken. 

“If we as leaders don’t do something about what is broken in our community we forfeit the right to have influence in our community.”

“If we as leaders don’t do something about what’s broken in our communities, we forfeit our credibility.” 

We are responsible regardless of our position. 

How can you leverage what you have? 

“Leverage whatever status, influence, resource, privilege we have for those around us.”

Proximity changes perspective. 

“If you want to be the leader that you need to be in this generation, you’ll have to go see for yourself sometimes.”

“If you’re not getting close enough, you’re not going to be the caring and empathetic leader that you need to be.”

“Everybody Nehemiah needed to rebuild was already in the town.”

“Nehemiah put parents in the gaps in the walls to fight for their families.”

“When you see moms and dads standing the gap fighting for their sons and daughters, it’s a different kind of battle.” 

Nehemiah made the parent the champion. Think about how the kids will remember this. 

“Don’t stop doing the work you’re doing together. It matters.” 

“You keep doing what seems impossible, and you’ll do more than you’ve ever done. Then expect to see God, but not the God you expected.“

@reggiejoiner #OC18



Doug Fields

We can do more together when we recognize we can’t get there on our own. 

When I go to dark and lonely places I forget this principle, we is greater than I. 

“Healthy discipleship requires leaders to play together.” 

When we work closer together, there is a greater chance of discipleship, a greater chance of faith development. 

“What makes you a team is when you rely on one another.” 

“If you want to transform your church culture, rely on one another, believe that we is greater than I.” 

@DougFields #OC18

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Reggie Joiner

We can do more together when we speak up for those who are marginalized. 

“If traffickers can target vulnerable girls for trafficking, why can’t the church target vulnerable girls for redemption?” @djstrickland 

“One of the first ways you participate in injustice is to choose not to see it.”

Want to know how to help empower vulnerable girls? Start here:

“There’s nothing that forges unity more than mission.” #OC18  @djstrickland

@reggiejoiner #OC18


Andy Stanley

We can do more together when we lead the church to stay focused on what matters. 

What’s the faith of the next generation worth? Everything!

You don’t have to go to church to hear preaching…it’s on demand. 

“When you lead as a team with one voice…what matters most matters more.” @reggiejoiner #OC18

Once upon a time, one won. 

One: Jesus modeled it. Everyone was welcomed. People who were nothing like Jesus, liked Jesus. 

“The one thing we all have in common is that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

“Of all the things that Jesus could pray for, He prayed for our oneness.”

“Unity is mission critical and more important than theological correctness. We are defined by the way we love one another.”

The One Another List:

Forgive one another.

Accept one another.

Care for one another.

Encourage one another.

Submit to one another.

Restore one another.

Carry one another’s burdens

Bear with one another.

We are to one another, one another 

“Imagine a world where people were skeptical of what we believed but envious of how well we treated one another.”

“God does not show favoritism.” 

“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” – Acts 15:19

Let’s not make it unnecessarily difficult to believe in Jesus.

“Concessions are legitimate for the sake of peace.” 

Are you more concerned about who’s in office than who’s in heaven?

“Will we prioritize oneness over our politics?” 

ONE is an invitation to embrace the one thing we all have in common. 

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

@AndyStanley #OC18an173-efeb3e88-0967-4ffa-ac9f-7c2a1a06b77f-v2

You Lead Lab Notes from The Orange Conference #OC18

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Building A Comprehensive Plan From Birth To College by Cindy Fiala

 “Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.” Deuteronomy 7:9

A thousand generations just because someone said yes. What you do matters! 

Watch out for ADOP: Attention deficit ohhh pretty 

Perspective: Sometimes don’t appear as they really are. From the outside things can look great but it’s all about perspective. 

Forced Perspective: a technique which employs optical illusion to make an object appear farther away, closer, larger or smaller than it actually is. 

Forced perspective in our ministries or life only creates an illusion of what’s real, true, and reliable. 

With a few steps, we can create a desired destination that everyone and every system can lead kids and students to a unified common end in mind. 

Blameless Autopsy: By creating clarity and common vision you eliminate the vision vacuum of forced perspective. 

Take a step back and take a hard look at every part of our ministry. Without emotion, defense, blame. A scientific standpoint. 

Clarity and unity trumps everything. 

Church Unique: “The answer is having a vision that oozes, that is original, organic, zeroed in, and extravagant. When leaders start thinking clearly, engaging locally, focusing redemptively, and risking boldly, their church becomes an unstoppable force and an irresistible influence.” Will Mancini  

What are we looking for in a Blameless Autopsy: 

Do we have one common end in mind in the totality of family ministry? 

Do you have a strategy or plan to get kids and students on a discipleship pathway? 

Are your teams aligned? 

Do you have consistent small groups?

Are you successfully partnering with parents?

Do you have good age grade transitions?

Are you celebrating milestones?

Are you mobilize students to serve inside and outside?

Are we being strategic to equip parents?

“Does your family ministry strategy align with your church strategy, vision, and mission?” 

Do you have silos? 

Have you set down and decided your values? Values are how people behave. 

Values will create your culture. 

Do you fight for the relationship?
Do parents know their roles? 

Are you in the weekly weeds of programming?
If you have a strategy, how well are you executing it? 

OC18CindyStrategy: The Five Essentials

Aligned Leaders

Engage Parents

Elevate Community

Refine the Message

Influence Service 

The Method of BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goals.

Do you have a consistent NextGen meeting EVERY week:

30-minute meeting:

Win and story from this week? 

What are you working on?

Where are you stuck? (Connect offline)

5 minutes per person on the team to share.

Longer form meetings:

Work on the business, not in the business. 

Is someone on the NextGen team on the leadership team? 

One Voice: Church vision and strategy + Nextgen vision and strategy = Integrated strategy for 1000 generations. 

Life transformation happens in circles. A place where we can be authentic. 

What is regular attendance? Frederick Colorado is .8x a month. 

Everything we teach in early childhood they will ask questions about in middle school and high school. We must build a foundation. 

Help them learn how to interpret the word. Help the truth connect to their heart. 

Are we creating consistent opportunities for kids to serve both inside and outside of the church? 

Book Recommendation: Comprehensive guide to family ministry by Diana Garland 

If a kid has multiple voices speaking in their live year after year and if that same student is serving alongside adults 98% will stick. But we don’t start this their senior year. 

Last Step: Put it all together. More than just our nextgen team. From the parking lot to the main platform, everyone in the church needs to know what your goal is for every student in your ministry. Know what the win is. 

What is the goal? A High School student will graduate living life on mission with a heart that belongs, a mind that responds, and a life that reflects Jesus Christ long after they launch. 

This goal informs our message, it informs how we speak to volunteers and everything we do or choose not to do. Allows us to have quick yes’s and gracious no’s. 

Jim Collins: The Hedgehog Concept

The Hedgehog Concept is developed in the book Good to Great. A simple, crystalline concept that flows from deep understanding about the intersection of three circles: 1) what you are deeply passionate about, 2) what you can be the best in the world at, and 3) what best drives your economic or resource engine. Transformations from good to great come about by a series of good decisions made consistently with a Hedgehog Concept, supremely well executed, accumulating one upon another, over a long period of time. 

You can’t over-communicate vision!

Verbally, every time you meet. 

Through our actions and decisions

Printed materials

Social media

Automated messaging in your environments

EntreLeadership Podcast

#229: Dina Dwyer-Owens—Why Values Matter – 

In every conversation you have you need to lead with your vision and lead with your values. Lead with your why.

Think of family ministry as a vehicle. All moving in the same direction. If a tire comes off the car is done. If a tire is flat we all feel it. We all have to be rolling together and in sync together. 

Free Resource: Creating Environments that help parents and kids fell welcomed! Text 1000GEN to 444999


Discovering What Volunteers Really Want by Darren Kizer

Maybe I’m the problem? Maybe I need help to help volunteers to join the team? 

Leverage the opportunity to invite others onto the team. 

Always be answering the question: Is it worth it? Until we are consistently answering this question, we will never have enough volunteers. 

What a volunteer needs in preschool is different than what they need when working with Junior Highers. 

What do volunteers really want? And the bigger question is what do I need to do in order to give what they need? 

1. Owner vs. Renter

Volunteers want to follow a great leader. 

Think through a rental car. A whole attitude and mindset change. Your volunteers will sense your attitude and know if this is a rental gig for you or if you have fully bought in. Is it for the long haul? Are you working on something significant? 

Is this worth it? If it’s worth your all then it will be worth their extra. If your full-time gig ain’t worth your full time then how in the world will you get them to make an extra part-time thing become worth it? 

2. Right place vs. A place.

They want to serve in a place that fits. 

Honest and brave enough to not place them in a bad fit. 

You have a limited number of volunteers. If you get them wrong they will do their time and then leave. Every time you use a guilt card you will get volunteers but they will do the minimum and then they are gone. They will feel like they did their time and have checked it off. 

It takes extra work but will create the culture for future success. Renter vs owner is the difference between fixing a pipe vs putting duct-tape on the leak. Volunteers will either tell their friends to join or warn their friends to avoid your ministry. Make sure they are in the right place, even if it’s in a different department. The win is they stayed in your church, not in your area. It’s going to hurt you now but in the long run, it will pay off big. 

Elevate the culture of trading volunteers to find the right fit for the individual, not the ministry. Lead the way in making them win. 

3. Meaningful training vs. meaningless training

If they are skipping date night, missing a recital, or leaving the house, then you need to make it worth it, every time. 

It’s easier for me to demand a meeting then for me to figure out what they need in the comfort of their own home. It takes more work as the leader to communicate the same things to them without dragging them out of their homes. 

When you gather them together with your volunteers better be better spouses, parents, and employees. Because they attend your training they should be getting promotions at work. 

Leverage your connections to give them the best training. Who are the HR experts? Who can you bring in for 15 minutes to better navigate their role both in and outside the church? Invite them to your next training. 

Training for broken systems does not work. Don’t train them how to use the broken copier, fix it. 

4. They want authentic community. 

Make sure every volunteer has a friend. 

With your teams, help them schedule their time and frequency so that when volunteers are showing up they are calm and present to build relationships. 

Are you creating a culture where tasks are more important than relationships? Model authentic community. 

But, what’s the question for NextGen Leaders?

As a NextGen pastor, your “volunteers” are often your team. Would they volunteer for you? Do they feel “It is so worth it?”

We as nextgen leaders can make a terrible mistake and believe that recruiting volunteers is somebody else’s role. We have to model to our team and staff how to lead with care, concern, and love. Would your staff members volunteer for you if they were not an under an employment contract? Would they want to hang out with you? Is your relationship bridge strong enough? Would they follow your vision? 

If you default to the boss and employee relationship with your staff then your staff will default to boss and volunteer with their team. My job is to make sure you have the tools to reach the mission. 


Actions Steps for nextgen pastors on a day to day basis. 

Ask: Is it worth it?

Architect an irresistible volunteer culture. 

Go volunteer in the community and see how it makes you feel as a volunteer. Find out what is in it for you as the volunteer. Discover how to teach this in your volunteer culture. 

Protect the culture with ruthless love. 

Budget. In the decisions that get made, make sure the volunteer culture is protected. If you lose your volunteers, this place is done. We are 100% dependent on the volunteers and making this change will cause them to feel like volunteer isn’t worth it. A bad experience sticks with volunteers, protect them with ruthless love.

Fight your way up the ladder. Sometimes you need to give another option or scenario where the church can win. Sometimes you need to draw the line and come up with a solution. Fighting to protect the culture in the long term is greater than the weekend event. Don’t sacrifice. 

Model Ito your staff (and friends). If you want your staff to be building relationships then model it to them by hanging out with them without an agenda. Make sure they have what they need to get the work done. It’s not okay to show up and figure it out while the volunteers are standing around, troubleshoot beforehand. 

Reinforce that small groups must win. ALL volunteers are important and have value. Small groups must win. The small group leader is not the most important but the small group experience is. You are not winning if small groups are not winning. All pieces work together to make small groups win. The further they are away from the small group experience the more energy you will need to help them win. Share small group stories with the parkers so they know how they are winning in the big picture. 


Creating A Volunteer Strategy For Getting It All Done by Mike Park

As a NextGen leader, you’ve been entrusted with creating an environment where great ministry can happen. 

You’ve been really good at making cookies, but now you need to make a cookie business. 

The secret of NextGen ministry: We Need People. 

Exodus 18:17, “Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you are doing is not good.”

Gather leaders and give responsibility.

How do we as nextgen leaders create great environments for our people? 

Great nextgen leaders ask great questions. Great questions lead to greater clarity, better strategy, and clearer vision. 

How do we communicate when we delegate? 

Small Tasks vs. Big Asks

Small tasks are the what, the how, the can you just go give juice to the preschoolers. We think if we give small tasks it will be easy and we will get more help. When we do a big ask we are talking about caring for and hydrating the next generation. Pouring this juice may help change the world for Jesus. When you pour juice you get to do it alongside a middle school and will have a great conversation. You can become a significant voice in the life of that middle schooler. Are we letting them know they are a part of something bigger. The smaller the task, the bigger the ask has to feel because the smaller the task the smaller the more insignificant they will feel. 

What you do is important. If you don’t do the sound right then the student does not get to hear the message that will change their lives forever. Paint a great vision of what the job looks like and more so what that job means. 

What can you invite people to be a part of? Maybe your leaders aren’t committed because you haven’t 

Is your Organization Chart helping or hurting your ministry? 

Leading it All vs. Leading in layers

Layered Leadership:
Accountability through shared responsibility.
Clear roles and responsibilities.
Better care and accountability
Increase two-way communication.
Systematic feedback and evaluation. 

When you layer leadership it creates space. People will imitate what you as the leader will celebrate. If you want to promote a welcoming hospitality celebrate it. Don’t just let it be the student pastor that oversees the volunteers, maybe you need a coach for middle school and another coach for the middle school. Create a structure where volunteers can flourish.

OC layers

How are we developing those we lead? 

What if instead of training we created a coaching program? What if someone was in the life of the volunteer, speaking into them on a regular basis? Help them process what went right and what went wrong. Help them know what a win is and if they are doing a good job. 

Instead of creating more training meetings create more training relationships. Take the seasoned people in your ministry and help point their attention to the new leaders. On a weekly basis, walk with them and coach them on how to lead a group. 

A Coaching Model:

Assigns ministry mentors
Offers regular support and praise
Conveys expectations
Sets milestones
Track growth. 

What’s our plan for advancement? 

When leaders come into your ministry, excited to serve and they see the vision under a great coach, what’s next for them? 

Who is the young person you are pouring into, and investing in for the next generation? 

Empowerment: The authority to make key decisions at critical moments. 

Retaining Volunteers vs. Empowering Leaders

Do we need to just get it all done while running on a hamster wheel? Did any of us go into ministry because we are excited about filling in spreadsheets? 

Everyone is in this room because someone empowered us to lead. Someone gave us the authority to make key decisions at key moments, probably even when we were not ready to make that decision. Who can you, as the nextgen leader, can you empower? Write down three names of people in your church that you want to empower. 


Keys to Empowering Leaders

Keep your Focus on the Big Picture
Sort your Priorities and Let Go of the Trivial
Let Go of Perfection and Redefine Failure

You are tasked to create excellence across the board, but what if you look at excellence differently? What if excellence was empowering your team? 

There is a line that goes from birth through college and NextGen leaders own the line. How can we help our high school pastor own the line just as much as the preschool pastor? 

What are the things that only you can do? What are you doing that you could empower someone else to do? Maybe only you are able to sit with a family through a significant loss. If that’s you, do that well. 

Let’s say things are going well but your team is burnt out or their families are falling apart. Yeah, you hit your marks, but are you winning? Failure is when you create an environment that burns people out, where they don’t make time for God, where the people aren’t cared for. In the end, we need to love our people. John 13, love one another as I have loved you. 

“The task of the church is to serve as the best example of what God can do with human community.” Stanley Hauerwas 

What if our volunteers believed they were a part of this best example of what God can do with human community? 


Volunteer Innovation Lab For NextGen Leaders by Nina Schmidgall

When we are talking about volunteer strategy for getting it all done, and managing a lot of teams, 

Every six months 40-50% turnover in volunteers because of the transient population of D.C. Assimilation of volunteers quickly becomes very important. 

Your ministry will never be perfect and neither will the people who lead it. 

We go through seasons, keep this in mind. 

Failure is doing everything yourself because you have a fear of others disappointing you. This fails to develop leaders and fails to create long-term ministry. 

Don’t Quit Book: A healthy team is one that has a clear direction.

The reason people start volunteering in ministry is usually different than the reason they continue serving. 

Make volunteers feel a part of something. At Nina’s church, all volunteers wear a branded t-shirt. If you lead a team you get a fancy zip up. 

The fifth Sunday of every month is Sunday Funday and they suspend curriculum and play. Moments together with the small group leader and inviting their friends. Hats for Sunday Funday to feel a part of something and celebrated. 

The Volunteer Project: Stop Recruiting Start Retaining by Darren Kizer:

Single location vs multi-site location differences. 


Start: What’s one thing you must start doing? 

Stop: What’s one thing you must stop doing?

Improve: What’s one thing you must improve?

What is the most difficult volunteer role for you to fill?

What is your biggest barrier to improving the volunteer culture or experience in your ministry? an173-efeb3e88-0967-4ffa-ac9f-7c2a1a06b77f-v2

3 Easy Tips to Prepare for #OC18 like an Expert

orange blog

Are you ready for The Orange Conference? I’m not just asking if you’ve purchased your ticket. I’m checking to see if you are really ready for all this conference has to offer. Do some work today so you are prepared to leave, learn, and return with all that God has in store for you. 

Prepare to Take Off: Make a List 

Open up your phone or pull out a notepad and begin your Orange Conference list. Write down everything you need to do to be away. Items might include:

  • select breakouts
  • download the OC18 app
  • read the welcome pack
  • follow speakers and bloggers on social media
  • create your shopping list for the Orange Store. 

These are great items to prepare for the conference, but also add items to the list that help you prepare to be away. Include things like:

  • schedule a date with your spouse before leaving town
  • prepare all materials and volunteers for the following Sunday
  • book hotel
  • turn on an autoresponder for your email
  • find someone to feed the cat 

You could also add fun items to your Orange Conference list such as:

  • purchase orange shoes
  • schedule some networking meetings
  • select restaurants nearby
  • create specific questions you could ask to see what’s working for other leaders across the world.  

Prepare to Take In: Write Notes 

We have all been there before where we hear a great idea but two seconds later the idea is lost forever. Don’t allow this to happen to you by figuring out today how you will write notes at the conference. Maybe you buy a new Moleskin, bring your laptop, or swing by CFA and grab a handful of napkins. Take notes that fit your style and can be referred to after you get home. Write down quotes that impact your thinking. Take pictures to help you remember. Follow #OC18 and see what those around you are writing. Consider sharing your notes online to help others hear what you are learning. And if you write down a next step for you then make sure you circle it, highlight it, or email it to yourself for later. 

Prepare to Take Home: Schedule Time 

If you want to prepare for The Orange Conference like a true expert, you need to schedule a time to digest the materials once you arrive home. Look at your calendar and schedule a few blocks of time where you can review your notes and determine the areas where God is speaking to you. Also, mark a few calendar appointments to actually read the books you purchased while visiting the Orange Store.

There are many amazing ideas shared at the conference and you will need time and discernment to listen for your next steps. After you have decided what your top priorities are and what ideas you will shelf for later, bring these ideas to your team and create a strategy to move forward. You could even schedule this team meeting now to take place in the weeks following the conference. 

Make sure you plan ahead to get the most out of this year’s conference. What would you add? How do you prepare? 

(Originally posted to Orange Leaders at:

How the Orange Conference Changes My Perspective Every Year



Did you walk away from your last conference changed? Every year, the Orange Conference has a theme where speakers look at the same topic from different angles to help attendees gain a changed perspective. Over the years we have been taught to “Say yes to the next generation,” “It’s just a phase, don’t miss it,” “Monday is coming,” and “To be for our neighbors.” These themes have radically impacted my life and ministry.

In addition to these themes, each year God has spoken a word to my heart that shifts my outlook.

an173-9b2456b8-47b0-41a1-bddb-a952c92327f3-v2In 2014, I walked away knowing that I needed to work on myself. In order for me to say yes to the next generation, I needed to be a better example and leader.

“The biggest leadership challenge I have is me.” – Jeff Henderson

“Every book you read is worth 2 years of life experience.” – Mark Batterson

“Competency isn’t the issue. Character is.” – Carey Nieuwhof

“Leaders, ask yourself, ‘What is it like to be on the other side of me?’ ‘How are you to work for?’” – Jeff Henderson

“You replace yourself by developing others, not by replicating yourself.” – Jeff Henderson

“It’s ok to not be ok, but it’s not ok to stay that way.” Parry Noble


In 2015, I was challenged to know and act like every week matters. It’s just a phase, don’t miss it, helped me see not only the development of each of the kids but that I was missing opportunities to make an impact with each Sunday.

“100 years from now, the only thing that will matter is a kid’s relationship with God.” – Reggie Joiner

“If you’re the parent of a 9th grader, you only have about 200 weeks left before graduation. Make it count.” – Reggie Joiner

“Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story.” – Josh Shipp

“Children’s leaders, you aren’t keeping kids so that adults can go to church. You’re discipling children who will be the Church.” – Reggie Joiner

“Small Group Leaders, there is great power that comes with showing up every week.” – Reggie Joiner


In 2016, I realized that I was so worried about filling the kids with the head knowledge that I missed what mattered most. Monday is coming helped me see that I was teaching in a way that kids forgot the moment they left the room. I must connect Sunday to Monday.

“It’s not a question of: Will Sunday impact Monday? It already does. The question is: Will we be part of that conversation?“—Jon Acuff

“It’s not: How to we get them to come to us on Sunday? It’s: How do we go to them on Monday?“—Jon Acuff

“On Sunday, grace is expected. On Monday, grace is a surprise.”—Jon Acuff

“Following Jesus will make your life better and will make you better at life.”—Andy Stanley

“When it comes to my personal connection to the local church, it’s simple: the Church saved my life.”—Andy Stanley


And last year, 2017, I walked away realizing that I allowed busyness to get in the way of loving my neighbor. I must be like Jesus and invest my time in those who are different than me.

“Instead of seeing busyness as a badge of honor, maybe we should see it as a brokenness.” — Doug Fields.

“Some of your neighbors feel like you don’t love them because you act like you don’t like them.” —Reggie Joiner

“If there’s any entity that should lead the way in treating everyone like they’re invited to the party, it should be the church.” —Reggie Joiner

“Young people can download thoughtful preaching but they can’t download thoughtful mentoring.” —Kara Powell

“You can’t dismiss people and be in love with God.” — Andy Stanley

“Your love for God is demonstrated and authenticated by how we treat those around us.” — Andy Stanley

“We’ve got to stop acting like discipleship is about information, and realize discipleship is about relationship.” —Reggie Joiner

“Busy is the enemy of neighborly.” — Doug Fields


Now is the time to register for the next Orange Conference. I really hope to see you there!

Sign up and begin praying today to not only be move through the theme but also open yourself up for God to speak to your soul. REGISTER BY FEBRUARY 15 TO SAVE $50!

Register Now for #OC18 – We Can Do More Together


“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.” – Mother Teresa

Momentum is never an accident. It happens when everyone on the team is moving together in ONE direction. If you want momentum you have to stay focused, clear, and synchronized about what matters most.

When you lead as a team with ONE VOICE…What matters most matters more.

When you lead as a team with ONE VOICE…Parent and volunteers move in the same direction.

When you lead as a team with ONE VOICE…Your core message becomes clearer and louder.

When you lead as a team with ONE VOICE…What you do every week makes a greater impact.

When you lead as a team with ONE VOICE…The next generation wins!

There is a unique kind of momentum that happens when everyone in a church leads together as ONE VOICE. OC18 will be an opportunity to re-imagine the potential you can have as ONE VOICE

“Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” Romans 12:4-5 (NLT)

Register today to join me at this year’s Orange Conference in Atlanta, April 25-27. 



Bonus: Enjoy a #OC18 phone backdrop!
Click for Blue
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The Tangibles and Intangibles of an Excellent Preteen Environment​


The moment you walk in the door you begin to judge the atmosphere of any business. If you walk into a coffee shop you are trying to find where you place your order and what coffee options are available. You begin judging whether or not you will ever return based on the tangible things you see, taste, and experience as well as the intangible things you feel, smell, and hear. The same is true with the preteens that walk in our preteen environments. We might not have full control over the smells in the room, but we must do our part to create an engaging, affirming, and irresistible preteen environment.

Think About Your First Impression

As a preteen navigates your church, are you helping them find where to go with clear signage? And as they walk into your preteen environment, does the atmosphere communicate that you were expecting them? Walk through your environment and think about the seen and unseen obstacles a ten-year-old will be experiencing. Or better yet, talk with one and ask them about what they saw and felt. First impressions go beyond the first moment that someone walks through your doors. Have you ever gone to a restaurant and had a great experience up until the point the food was served? Think through how you cue a preteen throughout the service and help them understand what is about to happen. Do your part to help them feel comfortable as a visitor from the moment they pull onto campus until they are talking with their parents on the way home.

Create a Safe Place

Look around your preteen area to see if there is anything broken, outdated, or out of place and do your part to clean it up and keep it safe. When you walk into a department store and see the merchandise scattered on the shelves or a drink spilled in the aisle, you might turn around and walk out. Deep down you know it was a customer that made the mess, but you still wonder why the workers have failed to create an excellent environment for shopping. Your preteens might not ever need policies and procedures for things like an active intruder, but these must still be outlined and explained to leaders. The students might not see everything that has happened behind the scenes to keep them safe, but they will surely find out if it’s missing.

Design an Atmosphere That Lends Itself to Returning

Early every morning people faithfully return to their fitness center because they know that it’s both helpful and healthy. Are you communicating to preteens and their families the benefits of regularly attending church? And when they show up, are you helping them take their next step or are you trying to pile on too much and making them feel overwhelmed? In a fitness center there are people of varying degrees of health, but yet they all come to the same place to take their next step. In our preteen environments, we must realize we have different levels of health and lead small in such a way that we help each preteen continue to grow. We can do this through sharing a gospel truth through a game or fun illustration, by asking compelling questions, or by coming alongside preteens to help them discover the truth on their own.

The tangible and intangible environment you are creating for preteens will determine the success of your preteen ministry. Work at creating an excellent environment that preteens will come back to week after week.

(Originally posted the Orange 252 Kids blog at



Book Review & 2 Book Giveaway: Don’t Quit by Jessica Bealer & Gina McClain


Hey ministry leaders! Have you checked out this brand new book—Don’t Quit: The Best Things in Ministry Come Over Time. This is the latest leadership book from Orange and I want you to check it out.

Share this post on social media and I’ll send two lucky winners a copy of the new book! 

Here are some of my favorite quotes to give you a taste of the great content:

“At times, you will question your calling, but don’t sacrifice your mission for the security of the easily maintained. Take a risk and watch God move.”

“Every action you take, every event you host, and every procedure you have in place is your strategy in action. If your strategy is not moving you closer to your goal, then the strategy is not working.”

“God has big plans for His church and He’s willing to use anyone to accomplish them. The only requirement is obedience.”

“Limitations don’t have to be negative. Many times, they can be catalysts for creativity.”

“Unrealistic expectations paired with a fear of failure make for a disastrous combination, a dumpster fire waiting to happen.”

“Creating a common language that both conveys your values and unites your team is deceivingly hard. To be memorable, it has to be clear, easy to say, founded in vision, purposeful, and have a touch of cleverness.”

“God never intends to leave you where you are. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s time to start looking for another job. What I mean is that you should be consistently growing in wisdom, discernment, knowledge, and capacity. A great leader is never content with the status quo.”

“You’ve got to own your development, set your pace, get accountability, and invite inspiration.”

“Awareness of growth opportunities means you will be prepared to respond when God is moving in the heart of your volunteer. Knowing when a leader is ready for more is great. Knowing where you can give them more is strategic.”

“We don’t lead in a bubble. When we decide to stick our heads in the sand and pretend we don’t need to grow, everyone around us suffers. But when we choose to remain on the wall—to face what needs to be faced, open ourselves up, and become ridiculously teachable—those we lead are inspired to do the same. Grit is contagious.”





Camp KidJam: A Valuable Gift for Your Church



Does your summer camp contribute the strategy of your church? Are you looking for a camp solution that your students will love, and your small group leaders will love even more? Last year, I explored Camp KidJam and found it to be the complete package I was looking for in a summer camp experience.

Camp KidJam Is Built on a Strategy
Camp KidJam is part of the strategy developed by Orange and designed around the principles of 252 Kids. Students will grow in wisdom, faith, and friendship and the lessons learned will flow seamlessly into your weekend environment. Camp KidJam is built around the small group model so after every Jam Session, you will have the opportunity to make the lessons personal through a designated small group time.

Camp KidJam Develops Leaders
Both students and small group leaders experience leadership training. While students are participating in challenges and tracts, SGL’s get a chance to recharge and discuss tough ministry questions. Students sign up for tracks matching their interests and are challenged to grow musically, athletically, or creatively. These intentional leadership opportunities are a unique element of camp that both SGL’s and students love.

Camp KidJam Delivers A Quality Program
If you asked your students today to name their favorite experience from camp last summer, could they remember something? Camp KidJam creates unique memories that will bring a smile to your student’s faces. From the Awesome Sauce Leader to the full worship experience, your preteens will create memories that will last a lifetime. The skits and teaching time will leave students at the edge of their seat wanting more.

Camp KidJam delivers a top-notch program that is a proven gift for your church. The students will grow closer to one another as they grow in a personal authentic faith and the small group leaders will thank you for being a part of the week. To learn more about Camp KidJam check out and also watch this highlight video from our experience last year.

Orange Tour Session Notes with Stuart Hall



Orange Tour Session Notes with Stuart Hall

“We can rebuild your home. We cannot rebuilt your life.” -Florida Governor Rick Scott about the hurricane.

Why are you having to tell people that you must get away from this? It only makes sense that people are getting out. We run the risk of getting distracted about what matters most.

It’s easy for any leader or parent to get distracted about what matters most when it comes to raising a generation. Who is my neighbor? The Good Samaritan. A priest comes by. A Rabi comes by. Then a Samaritan helps him and goes the second mile to give him money out of his pocket and clothes off his back just so the man can be well.

There are a couple of things that scream at us when we look at the story of the good Samaritan and ask these questions:

Who taught the good samaritan to be good?

When Jesus said that the Samaritan was good, the people who have asked, how in the world could this Samaritan have been good?

How and why did the rabbi and priest grow up and miss it?

What was happening in their discipleship process that they walked by a dying man and turned the other way? How were they so theologically sound but missed it so much relationally?

What would happen if we decided to make it a priority as leaders to raise kids to do what Jesus said matters most? Maybe what this pushes at, is that we have gotten distracted about what matters most.

Maybe what matters most is not that they are always theologically right but that they love Jesus.
What if our calling is simple to raise kids that love God in such a way they act like good samaritans? The Gospel pushes us to be good Samaritans. How are you personally doing at raising good Samaritans? Any style of ministry that minimizes what Jesus maximized sets up a generation become disillusioned with the church.

What is going on now is because of the church of the last 20 years, not because what is going on now. We are reaping the consequences of minimizing what Jesus maximizes. The idea of kids loving their neighbor as themselves matters. Most of us are much better at teaching kids what to believe than we are at coaching kids how to serve. My role is not to simply teach kids about serving others but to coach them how to serve others. Make it come to life. What if you and I decided that how students treat other people is a reflection of Jesus in their life. What if we started acting like what a kid does can actually affect what a kid believes? James the brother of Jesus said, “don’t just be a hearer of the Word, do what it says.”

How to climb mountains teaching example. Not watch a movie, read a book, and look at this checklist…Go climb the mountain.

Kids and students understand more about God when they do what God created them to do.

It stretches their faith, not replaces their faith. Why is it that there is pushback in your spirit or mind?


Why don’t we coach kids to serve? 

It’s easier to teach students what to believe than it is to coach them how to serve.

It’s not how we measure success. We measure seats in butts not by the number of students we have mobilized to serve and love their neighbor as themselves.

It takes more time to serve. If everything is clean and organized then it’s probably not relational. Relationships are messy. Maybe start rethinking and simplify what we do so that we have more time.

It’s not on the calendar. What’s next? What do I have to do? Decide, this is what we are going to do next. Maybe you need to kill sacred cows.

It’s messy and risky. You might actually get students involved in serving that never come to your discipling event. Most evangelistic think you can do for teenagers is give them an opportunity to serve. It gives you the opportunity to share Jesus with them.

It’s not a priority in our own personal life. Professional Christians. Haven’t you spent all week long serving at the church but then didn’t show up on the weekend to help someone move? We love God and we love people but it’s exhausting and time-consuming. It becomes an obligation instead of an opportunity.

Advice on creating a culture of service:

Convince every adult that service is discipleship. The International church does not mean that kids sit with their parents but that they serve alongside their parents who are serving.

Give every kid at every phase something significant to do. Preschoolers can consider others before themselves. This week, you get the opportunity to serve us all. Middle school students can be coupled with adults and serve and lead other elementary and preschool kids. We want them to love Jesus more than knowing everything. Give them something significant to do.

Make service a priority on the calendar. Is there anything stunting your ability to do weekly service? What are the reasons that I give?

Create practical entry points and easy wins. How are we going to help them serve?

High School Exchange. Learning about the love of God while serving other people.

Develop a training model. Do you have anything that helps students understand the habits and values of a servant leader? What is the integrity and character of a servant leader? What has God put me on the planet to do?

Model service everywhere. If you are an adult, how do you treat other adults? How do you treat, love, and respect other staff members? One of the best things our kids can see is black and white leaders loving each other. Modeling the good samaritan everywhere.

Leverage groups to champion service. What are your kid’s groups and student groups about? Is they’re a fundamental component of service? Are you raising a generation of small group leaders?

The reason why this is important is that we live in modern day Samaria. We want our students to look, think, and act like Jesus even when all hell breaks loose in their life and serving others makes all the difference.

Instead about making it all about the bad that they do, call them to serve and become the good samaritan. In the process of serving they can fall in love with Jesus.


Give Every Kid a Consistent Leader Breakout Notes from Frank Bealer


Frank Bealer: Give Every Kid A Consistent Leader


If we are going to give every student a consistent leader it takes structure.

Structure: How you arrange or manage various parts so they can support something important.

If we say giving a kid a consistent leader is what we do, is that how we are built? The way we operate in ministry. Your programming can cause students to not come back to your ministry. Your programming does not keep them, they come back because of relationship. We evaluate the large group experiences but if we aren’t careful we spend so much time on programming and forget to see if we actually have leaders showing up consistently for every kid.

We can do big epic events but if they don’t connect kids to a consistent leader, does it really matter? Does it really change a life? Camp can leverage the time of weeks and months worth of small group or you can miss it.

The quality of your relationships is linked to the quality of your structure.

Reinforce and redirect the relationships.

Habit 1 – Organize to Be Organic

Someone has to own it. We say we are about small groups but is it in anyone’s job description? What if we said small groups were so important we took some of our best leaders and said that small group was what we wanted them to focus on? Making coaches of small group leaders. How many of us need more volunteers? 2700 kidmin volunteers at Elevation when Frank left and they still needed more. Inconvenient to pull the best small group leaders out to become coaches but better for the overall growth process. Kids need a lot of structure but as they get older it begins to shift and the roles change. Everyone needs a good seat. Evaluate if you are giving kids a consistent leader with the ratio.

Needs / Haves Document: Needs. How many do you need to keep a good healthy ratio? How many do you actually have? Not how many do you make it work with but actually have. 8-10 and maybe 12 with inconsistency. We cheat the number and try to make it work. Hold ourselves accountable to know how we are doing really. When it grows beyond the capacity some of the kids get squeezed out.

Find ways to pull in the new kids. How do we recognize who is new?

Habit 2: Think Steps Not Programs

We are moving kids closer to small groups, away from small groups, or they are not moving anywhere. Sometimes you have to stop doing something that works if you want something more important to work better.

When students have the opportunity for a shared experience with the small group leader it begins the relationship.

Parents dropping the kids off at the small group leaders house opens the door for a relationship. Stories often don’t make it back to parents. Small group leaders can share these stories with parents that they wouldn’t have heard otherwise. How was camp? Good. What did you do? Stuff.

Don’t teach everything in the large group environment, create the tension and hand it off to the small group leaders to do something with it.

When you things steps, not programs…Events solidify small groups. 
When you things steps, not programs…Volunteers reinforce small groups. 
When you things steps, not programs…Resources support small groups. 

Challenge the kids to know their leader. Do you know your small group leader’s name? Structure small group for relationships.

Habit 3: Move to the rhythm: The more people in a kids life who are moving to the same rhythm, the greater the impact. What are the students wrestling with in this season? On a holiday, maybe give the leaders a break or do something to leverage those times and seasons. The calendar has a rhythm. The community has a rhythm. Your ministry has a rhythm.

Students need someone else, in addition to their dad, to help them navigate the world. They need someone in their corner to point them in the right direction who is keeping them in check. Parents need someone to come alongside their child consistently to be for their kids.

When parents see you are fighting for the relationship, it changes things in their family. Find mentors and leaders. It’s easier to find one person to lead from the stage than an army of people who will disciple the students.