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!
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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.



Orange Tour Session Notes with Latasha Morrison and Reggie Joiner


Tasha Morrison – We Build a Bridge


Most of our society and churches are racially segregated. If the church won’t be the answer, who will be the answer? If we don’t address it, who will? We say that Jesus is the answer. Kids need discipleship and part of that discipleship is racial reconciliation.

“My journey took me to a Garth Brooks concert. I never want to do that again.”

When you step out of your comfort zone it’s a little awkward and messy.

80% of what kids learn is from their parents. 20% is from outside sources such as your church leaders. Where our friendships begin, and when we have proximity in relationships, that’s where assumptions and stereotypes die. Maybe as a youth leader, you can address what the pastor might not be able to address.

Look at your social media. How can I be better? How am I learning from people who are different than me? How can I begin to live outside of my racially segregated box?

The way you start, what to think about, is beginning with the first step. Invite someone new to the table. Find someone culturally different than you. Do something you have never done before. When you come to the table together you can learn about my story, perspective, and experiences. God created us differently. This is about unity and oneness, not sameness.

Diversity makes us richly blessed.


Reggie Joiner – We Do Something We Don’t Have To Do

Party- Any effort to CELEBRATE, SERVE, or ENJOY each other in ways that adds value to life.

If starting over with a group of 9th graders the first thing Reggie would do would be to start enlisting kids to do something and to serve. Collecting the names of 9th and 10th graders who are leading. Invite them to a big party. I want to invite you to be the student leadership team in this town. You represent 20 different churches in different schools. I believe if this town is going to change it will begin with you. The day before mother’s day. Gave buckets of roses. Sending them out to make a difference. Serving changes the way that someone else sees you. When you do something you don’t have to do, it takes your faith to another place. The dilemma, student leadership team meeting 4th Sunday of every month but what am I going to tell them?

Here are the 7 things I want you to have and start with.

Do something you don’t have to do. Attached to something you see at a party. Food

Invite someone new to the table. Chair. New, not someone you don’t know but someone who is not like you. We Dine Together. Invited to the same table, and transformed the school by spending time with people who are new. We are called to be in the world but not of the world but many of us forget that first part. Learn the difference between racial prejudice vs. racism. “We know you aren’t a racist, we just want to know if you are anti-racist.” Racism is not your fault but it’s your problem; it’s our problem. We have to join side by side and declare war against anything that goes against what Jesus taught us. In the story of the good Samaritan it wasn’t hate that was the bad example, it was indifference.

Fast Forward someone else’s dream. Gift. Give the gift of generosity. We are created in the image of a generous God. Don’t look out for your own interests. When you invest your treasure your heart follows.

Inspire every kid you meet. Balloon. Stop and pause to look into the eyes of a child. Jesus said to His disciples to allow the children to come to Him. “When you welcome one of these children, you welcome Me.” -Jesus. Something happens to a culture and community when children matter. Teach them to serve children. The church would collapse without them. Changing the teenager more than the kid when you invite them to serve.

Create beautiful spaces. Flower. What we do when we care about the spaces around us is almost a way for us to say to the people around us that there is hope. God is the God of restoration. When you put makeup on, cut the grass, restore spaces, you are doing the work of a heavenly Father who created a beautiful world. Can we say we care about people when we don’t care about the places they live in? Help the next generation restore something that is broken.

Speak up for someone else. Flag Banner. We raise the flag when we use our voice. If you have a voice you have influence. If you have influenced you have a responsibility. Raise your voice to be passionate about what Jesus was passionate about. The marginalized and poor. When someone was being abused. When power was being abused. We should be bothered because we represent a God who said to love our neighbors.

Discover life together. Coffee Cup. Sharing a drink of coffee. When we are in a community together, transformation happens. Every kid needs a consistent leader in their life. Their chance of a mobilized faith is a consistent leader who points them to Jesus. Here’s how I want the church to win. Put a consistent leader in the life of every kid. When you do this the town wins. Community does something that therapy, presentations, and a sermon can never do. Community get’s to the core of who we are and what we do. Think about the preventive work that you are doing because you are putting kids and teenagers into a relational community. When they hit a wall, they have someone to run to. The role of the church is to give kids safe places, to give resources so that leaders can be better in creating a community for kids. You can never do faith alone and win.

When I do these 7 things, God becomes alive to me. Instead of just coming together and learning, this sets them up for experiencing authentic faith.


Dan Scott: Make the Tween Years a Bigger Deal


Dan Scott: Make the Tween Years a Bigger Deal.

The role of music in Dan’s life and how he got there.

We get to work with kids and this will change the directory of their lives.

Something will happen during these years that will set them on a course.

What are we doing to make the moments huge to assist in the transition?

There is something happening in the life of a fifth grader that makes them think they are might be done with church.

What is a preteen?

No one agrees on this definition? Early onset of puberty. Not just physical but mental changes.

Today we are looking at the 10-12 years old. Just a Phase. A phase is a timeframe in a kid’s life when you can leverage distinctive opportunities to influence a kid’s future.

In-between Phase – Physical changes – Growth spurts, puberty.

Mental changes:

Elementary kids think like a scientist. What if questions.

Concrete and literal thinkers.

“There is an Icecream store around the corner.” Thinking literal corner.

“Inviting Jesus into your heart.” Thinking, Ewwww.

Middle Schoolers think like engineers.

More abstract.

Paul saying always be joyful. Think about Paul being in prison. Think about the state of mind. Connecting ideas and concepts.

Magic age is 11. 5th grade spring semester. Don’t talk to them like kids. They are perceiving it like we talk down to them. Preteens think like scientists and engineers at the same time.

Changing Emotionally and Spiritually

Not always linear and sometimes the steps forward and one step back.

Elementary Students Provoke discovery: So they will…trust God’s character and experience God’s family. Like the proverbs. It doesn’t always work out like we thought. Principle vs dynamic truth.

Middle Schoolers: Provoke discovery. So they will…own their own faith and value a faith community.

Changing Culturally and Relationally:

Crisis in this 4-5 grade phase: Friendship- Do I have friends? Help them learn how to develop friendships. Emotionally hurt and made a concrete evaluation of that hurt. Because we are not getting along anymore we are not friends anymore. When parents argue, they are getting a divorce. When they miss a field goal they don’t think they can play anymore. They go to the concrete. Starting to realize they don’t like everyone and are not liked by everyone. Teach them how to be friendly even when they are not friends.

Crisis in 6th-grade phase: Puberty. Girls average age 10 and 11.5 boys. Who do I like? Who likes me? Gain stability. Hormones and emotions. Wrapped into their identity. The church should be a place where no matter what a child or middle schooler walks in and knows that someone likes them.

What should we do:

Engage: Their Interests

Affirm: Their Personal Journey

Engage the 4th/5th grades to let them know that what they like is cool. Not a time to be pessimistic. Engage them on their level.

Affirm the 6th grader in their personal journey. Let them know that we are in this together.


The Preteen World
Pop Culture – They are now their own taste makers. I’m going to listen to my own music because I’m done with adult contemporary. They are getting into popular culture and popular culture is getting into them. They know more youtube stars than they know movie stars. Youtube, Spotify. We have to be careful about what they are being exposed to. Be careful and open. Just because we don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s bad. Start with Rhett and Link and follow the rabbit trail to dude perfect. What social media are they looking into? Digital Natives growing up in a smart world. Speak to Siri and Alexa to find out anything they want to find out. They might not ask a parent about sex but they might ask Alexa.

Education –

Group projects. What people bring to the table can be frustrating. They are doing way higher level thinking than we were doing as kids.


From bottom to the top of the spectrum.

From what and when, to how, and then to why.

Help students wrestle with the content we are teaching them.

Evaluation: Take one thing and put it into the context of another. Move from Sunday to Monday.

Motivation and Currency

Fun Matters. They want to laugh and enjoy themselves.

Autonomy: Not absolute freedom but giving them three good choices and allow them to pick. They will own the learning process and it becomes their learning.

Friendship: Relationships are important. Consistent small groups matter. Programming will fade. They return week after week because of the friendship that the small groups cultivated in their circle. Relationships over time matters.

A Preteen Strategy
#1 Environments: When a child walks into this space for the first time their brain lights up. Week two they think it’s cool, week three they don’t notice. Nothing has changed but the brain recognizes it and they think they will hear and learn the same thing so they turn it off. Sometimes when kids don’t pay attention it’s their fault other times it’s our fault. Cue the brain that something is new so that it cues the brain. Help them personalize the space. Chalk wall. Plywood tables with markers. Help them create the environment. Continually changing the environment and they create it. Soft lighting, stage lighting. Focused attention on a certain spot. Get them by themselves as soon as possible. Ikea furniture, Ikea lamps, Xbox in the hallway. It doesn’t matter because it’s their space.

#2 Content: “I want them to go deep.” The definition isn’t more information but putting that information into a different context. Allow kids to wrestle. Ask the question. Let them wrestle with the answers to help them figure out what they need to do to make this week better and to make their faith grow. Wrestle, personalize, and do it in order to learn it.

#3 Large Group: Host and Storyteller. Entertainment and sermon. With preteen, there is a communicator. They look at the content through the lens of himself and it becomes a more personal and authentic talk. Storyteller is more like an actor where a Communicator is more of the pastor.
#4 Small Group: Attacking the question heads on. There are activities because discussion does not work for every preteen. Many preteens are not full abstract thinkers so they must start concrete before abstract. A hook the abstract thought.

#5 Home: Life with a preteen can be exhausting. Don’t want to talk on the drive in the car. Mom and dad need help because no one is prepared. We gloss over all the awkward in our own minds. Specific devotionals that they can do throughout the week. Take Sunday to a new place. Wrestle with faith skills. Prayer activity. Faith Talk. Bible Navigation. Worship with your life.

Transitions Matter!

Help parents with the transitions from elementary to adolescence.

Transition activities. Wanted in the next instead of kicked out of the current.

Students are literally stolen. Here’s a t-shirt, we are going to middle school.

We want those kids to feel wanted. Building anticipation is okay. Letting kids wait is okay. Don’t rush them to the next phase. 5th graders should not be with 8th graders, they are completely different beings. It’s dangerous and they can’t handle it. They will do anything to fit in.

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Orange Tour Session Notes With Jon Acuff, Carlos Whittaker, and Reggie Joiner


Jon Acuff: Be For Our Neighbors


Neighbors are Weird

In your neighborhood there are weirdoes. Now with technology, you know more about your neighbors. The Story of the neighbor who saw the UFO. That’s not even my weirdest neighbor. The neighbor who said that their cat has been kidnapped returned it and shave half of it. But she didn’t give all the info; which half?

Neighbors are Helpful

The story of the big black furry rat in the garage. Traps that kill them. Brown rat stuck in a trap. Jon tells his wife to get a broom. Did you know that rats can scream at you? Mrs. Lynn who takes care of it. That’s weird but that’s what a neighbor does.

For Our Neighbors:


It’s a thousand drops in the bucket for when it matters most.

What if Christians were known for what they are for and not what they are against.


We are all in this tougher. It doesn’t have to be dramatic, it can be small. Watching your neighbors kids.

It’s not the easy neighbors. Not those who have the same views as us. Jesus said to love our neighbors, not because it’s easy but because it’s hard. Dog Whisperer story. That’s who I have to be deliberate about.

It’s easy to hate an idea, it’s hard to hate an individual. When you know a real person it changes how you look at your neighbors.

92% of goals fail. As parents it’s hard. We think it will organically work in our family but it never happens. Finish.


Carlos Whittaker: Look Past a Situation and Into the Story


Culture is different in Las Angeles than it is in Atlanta.

The story of his two daughters and adopted son.

His daughter is in kindergarten for four days and hides on Marta from the brown people. She had her entire life not seen the color of dad’s skin until someone told her to look at the color of skin. Look past a situation and into a story. If we are going to be for our neighbor that’s what we need to do.

The story of the good samaritan.

All 3 men saw the man but only one saw past a situation and into the story.

There is the potential in this room to help a generation see into the story.

For those we are leading we need to look past the situation and into their story. It gives permission for other’s to do just this.

Raise up a generation of good samaritans who look past a situation and into the story.


Reggie Joiner: Stay Focused on What Matters Most


When we look for the best in a person we happen to be with at the moment, we are doing what God does all the time. So in loving and appreciating our neighbors, we are participating in something sacred.” Mister Rogers

Sometimes we think Bible studies, worship, and prayer is sacred, but what if we decided that in our thinking about being for our neighbors was participating in something sacred.

Love the Lord your God with heart soul mind and strength and neighbor as yourself.

How we treat those around us is a sacred issue.

We want to measure our ministries, what are the yard sticks we put up to measure?

Challenge to change the year sticks. What generation are we leading? How do we measure that success?

As leaders, we have to be reminded of where the compass is. Sometimes we get so busy we lose sight of our north star.

Story: Moving in, Tom there waiting, can we call you the Rev, but then with hairline it became the pope. This man was completely different than Reggie. Maybe you want to do an easter egg hunt for my family. $1000 easter egg hunt. Asked Reggie, “Do you ever pray at parties?” Kegger party. The Pope is here and we are going to pray. Tom was crying and said that he wanted to be Reggie’s best friend. Next day, next week, and next month the relationship was different. Don’t know why and can’t explain it but something happened at that party. Showed up in his world and the question’s changed. He started talking about real life. The relationship went to a different play. The power and potential that a party has in relationships when you go the extra mile for your neighbors. Sometimes it takes a party. If he had never gone to the party, the relationship wouldn’t have happened. Tom taught Reggie, what it means to be a neighbor.

Sometimes it takes a party…to CHANGE how we SEE each other.

Party- Any effort to CELEBRATE, SERVE, or ENJOY each other in ways that adds value to life.

Christianity is more like a party than a class. We need to invite a generation to have a different experience than what we’ve been doing.

In the New Testament we see that Jesus likes a party. Was accused of all kinds of things, told stories about parties, compared eternity to the party, first miracle.

Sometimes it takes a party…to DEMONSTRATE that God CARES about people who party.

The prodigal son.

Sometimes it takes a party…to CONFIRM that we can always be FORGIVEN.

Sometimes it takes a party…To prove that people MATTER MORE than our opinions

Tax collectors house

Jesus tells the story about the rich man throwing a party and the VIP list people are getting ready to come. Send out invitations. There is a twist. Rich guy opens the invitation to everyone and anyone. Sends messages into the street to invite. Jesus changed the rules and gave an identity crisis.

Sometimes it takes a party…to remind us all that EVERYONE is INVITED to the party.

The basis of our faith. Everyone is invited. This one concept and idea show change how we do ministry and how we see each other. What if we started acting like everyone was invited.

An important time in history. Where the church should lead the way to say to a generation behind us that everyone is invited to the party. The gospel does not segregate us, it integrates us. The reason the generation is dissolution with the church is because of the history of marginalizing and discrimination and isolation. We’re so much better at debating the gospel than we are at demonstrating the gospel. They are watching how we treat those around us. There is coming a day when we will be in the same room at the same table because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Here’s the point. If we are going to be intentional about inviting a generation to the table, it starts with us. This can be contagious and have a ripple eggiest through the generations.

If you would start thinking in terms of inviting others to the party and inviting yourself to the party of those who are different than you, something will happen to you. Move out of stagnation.

DO SOMETHING you don’t have to do.

Suppose someone forces you to go one mile. Go two miles with them.” Jesus

By law, the Jewish boy had to carry gear of a Roman soldier for a mile. Imagine a 12-13-year-old boy actually does this. On the second mile, the conversation changes. The relationship begins to change. Mile one fulfilled an obligation. Mile two changed the nature of their relationship. When we do ministry, as usual, we do what is obligated. Something happens in your ministry when you go the second mile. Because of one step from mile one to mile two. Wonder why you aren’t motivated or don’t have passion. When you invite them to this kind of experience it changes everything. What have you done that you didn’t have to do? What have you done that you weren’t obligated to do? Busy doing everything you have to do so stop and do something you don’t have to do. Volunteer. This is what happens, it changes you in ways you never imagined. You care about things you never cared about before. Care about what time DQ closes, who is on the education board, about what the pastor in the town is struggling with. You care because where you invest your treasure your heart follows. You don’t get a burden and go do something. You get this generation to do something they have never done before and they will get a burden for this new thing.

Do something because…If you do you feel something deeper, you tap into something sacred, you experience a radical type of love. We are called to invite a generation to step over the line and go the extra mile for the party. God has called you to some important things.