Many of us in ministry know the typical way things go. Parents expect to drop their kids off at their respective ministry and go on their way. Going deeper, many churches take this approach. They view the ministers as the only ones in charge of the ministry. While many have tried to change this, which has created healthier churches, ministers are not always the best at delegating. Further, many youth ministers are guilty of this very issue. Even further, they do not always empower students to lead. Joy Bowen led a pre-conference workshop on this very issue – Mobilizing Kids and Students to Lead. She urged that we need to stop basing our success on the number of kids in our ministry. Instead, we need to focus on the number of kids serving.
Tag Archives: atlanta
If you haven’t realized it yet, I’m going to be heading down to Atlanta again for the Orange Conference this year. I just booked my flight, so it is official! My first time was last year, and this year, they have asked me to return and blog for them. I am pretty excited about this opportunity, to be honest. I don’t know what it will involve, but I anticipate a fun time, nonetheless. I am looking forward to meeting the reThink/XP3 people and others who are attending the conference.
Speaking of which, are you going to be heading to Orange this year? If so, please let me know. I would love to meet up. One of the things that excites me about Orange is connecting with others who are working hard for God’s Kingdom. I love to share ideas, hear stories, and realize that I am not alone in this. Let me know if you want to meet up. Leave a comment, send me an email, or DM me on Twitter.
In addition to my blog posts, you can follow me and my thoughts more closely on my Twitter page (@stevecullum).
Someone told me a while back that ministry is one of the loneliest careers. At the time, I am sure I had no idea what that person was talking about. I mean, I was surrounded with peers in Bible college who were studying and doing ministry, and it was some of the best times in my life. However, college does come to an end, people move on to begin their careers and families, and soon you realize that life is not the same anymore.
It had been five years since I had graduated college, and it had been about the same since I had attended any type of ministry conference when Amy (our Director of Family Ministries) told me she would like to take a group to the Orange Conference. To this point, I had heard about it, because we were using XP3 for our youth group curriculum, but that was it. However, I was excited at the possibilities.
From the moment I arrived, I was captivated. In fact, the biggest thing that I took away from the Orange Conference in 2010 was inspiration. It was amazing to be around that many ministry professionals who were going about the same thing, focused on the same mission, and shooting for the same ending — families turning to Christ. From the worship music to the main sessions to the breakout workshops to conversations with lots of awesome people, I was truly inspired. It helped me to get going again. It helped me to realize that we are not alone. God has an awesome team of individuals working for His Kingdom, and I was able to rub shoulders with those people for a few days last year. If that is not inspiring, I am not sure what is.
While the conference did help me tweak and change some practical areas of my ministry, the spiritual and mental changes inside me were far greater benefits. Since then, I have a renewed outlook on ministry. Sure, things get tough sometimes, but when it happens, I try to let God remind me of His presence. On top of that, it is not just me. I have an awesome team of youth workers at the church, and there are many others all around the world, who are just as passionate about this ministry, if not more. All that inspires me to be a better leader and a better minister, because I never know who God might use me to reach for Him… It might even be another youth worker.
To find out more about the Orange Conference, go to www.orangeconference.org.
Today was our second day of the Orange Conference. It started off a bit slow, with a great breakfast at the hotel (biscuits & gravy, eggs, etc). When we finally got to the arena, I was completely at home again. I seriously love conferences, and I had not been to one in so long, I forgot how good it feels. Both Nancy and John Ortberg were so inspirational, and the music was spot-on to what God wanted me to experience this morning. I still need time to process the entire day and what God is teaching me, but I thought it would be helpful for you to catch a glimpse right now, but expect more thoughts after a few days of processing. Here are some main points I picked up throughout the day.
Nancy Ortberg taught on leadership and building teams.
- Other than my personal devotion to God, the number one priority of my ministry should be the status of the team I work with.
- People need opportunities, based on their gifts. Also, be sure to follow up with feedback and coaching.
- People need challenges. We need to give people the chance to deal with conflict.
- People need relationships. Vulnerability in leadership is huge!
Nancy’s husband, John Ortberg, spoke afterwards on the idea of seeing ourselves in light of God.
- The fastest growing religion among teens today — Moralistic Thereputic Deism (God exists, He helps me feel good, but He doesn’t act in my life unless there is a crisis or pain).
- A false god will lead to a false self. What type of false self?
- Me I think I should be.
- Me others want me to be.
- Me I’m afraid God wants me to be.
- Me that fails to be.
- I need to ask myself this question often — Do I want it more than ANYTHING else in the world? It being the man of God I was created to be.
During the late morning and early afternoon, I went to a workshop (2 parts) based on “Orangeology” for the teen years. Stuart Hall and Jared Herd split the teaching duties as they covered the importance of focusing on partnering with parents and families. The 5 principles of Orangeology are:
- Integrate Strategy
- Reactivate the Family
- Refine your Message
- Elevate Community
- Leverage Influence
After the workshops, Rev Run (from Run DMC) was interviewed by Reggie. He wrote a book recently, and he shared some ideas from that work.
- Absence makes the heart of the family grow further.
- Our first priority (other than with God) is with our spouse (over our kids).
- If you do not know about a situation or feel comfortable, you have got to go to the One who does know.
- E.G.O. = Edging God Out
Doug Fields finished the night off, which was great for me as a youth minister. I have grown so much from his mentoring through his books and other conferences. His focus was on the family structure of people in ministry.
- Bumper Sticker — Focus on your own family!
- Leadership is a primary example. We need to live a life worthy of imitation. How?
- Change the channel — We are hearing/focusing on the wrong thing(s).
- Unplug from church — Use the off button when you are at home, in your safe/sacred place.
- Serve ice cream — Have fun and provide privilege for your kids/spouse.
After all that was said and done, we were supposed to have a youth ministry “mixer” and bowling tournament at Dave & Busters. Since we had seen one by our hotel, we went there. Come to find out, that was not the only one. By the time we got there, they had filled our spot. Instead, we ate dinner, and we spent a ton of time debriefing from today. That was a great time! I honestly wish I could do that more often.
One day left of the Orange Conference tomorrow. I can’t wait. Donald Miller will be speaking as well.
After flying out of Boston and landing in Atlanta today, I was a bit tired. However, I soon woke up during the long walk from one end of the airport to the other, just to get our rental cars. I lucked out and scored a blue Dodge Charger. It is pretty nice, comfortable, and smooth riding. After that, we arrived at our hotel and realized we had free cookies, free dinner, and a free hot breakfast (in the morning). Score again! Finally, we are off to the conference center for our first “main session.”
The speakers were great. The theme is COLLIDE, and they mentioned several ways and methods in which we should collide with each other and with God. The 2 ways we should collide with each other were focused on within and outside the church.
The first speaker was Mark Batterson of National Community Church. He was interviewed by Reggie Joiner, the founder and CEO of the reThink Group (who puts on Orange). There were several good points he made. I’ll highlight them for you.
- We sometimes slip into doing ministry by memory instead of my inovation. This has to stop, and we need to continue to be creative in our approach, not relying on what we have done in the past.
- The church needs to be 2-dimensional in its approach to guests. His church welcome’s guests like this: “We want you to be a part of what God is doing here, AND we want to be a part of what God is doing through you.”
- Change of pace + Change of place = Change of perspective. We must disrupt the routine.
- Failure of imagination puts the next generation at risk.
- We need to keep a childlike faith, which in turn will allow us to keep this amazing wonder about God.
The second speaker was Chris Wiersma of Westside King’s Church. He brought a message based on similar ideas, focusing on colliding with each other in innovation as we attempt to keep a childlike faith. Here are some highlights.
- There is not one person who is cool enough, smart enough, etc. that they do not need God’s grace.
- We need to outgrow our church’s petty statistics and our local address if we are really going to do what we are called to do as a church.
- We are not just called to simply help people. We are supposed to get lost in the wonder of God. We are called to have a fascination with Him. We need to collide with others and their lives.
- There is a fragmented image of God in every one of us.
- Matthew 18 talks of the childlike faith, and Genesis 3:7 shows the first time man worried about his worth, image, or acceptance.
- We need to lose our ego if we want to find the Kingdom.
Overall, this has been a great trip. The evening was finished by some great music, and we sang out for our God with one voice. I can hardly wait for tomorrow. It will be great!
Tomorrow, I will be heading off to Atlanta, GA, for the ORANGE CONFERENCE. This is a time for those of us in ministry to focus more on partnering with families. So often, in the church, we have compartmentalized our ministries. At the same time, we have tried to operate separately from the God-instituted family. The goal of ORANGE is to start blending all of those lines and begin partnering together to build up the family.
Expect several posts from me over the next few days, as I hope to share what I am learning with you (my readers). There will be a total of 8 of us going from RCC, so it should be an excellent time. Please pray for our safety as we travel.
If you want to follow my thoughts/whereabouts more quickly than waiting for a full-out blog post, follow me on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/stevecullum.