The final day of The Orange Conference was today (yesterday by the time I am writing this), and I have to say I am not sure what day I liked better. There are so many things that I have on my mind. I really need some time to sit down, pray, and articulate everything when I get back. Because of that, I cannot wait to get back. Not that I do not have other reasons to be excited for home, but knowing that God will continue to shape me through what I experienced this week, makes me so excited. I have a new-found passion for God and His Kingdom, and I want to do all I can to make sure I am available for Him to use me however He chooses.
This morning started off with a main session talk from Perry Nobel. The majority of his talk stemmed from Matthew 19:13-15. In light of that, he had 7 convictions, based on family (youth and children’s) ministry.
- Family ministry has more potential than any other ministry, and it is the most important in the church.
- A healthy family ministry MUST be supported by the senior pastor.
- Senior pastors need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
- Environments matter.
- Keep it simple.
- Tension and conflict must be addressed no matter what.
- Have the right people in the right places.
Chuck Bomar led my first workshop based on ministry to college-age people. He made some amazing points on how we can begin to reach out to college students, providing them with what they need to feel a sense of belonging and growth. The main point was to do this through “non-mentor mentors.” The idea is to take the emphasis off of teaching them. Instead, focus on getting into their lives relationally, walk beside them, and create opportunities to discuss life and faith. A big quote I took away from this workshop was this: “If we cannot help college students find where they belong in the world, they will lose their identity in the world.” As a minister primarily to teenagers and their parents, I hear that resonate with what I do while those students are still in middle or high school. The goal of a college-age ministry is to help transition people from “student life” to “adult life.” I also bought his book, so I intend to share it with my wife, and we can begin to grow from it. I do not know what God is doing yet, but I do know I have a growing heart for college-age students. Maybe it is because my past youth group students are now starting college, and I still care for them.
Donald Miller spoke in both a special workshop and in the final main session. In his workshop he covered 3 major paradigms affecting students and children’s ministries:
- Disintegration of the American family.
- Stories they hear.
The second workshop I attended was on building quality small groups with Tom Shefchunas. In order to build a ministry that will long surpass the main leader, we need to build strong small groups. The main principal is that “the building blocks of relationships are shared quality memories. He went on to ask several questions that made us think about how we approach small groups. The main idea was that we need to put more emphasis on them, their adult leaders, and the experience they get while in those groups. Here are some of a couple of those questions:
- Does your program accidentally steal the memories from small groups?
- How do you approach your games, worship (music), events, etc.?
Donald Miller finished off the day by speaking in the final main session about several points in his latest book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.” Here are some ideas that I found particularly helpful and interesting:
- God puts us through conflict, or allows it to happen, so that we appreciate the end.
- We have to provide a better story so kids choose it over the other stories out there.
- You do not have to win for a story to be great; you just have to sacrifice.
He and Reggie Joiner challenged us to come up with our one, big, God-sized “take-away.” I plan on sharing that, but it will not happen tonight.