Last year was my first year at the Orange Conference, and I was very excited. Not only was this my first ministry-related conference in several years, it was also focused on family ministry. To top it off, many of my favorite authors/speakers were going to be there. Among them were Doug Fields, Stuart Hall, John Ortberg, and Donald Miller.
I have to admit that I was most excited to hear Miller speak. I had read his book, “Blue Like Jazz,” while I was in college, and I loved it. He wrote about the Christian life from a different perspective. However, I had never seen or heard him in person. After the second day of the conference, I was no longer able to say that.
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.
In his main session, he spoke 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.
In the end, he and Reggie Joiner challenged us to come up with our one, big, God-sized “take-away” from the conference. That made us all think long and hard. In fact, it was probably one of the biggest reflection times of my ministry at RCC, and I am still working on fulfilling my take-away to this day.