Reggie Joiner, founder and CEO of Orange kicked off the Orange Conference 2020 with a thought he often shares at the beginning of events like this: “The work you do is the most important work on the planet.”
All of the speakers for the first main session kept pointing toward one key point, which is the WHY. In fact, I have a strong feeling they are going to continue with that thought throughout the entire conference. They defined the big why as love, based on the Apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13.
Below, you will see a collection of my notes from Main Session 1 speakers including Jon Acuff, Ryan Leak, Kristen Ivy, and Reggie Joiner. All of what you will see are either direct quotes or paraphrases of what the speakers said.
Speaker: Jon Acuff
Tension: Jon started by asking if there is anyone who actually needs more of that right now.
He then pointed out that change is very much a reality right now.
Because of all of this, parents need you more than ever before:
- Lost jobs
We need to be open to the idea that God is going to work all of this to the good of those who love Him.
We also need to be open to leading the change that is happening right now.
“We have the opportunity to impact even more people than if we were stuck inside a building.”
Speaker: Reggie Joiner
Reggie started by asking: “Have you ever changed your mind?”
He was recently talking to a group of leaders and they all asked the question, “What advice would you give the 20 year old version of yourself?”
His point: You are going to change your mind. We all are.
Reggie then went on to say, “Good leaders change their mind.” In fact, he said he wouldn’t trust a leader who says they don’t change their minds. Not only would they be lying, but he doesn’t believe they would be listening to him. He went on to say, “I don’t want to follow anyone who doesn’t change their minds, because they are not going to lead me anywhere I don’t want to go.”
Then he asked another question: Are you going to change your mind?
He closed by asking us all to finish this prompt: I have changed my mind about…
Speaker: Ryan Leak
The truth is that while it seems like everything changes, there is a lot that does not change.
Ryan started by asking: “How many times have you just wanted to say, ‘This really sucks and I don’t know what to do.’? Being in ministry makes you feel like you should be an expert, but maybe you don’t feel like one at all. Most likely, you don’t feel like one at all.
So when crisis knocks on our door, what do we do?
When someone is going through a hard time, why do we feel like we need to help them forget about it? “Because we believe that pain is bad. And we believe if people see our pain, they will believe our Jesus isn’t worth following.”
“Revolutions are born out of pain.”
Ryan suggested that every leader needs to adopt something during a crisis: Lamenting
“Sometimes leaders need to sit in the pain without a plan.”
The book of Lamentations in the Bible actually ends with questions rather than answers.
May we pause long enough to sit with people’s pain.
In order to do that with others, maybe we need to also sit with our own pain.
We need to give ourselves permission to grieve.
“Change will continue to happen, and when it does, remember to lament.”
The HOW keeps changing but the WHY does not.
Speaker: Kristen Ivy
Kristen continued with the thought about how the WHY never changes.
She suggested that taking a moment to ask why means we take a moment to pause and reflect.
“Why is at the beginning of every revolution.”
“When you understand your why, you’ll be one of the first people to know when it’s time for a systems change.”
“When you don’t know what to do, start by asking why.”
- When you remember why, you will do the next right thing.
- When you remember why, you will go into the unknown.
- When you remember why, you lead like some things never change.
1 Corinthians 13 is a letter about change, where Paul tells them how to lead through change and what will stay the same.
“When you know your why, you will never ever be lost in the woods.”
Speaker: Reggie Joiner
Reggie began by referring back to that question he asked of a number of leaders recently: “If you could go back and interview yourself and tell them how you changed your mind, what would you tell them?”
He then shared that he has changed mind about a number of things over the years: Hard disk space on computers, vegetables, music, politics, Latin, kids, coffee, and his Enneagram numer.
“It’s important, as leaders, to admit when we’ve changed our minds.”
“I’ve changed my mind about changing my mind.”
“People who change their mind, in many ways, are my heroes.”
He then posed a question around this idea: What if we had a culture and climate where we were honest about the times when we change our minds?
Point 1: “When you remember your WHY, you will realize it’s ok to change your mind.”
Changing your mind doesn’t mean your soft or indecisive, it actually means you can grow, forgive, and lead. You can be trusted to lead change and lead through change.
The Apostle Paul changed in a radical way! And he changed his mind on a number of things.
One of those things he changed his mind about is love, which shows up in 1 Corinthians 13.
He wrote this letter to remind the church about the importance of why–the why that Jesus put in place.
Point 2: “When you remember your WHY, you will have a filter to evaluate everything you do”
At the end of 1 Corinthians 13, Paul builds to this point that faith, hope, and love remain. And then he reminds them that the greatest of these is love. He knew that love puts both faith and hope in check.
We need to make sure that the faith and hope that we pass on to others is anchored in love. If not, then it doesn’t make any difference or mean anything.
“You can’t really make the right kind of disciples if you don’t really love your neighbor.”
Most people aren’t looking for a community of faith. They are just looking for a community.
Point 3: “When you remember WHY, you lead other to reimagine HOW.”
Over time, it’s easy to let the HOW shape our identity. Then when the HOW shifts, we have an identity crisis. When we focus on how we do what we do, we are really setting ourselves up.
The one HOW that many of our churches are struggling with right now: Sunday
This is such an important issue to most of us because we grew up believing there was something magical about Sunday. There is, in fact, something built into the rhythm of our week, but we’ve made it something that launches our faith. There is a sacredness to this day that will always exist, and there is a lot of emotion around it. There is power in Sunday.
“Churches should create create the best possible experiences for families who show up at church on Sunday.”
But here is a statement that Orange holds onto from their origin of partnering with parents: What happens at home is more important than what happens at church.
It’s easy to drift, though, and forget the power behind what can happen in the home. And we may drift into thinking it is as important as what happens at the church or eventually that what happens at church is more important.
Here is a challenge: Shift to not only think about the families who show up at church on Sundays to also include the ones who don’t.
“So what if every family became a priority for your church, especially those who don’t attend?”
Some people have a Sunday-at-home mindset. Others have a Sunday-at-church mindset. Some have both. Most people in our country are Sunday-at-home mindsets, while most churches have a Sunday-at-church mindset.
After COVID-19, Reggie believes families will go back to church. What happened with this crisis is that it forced us to think about everyone who is not coming to church and innovate around what happens in the home. Let’s not forget that mindset when we can go back to the church. What if there is a way to expand our Sunday-at-church mindset to also include a Sunday-at-home mindset to reach those families? What would it look like to recognize that those with a Sunday-at-church mindset is declining and those with a Sunday-at-home mindset is increasing?
Reggie then went over some statistics that show how people are Christian and prioritizing church less and less over the last several years. The research also show that each generation, from Booomers to GenX to Millennials, is prioritizing it less.
What would it look like if we look more at the big picture? About half the people who identify as Christians go to church. What would it be like if we then started reaching people with the Gospel rather than trying to get them to attend church more?
When you take a further look at the stats, they show that the vast majority believe in God, but a lot less of them do not prioritize religion. We have a large number of people in our communities who are already caring about spiritual issues but not going to church. What if we thought about that group in a different way?
Jesus said a good shepherd will leave the 99 to go after the one.
We should continue to build strong churches, but what it would look like if we put more focus on those not in the church?
Sunday is important, and so is church, but what would it look like if we started thinking creatively about the families who don’t come yet. The goal wouldn’t be to just get them in church but to engage those who aren’t yet in church.
Paul says LOVE is WHY.
Powerful question: Do we love the families who don’t yet come to our churches as much as we love the families who do? And what would it look like if we put action to that?”
What does it look like to get ready for those who haven’t come yet, can’t come, or won’t come to the church?
We are in the middle of a disruption right now. Are we going to pivot like Paul did in the middle of his disruption?
Reggie ended with this thought: “Have you wondered, if you’re watching this and you’re a leader, and you can’t figure out exactly where you fit in this… Have you wondered why you are leading in this moment? In the middle of something that’s complicated and shakes our identity to its core, you are a leader at the most pivotal time. And the fact that you’re a leader right now is an indicator that God wants to do something unique with you and that you have a voice and that you can do something. […] It could be the greatest opportunity we’ve ever had as a church to redefine ourselves in a culture that’s already redefining us.”
Main Session 1 started off strong with some great thoughts around refocusing our efforts as a church. I can’t wait to see and hear what everyone brings to sessions 2 and 3 on Thursday and Friday.