Thursday morning at Orange Conference 2020 was action-packed, as the previous two sessions were. We heard some amazing talks and interviews around special needs ministry, a revolution of love, racial reconciliation, how to share the Gospel with the next generation, what we can still do in the middle of this pandemic, and how we respond to change.
Below, you will see a collection of my notes from Main Session 3 speakers like Reggie Joiner, Kristen Ivy, Sherry Surratt, Monec Johnson, Meaghan Wall, Diane Kim, Danielle Strickland, Sam Collier, Jennifer Barnes, Bernice King, Andy Stanley, Doug Fields, and Kara Powell. All of what you will see are either direct quotes or paraphrases of what the speakers said.
Interview: Kristen Ivy with Sherry Surratt, Monec Johnson, Meaghan Wall, and Diane Kim
Topic: Change doesn’t affect everyone the same
This conversation was all about special needs ministry. Here are some of the highlights:
Monec: The goal is a true excitement for sharing the Gospel with everyone. So we need to take that vision into how you can make that happen at your church. And each room has to be filled with people who believe the Gospel is for everyone. You have to have total buy-in from the leadership, though. We don’t want isolated, siloed ministry.
Diane: If Orange is about the church and the home partnering, then special needs can be the blood orange. Those parents are already used to partnering with organizations, but that’s often not happening in the church. The most important ingredients are heart and hustle, similar to the friends of the paralytic who got their friend to Jesus.
Sherry: Churches who have special needs ministries are very compassionate, because you can’t have one that is just done when a child finishes elementary school. A lot of those churches often feel like they aren’t equipped, but they are courageously stepping out and learning from others in their community.
Diane: Your primary asset is going to be the partnership with the parent. They are the expert in their child and the organizations they are already working with.
Meaghan: It’s not an us vs. them ministry. We’re going to do this together. That’s the picture of what heaven will look like and what God wants for the church.
Sherry: Many churches are saying the kids are often serving them. It’s been great to see that happen.
There are a number of special needs-focused breakout workshops, as well. If you would like me to cover them, let me know in the comments.
If you want to learn more, check out orangeleaders.com/resources for some free resources. You will especially want to check out the “Every Family” document.
Speaker: Danielle Strickland
Topic: You can experience a love that liberates from fear
Winnie Mandela, wife of Nelson Mandela: “There’s no stopping an idea whose time has come.”
Every revolution in history has an idea:
- An incredible idea at just the right time
- A catalytic leader with a supportive community
- A mechanism to spread the original message
Jesus, of course, is the greatest revolutionary leader.
The root of the word revolution is to roll back and to unveil. What Jesus came to bring was a revolution of love that did both of these, it was an inside-out revolution, an eternal revolution.
The “Beatitudes” of Matthew 5 are a song of revolution — it’s the original idea of the Love Revolution.
Jesus’ revolution started with an idea, the most radical and revolutionary idea ever: The idea that God is love and we are loved by God.
There is no stopping this revolution, because it is based on love. And we cannot overemphasized the love of God.
All other revolutions will come and go, but the inside-out revolution of love will never stop.
What love does:
- Awakens us to see things as they could be.
- Invites us get at the truth about God and us.
- Empowers us to be the revolution that the world needs.
We are the answer the world is looking for. We have within us the hope of glory. We’re the ones that hold up the flag of the Kingdom of God. We are the ones that can point people to the God of love—God who is love.
Love is the ultimate revolution, and the mechanism of it continuing is us.
In John 20, Jesus appears to the disciples in hiding and says, “Peace be with you.” He’s not mad or angry. He is love, and that presence of love drove the fear out of them and liberated them from the inside-out. Then Jesus breathes on them, which was similar to God breathing life into creation in Genesis. Jesus, in His resurrected form, breathes on the disciples to create a new humanity, instilling a mechanism of people to manifest His presence on earth.
You are a revolution of love and the world needs it right now.
Interview: Reggie Joiner with Sam Collier, Jennifer Barnes, and Bernice King
This was a great conversation around racial reconciliation. I couldn’t capture everything, but here are some highlights:
Bernice: It all starts with a desire. If you have a desire, you will seek it out. if you’re closed-minded, it will not happen.
Sam: Jesus always talked about us being one, above all us. It can be difficult to press pause on our pain in order to connect with others who don’t look like us, but it can illuminate our lives enough to connect.
Bernice: I’m trying to create a win-win atmosphere. It’s not easy, but we have to stay committed.
Jennifer: The more I showed up, the more uncomfortable I allowed myself to be, the more things died inside me that needed to die.
Bernice: Since COVID-19, there has been a light to shine on people who have been “last” in our world and country. We’re all relying on many people who are not getting livable wages, and many of them are African-American and Latino. As we move forward, the issue of privilege is a serious issue in our world (not just racial). In preparing, it’s very important that those kind of truths be shared with the next generation. COVID has exposed the younger generations to pain and suffering. We have to dig in and be courageous.
Jennifer: The conversation of privilege was a conversation Bernice and I had early on. Initially, I wasn’t seeing the word and the way they were using it, because I was disconnected from their journey.
Bernice: It’s really a situation where both sides need to be vulnerable. We have to allow ourselves to go there, to give ourselves permission to be vulnerable.
Reggie: Paul said he had become all things to all people. It’s an approach issue.
Speaker: Andy Stanley
Topic: We need to change our approach for a generation that’s changed their minds.
When talking to our family, we each talked about the one thing we want to take moving forward from all of this pandemic. For me, that is the idea of rhythm. We need to learn while we can and take some things from all this.
The faith of the next generation is worth everything.
Great church: Led by people who love Jesus, loves like Jesus, has a plan to help the next generation to love Jesus.
Churches who have a plan for the next generation generally do better as a church.
If you’re going to be a church that’s all about the next generation, it can’t just be a statement that’s on the wall. We have to organize our church to the next generation. Organizations do what they are organized to do.
Four observations about the next generation:
- All the information and misinformation in the world is at their fingertips 24/7. (This is incredibly important when we start thinking about the Bible.)
- They are on a meaning and security quest—not a truth quest. (Most of us were on a happiness quest when we were their age. They have grown up feeling unsafe and searching for meaning.)
- Inclusion, diversity, and sustainability are moral issues. (For older generations, these were political issues. When we trip over these issues, you can undermine your credibility with this generation. This is true in their minds, but it is not always true in their lives, but we can’t start by pointing that out.)
- Love is their ethic, but it’s loosely and conveniently defined. (It’s very situational.)
(There is hypocrisy in some of these, but there is hypocrisy in all of us, if we are honest.)
How to invite the next generation into a dynamic faith:
- Frame the invitation around following Jesus (rather than praying a prayer or becoming a noun, Christian).
- The term Christian does not have the same thoughts that it used to in our world.
- The original use of the word Christian was actually derogatory.
- Establish the Gospels as the text that informs their faith (not the entire Bible).
- This doesn’t mean we devalue the rest of the Bible. In light of the first statement, we simply need to use the Gospels as the foundation of their understanding of Jesus.
- Inviting this generation to a Gospel that is based on the entire Bible is a non-starter, because they can find everything that will not support that thought very easily. Also they will not look at the Bible with the presupposition that it is all true. We don’t have to change our theology, just our method of how we start the conversation.
- Anchor their orthopraxy to Jesus’ new covenant command (to love one another from John 13:34-35, as this is our common ground).
- In the Gospels, we see this brand of love illustrated through Jesus. In the epistles, we see it applied through Paul’s letters.
- The dynamic of faith is not what we believe, but what we do. It’s that kind of faith that changes the world.
- Help them answer the question: What does love require of me?
“You must do this. Because what’s more important than the faith of the next generation? I say nothing, and I think you’ll agree.”
Speaker: Doug Fields
Topic: What you do this week still matters
Taking thoughts from Philippians 1, Doug shared three things that still matter as we work with kids and teenagers.
What still matters is being…
- In contact
- What are you doing this week to show your kids that you care?
- In prayer
- Are you praying for the flock that God has entrusted to your care, and do they actually know about it?
- Spiritually encouraging
- What picture are you painting for the kids in your ministry?
These are things that leaders have been doing for centuries.
When everything changes, there are some things that still matter.
Speaker: Kara Powell
Topic: How the church responds changes how a generation sees God
What we do in worship services is so important. But think about what Scripture emphasizes and how Jesus spent His time.
If we’re spending 90% on what we do when we come together once a week, I think that’s lopsided
“When it comes to our time and energy the revolution focuses less on our worship services and more on our service of others.”
There has never been a better time to experiment and dream about what it means to serve others.
“Creativity is fueled by constraints.”
Social distancing doesn’t have to mean relational distancing.
Ask yourself: How do our churches resources overlap with the needs of our community?
One resource we have: Young people’s time
Young people don’t want to go to a meeting. They want to be part of a movement.
“A kid will get over what I teach them, but they will never get over what God does through them” (Reggie Joiner).
Main Session 3 had some great speakers on some very important topics. I would love to hear what some of your takeaways are. Leave a comment, contact me on Twitter, or join the conversation in the Orange Conference 2020 Attendees Facebook group.