It’s almost time for the Orange Conference again! I’m headed back down to Atlanta from April 26-28, 2023, for my ninth conference.

It all started in April 2010. I was 2 1/2 years into my ministry at a new church, beginning to see momentum in the ministry, married for just over a year, and excited about the future. We had just begun using Orange’s kids and student curriculum at our church about a year before, we had learned about their vision for partnering with families, and we had heard good things about their conference. With all that in mind, our small church staff and key family ministry volunteers headed down to Atlanta for Orange Conference 2010. I learned so much that first year, and with the exception of only four years, I’ve continued to make OC an annual tradition.

So why would I continue going back to this same conference year after year?

I love the Orange philosophy.
Early in my ministry, I read books and heard people talk about the importance of parents in student ministry, but when I heard Orange leaders articulate it, I began to truly understand the why. Parents (and guardians) truly are the primary spiritual leaders in the home. As ministry leaders, we only see students a fraction of the time their parents see them. Orange taught me that it’s not just about letting parents know about our ministry, but we need to partner with them by getting to know them, pastor them, and combine efforts to disciple the next generation. It’s changed my approach to ministry over the years, and it’s allowed me to see entire families changed rather than just teenagers.

I’ve made some lifelong friends.
My youth pastor had several friends in ministry, and they would often hang out on their own but also partner in ministry and bring their youth groups together for events. I love that he modeled that for us, but early in my ministry, I didn’t know many people, especially when I moved from Illinois to New Hampshire. After spending time at OC10, though, I felt like I had a lot of acquaintances and a few new friends. And over the years, it’s gotten to where I now have a ton of acquaintances and a lot of friends, even getting to know many of the Orange staff and calling them friends. There’s just something about being around a group of like-minded people, worshipping together, learning together, and encouraging one another. I love that and I deeply desire that.

I need to continue growing.
I learned so many things from my youth ministry professor in college, but one of the best things I picked up from him was the importance of being a lifelong learner. I wasn’t done just because I received my degrees. I need to continue reading, listening, and observing the rest of my life. And something I appreciate about OC is the speakers they bring in for main session talks and workshops. Over the years, I’ve gotten to “sit at the feet” of some of the best Christian leaders and gain from their wisdom and experience. I’ve even met some of them, which was awesome! But while I haven’t sat down for lunch with most of them, I feel like I know them because of what they share and how they share it: through transparency, humility, and encouragement.

In the spirit of transparency, though, this conference is not for everyone. You do need to be someone who is passionate about kids, student, and family ministries. And you need to have an open mind, ready to hear some things you may not agree with or that will challenge you. Have I agreed 100% with everything I’ve heard? No, life is not like that. But OC is not an event that simply lets you stay where you are. And I have grown so much in terms of my perspective, because they do not stray away from the tough conversations.

Also, I know some of you are concerned with finances. Money doesn’t grow on trees, after all. The conference is not free, and most of you are too far away to drive in each day and sleep at home. If that’s the case, here are three quick tips to save some money:

  1. Use my promo code, STEVE10, when you check out to save 10%. This code works on both individual and group tickets. Register here.
  2. Consider volunteering for the conference. You’ll get a free ticket, and you’ll also get an opportunity so serve others. Sign up here for 2023.
  3. Share the load. When you carpool and/or share an AirBnB, it’s much easier. And if you don’t know anyone, check out the Orange Leaders group on Facebook.

If you do join us, please be sure to say hi if you see me. I’d love to meet you in person!

Also, whether you are attending or not, you can follow me on social media, because I’ll be tweeting and posting quite a bit during the event!

The theme of OC23 is “See You Tomorrow: Keeping Faith Alive.”

“In a generation overwhelmed by conflict, fear, trauma, skepticism, depression, and uncertainty the church’s role is more important than ever.”

If you want to learn more about the theme, check out the video. Also feel free to click the button below the video to visit their website, register, and learn more.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.