Archive for April, 2013

The Future of NextGen and Family Ministry

Posted on 26. Apr, 2013 by .

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My 5th Orange Conference has been a very different experience. For years I've been coming to learn and gather with others who are seeking ways to better partner with families and impact kids and students. That was a common thread this year as well, but the difference was a specific focus on connecting with other NextGen and Family Ministry Pastors and Directors. Wow, what an experience. Five years ago I came to Orange only days before beginning my new role as a NextGen Pastor at Gateway Church. At that point in time, I only knew three people who did what I did, and I only had a relationship with one of them. About 6 months ago, I started putting a list together of other NextGen and Family Ministry people and quickly got to 30-40 people. However, in the last two weeks, my list has jumped north of 200 names. WOW! Something is happening here! My emphasis this week has been about connecting with these people and it's been a very successful week. NextGen and Family leader have come out of the woodwork. Now, it helped that we led a NextGen leader track at Orange and I got to host or speak at each of these breakouts. I added many people to my list from conversations after breakouts. Yesterday, I was interviewed on the Orange live stream and after talking about my list of NextGen leaders, I got tweets from 6-10 additional people. Lastly, I was able to have breakfast with 25-30 of some of the sharpest NextGen leaders I've ever met. We talked about our biggest challenges, our biggest needs and what beginning a conversation might actually look like. I can't tell you how excited I am about what is coming for this obscure, new and rapidly role that is so significant for so many churches. So, I know that most of the people who read this blog are children's pastors. However, if you happen to be  NextGen or Family Ministry Pastor (primarily defined as a staff role that has direct oversite of both kids and student ministry), I'd love to add you to my list. Just contact me on this blog or send me a tweet. There's a little info I'd like to get from you. Ornagebanner

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Orange Legacy App

Posted on 25. Apr, 2013 by .

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Orange released a new app yesterday. It's both frightening, amazing and depressing all at the same time. Whatever emotion you feel, it's a truth that no parent should ignore. We have limited time. Below I have put in both of my kids. Wow! Time is ticking away! imageimage_1 This app allows you to put in a child's birthdate and it estimates the time left until their graduation. It is a visual representation of the time we have left to influence a child before they leave home. You can also add in specific events and see the countdown until that day. When you see the time you have left, you get serious about the time you have now. Download the app right here. Ornagebanner

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Orange 2013 Kicks Off

Posted on 24. Apr, 2013 by .

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Orange 2013 kicks off right now with a fusion of old school DC Talk with a dubstep vibe... very cool. You can watch live right now here. This is a no miss session, Reggie Joiner is going to talk about focus... specifically how it relates to the time we have left as kids grow up and we run out of time. Updates to come later, but don't miss it! Ornagebanner

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Orange Reflections

Posted on 23. Apr, 2013 by .

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Orange memoriesOrange 2013 is a big one for me. It was almost exactly 5 years ago that I attended my first Orange Conference. Six months earlier, I had been let go from my previous church in a massive down-sizing. I was in a bit of limbo as I knew that God had called me to Children's Ministry, but just jumping  into another Children's Pastor job didn't seem like the right move. Even though I didn't yet have a job, I made plans to attend the Orange Conference. As I dove into what the Orange Strategy was, I was overwhelmed. The principles that Orange was wrestling with were the issues that frustrated me most about ministry in the local church. YES, this was exactly where I needed to be. As I got closer to that first conference, I was hired as the NextGen Pastor of Gateway Church in a position that was best suited to leverage a strategy like Orange. I drove to Atlanta five years ago so excited... as if everything was about to change. Oh how it has!

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Orange 13 begins tomorrow… or has it already begun

Posted on 23. Apr, 2013 by .

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Although the big event begins tomorrow, my brain is already pretty full. I flew in on Saturday with my student pastor and we've been learning ever since. We spent pretty much all day at North Point on Sunday. Four services total. I got to devote one service to early childhood, one service to elementary, attend a service and then a final service to high school. Actually, we didn't get a lot of time in high school because Kevin, the HS multi-site director of North Point was very generous and literally sat down with us for about 2 hours. The information we left with was priceless. On Monday, we made the trip over to Athen's, GA to visit my good friend Jonathan Cliff. He's the NextGen Pastor at Athen's Church, a North Point strategic partner. It's always good to hang out with my friend Jonathan, but I think the time we spent at his campus may be the most memorable part of my trip (still 4-5 days left, so I'll let you know when it's over). What an amazing church they have in Athens. I've seen very few churches that are as focused and intentional about everything that they do... from programing to graphics to the way they use and decorate their offices. Next time I'm in ATL for a weekend, I'm spending a Sunday at Athens. Well, tomorrow begins with pre conference breakouts. I start with a breakout on how to lead a NextGen meeting and then I'm hosting Michael Bayne's breakout Leading 360 Degrees and Powell Grisham's breakout on delegation. It's going to be an amazing day. Stay tuned, more to come... Ornagebanner

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Good Friday Family Event: Summary

Posted on 18. Apr, 2013 by .

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If you've visited this site in the past two weeks, you've probably seen something about the Good Friday event we held almost three weeks ago. I didn't hold anything back, everything we did is here. Below I'll post all the links to the individual posts for quick reference. I must say that this past Easter was the best Easter weekend experience I can remember. From Good Friday to Saturday and Sunday Easter services with our Family Egg-a-Palooza in the middle, it was hands down amazing. No doubt about it, we'll do the Good Friday experience again. As a team, we've talked about just making some slight modifications to what we did this year and improve the whole experience  We can change the content enough that it would feel new and unique, maybe changing out one or two of the stations. The idea that came to us for the next version of the Family Good Friday Experience is where the event is more like a scavenger hunt. Rather than getting stamps in a passport, families are seeking pieces to a larger puzzle that will come together after they have visited all the stations that we've put in place. It could be a new twist. I've also decided that we will have a phone app to pull this off. We're in the process of building the content of a Family portal on our website for all things kids/students and resources at Gateway which would easily translate to a mobile app. The Good Friday Family Experience next year could be the perfect opportunity to launch the app. Regardless, we will use the app in parent's phone to scan QR codes throughout the event to link to videos that will tell families more about each station. The more ways we can engage families, the better. Below are the links in this series:

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Good Friday: Meaning of the Mystery

Posted on 16. Apr, 2013 by .

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All the stations as part of the Good Friday Family Experience were great hands on environments that introduced kids to the events of Holy Week, but without focus, they could all seem fairly random as well. It was very important that there was an opportunity to bring all the pieces together and connect the dots. That was the point of the station, Meaning of the Mystery. This was a veyr simple station, We took one of our large group environments, turned down the lights and used colored LED lights to create atmosphere and only light a very small section of the stage so that there were no distractions and only one focal point. Every came in every 20 minutes and sat on the floor around the stage. Our smallest group was about 25-30 and our largest was a little over 100. We did 6 in all though. It was essentially a 12-15 minute talk that brought all the pieces together. On the stage I had 5 boxes. A heart was in the first, an apple in the second, a stuffed animal lamb in the third, a crown in the forth and a cross in the 5th. Over the 12-15 minutes, a story was told using an element from each box to support the story. This technique kept the kids engaged to the story because there was a new visual every 2-3 minutes with anticipation for the next one and it connected to much of what they had just experienced.

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Good Friday: Bag of Silver Craft Tent

Posted on 15. Apr, 2013 by .

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Okay, this wasn't really a craft tent. We started with an idea and it morphed as we got closer to the event. The betrayal of Jesus for 30 pieces of silver was a major event of Holy Week, so we wanted to connect the kids to this as well. So, we decided to order little pouches and a bunch of silver coins. That might be an understatement. We planned for 500 kids, so we ordered 15,000 silver coins. Let me tell you, 15,000 of anything is a crazy! It was awesome. We had a treasure chest box, so we filled it to overflowing with the pouches easily accessible to the sides. photo Here's the idea we went with. Judas had a weakness... money. For him he had a price and that happened to be 30 pieces of sliver. The scriptures state that there may have been some things that happened that week that were outside Judas' control (that's a completely different conversation), but I'm convinced that things happened the way that they did with Judas because of a an area of sin that he didn't have under control. The love and temptation of money was too much for him to handle. As families entered the room, our hosts (who were a cross between used car salesmen and game show hosts) interacted with everyone. The promised money (silver coins) to perform various actions in front of the crowd. Many kids did the chicken dance for a few pieces of plastic, several adults recited all the words they knew to variou 80's hits. It was fun, but then the point was made that in the same way we can all be convinced to do something embarrassing or funny, Judas was temped to do something unspeakable, and he did it. Kids went into the tent, grabbed a pouch and counted out 30 pieces of silver. Once they got their coins, they had time to read through the passport page about this station and discuss the questions.

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Good Friday: Passover Meal

Posted on 15. Apr, 2013 by .

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One of the stations we were most excited about was the Passover Meal. What happened at this important meal was huge. Too often, the topic of the last supper is cut short. Sure, it's important because that is where Jesus did the first communion and it is where the story gets really interesting when Jesus rats out Judas with his plan to betray him. These are important parts of the overall plot, but there is so much more to this meal than those things and we wanted to capture that in this station. On several occasions, we referred to this station as a seder meal, but there were several who cautioned us against using that term in particular. This meal is very significant to the Jewish faith and we wanted to make sure we didn't dishonor it. Instead, this station was simply about teaching what happened at the Passover Meal. With the number of kids coming through this event, we considered many options on how to create a meaningful experience. I wanted to do whatever was possible to get the actual food on the table in front of these kids. I wanted to engage their sight, touch, smell and taste. It was a big hit as both parents and their kids walked out knowing so much. image (4) We had fun with this breakout. We decorated the room to look like a 1st century dinner. We got 8 foot tables and put two of them side to side so that we could comfortably seat 12 people at each table. We covered with table clothes and burlap accents. We put the LED candles on every table and adjusted the room's stage lights to light up each table with a soft glow. The room was incredibly inviting. At the front, we set up a cooking station where Chris, our Student Pastor would lead the station. We made it to look and feel like a cooking show. Chris wore what a chef would wear, he had stainless steel tables, food processors and even a cutting board with a "cutting cam." We literally took one of our video cameras, hung it above the cooking area and displayed the image on the screen to the right of the stage. Chris could show the entire room what he was preparing just by holding it over the cutting board. It was so much fun, everyone LOVED it!

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Allergy Alert: Food Safety at Church

Posted on 15. Apr, 2013 by .

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Today, we had a slight emergency. It was a great reminder about how carful we need to be in so many aspects of Children's Ministry. Every Sunday, we provide snacks like Cheerios and Goldfish to our preschool kids. To save money, we usually buy generic. We've been buying the generic version of Cheerios from a local grocery store for a couple of years now. However, a long-term volunteer brought a grave concern to us today. He said, "are you aware that the cheerios we're feeding the kids could be contaminated with peanuts?" He handed us the box and there it was. Box Warning For years, we've been unaware. Probably lucky though, we currently don't have any kids who are crazy allergic to peanuts, but I've had kids in the past who were. There's not even a guarantee that a kid with peanut allergies would be affected by this product, but it could happen. So, we quickly pulled all the boxes and ran to the store and grabbed the name brand boxes (after checking the fine print of course). You can never be too careful. Read the fine print and hold safety as a top priority!  

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