About four or five years ago I got intensely frustrated with the Children’s Ministry conference experience. I took a few people on my staff to a national conference and it was such a disappointment. We’d individually visit 2-3 breakouts each session before finding one that was of any quality. The main sessions we’re hit and miss. By the last day, my team and I stopped attending anything and just dreamed, planned and had some fun. We redeemed it in spite of a less than spectacular experience. It was after that experience that I looked into attending the Orange Conference. What was the initial attraction? It wasn’t the Orange strategy… I didn’t know what it was then. I was actually perplexed by the name “Orange.” What’s up with that? It wasn’t their curriculum either, I’d never used it.

Simply put, it was the line up of speakers. All my heros in Children’s Ministry and ministry at large were speaking at Orange. That’s why I chose to attend Orange.

That first year, I paid for Orange myself. I hadn’t started working at Gateway yet, so it was a personal investment. I had a lot riding on the experience being amazing. I was not disappointed!

There are so many great reasons to attend Orange, but the speaker lineup is always top notch. I’ve had powerful experiences in both breakouts as well as in the main sessions. That is the mark of a great conference.

So, my favorite speaker? That’s a really hard choice. I’m going to pick two, but I must say that this is hard because I have amazing memories (and notes) of speakers who inspired and challenged me.

Breakout: Nancy Ortberg on Conflict.

I attended this breakout 3 years ago and it remains the most influential breakout I’ve ever attended. To be honest, this breakout was better than most keynotes. It was incredibly challenging and every time I encounter conflict with staff or someone I’m leading, my thoughts always go back to this experience. I’m not going to repost all my notes, but you can read them here!

Keynote: Doug Fields

This one was hard, but I think the keynote Doug gave last year has stood out in my mind because it was remarkably different from any other keynote I’ve heard at Orange. The bottom line? Focus on your own darn family! None of us have trouble pouring our life and time and energy into our ministries, but almost all of us find ourselves struggling to prioritize our own families. This was a refreshing talk that has stuck with me since I heard it. Here are my notes from that session.

So, have you registered yet? In case you forgot how, just click here and register for you and your team!