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.