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Unwelcome Distractions

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When did parents and children become responsible for someone not hearing from God?

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Revisiting Orange 2010 – Mark Batterson

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When something is new and fresh, it is easy to be captivated by it. The imagination soars when opened up to visions and dreams. Too soon, the realities of life come knocking on our door and attach weights of the urgent and the immediate taming that flighty imagination to something doable.

I can’t tell you how many time in ministry that has happened. You go to a conference, read a book, spend some time at a retreat, dream with a ministry friend and begin to have new visions for what could be. Then, you sit at your desk bombared with schedules, curriculum, meetings and not enough time to walk the hundred or so feet it takes to go empty your bladder. You shelve those dreams vowing to get to them when you have more time, more volunteers, more staff…

As I looked over my notes from Mark Batterson’s interview at Orange 2010, I was struck once again by the points he made about imagination:

  • Somewhere along doing ministry we lose our imagination.
  • We stop doing ministry out of imagination and begin doing it out of memory.
  • We stop creating the future and begin repeating the past.

Doing ministry out of imagination takes courage and hard work. We will never have that extra time to do those things we wish we could do.

It’s been about 6 months since Orange 2010. What are some of those things that kindled a new passion within you that you shelved once you got home? What’s keeping you from taking the steps needed to pursue those dreams? How are you setting up your life and your ministry so that you can live out of a God-given imagination rather than a reasonable memory?

What’s the point of having your imagination given freedom to take flight at places like the Orange Conference if you aren’t going to do something about it? You might as well stay home and put that time and money into something that you know will work.

Don’t forget to check out Orange 2011. Registration has already begun. If you haven’t attended, then you need to put April 27-29, 2011 on your calendars and plan on attending!

Other posts in the Revisiting Orange 2010 series:

Original Revisiting Orange 2010 introduction post
Revisiting Orange 2010… Take Two!
Revisiting Orange 2010 – Doug Fields
Revisiting Orange 2010 – Perry Noble
Revisiting Orange 2010 – Nancy Ortberg
Revisiting Orange 2010 – John Ortberg

Revisiting Orange 2010 – John Ortberg

(picture originally uploaded to Flickr by Jeremy Brooks)

My family recently did something crazy and left an amazing church to move back to Northern California. We’ve landed in Fremont, which is next door to the cities my wife and I grew up in. Fremont is also a quick trip over the Dumbarton Bridge to Menlo Park Presbyterian where John Ortberg is the senior pastor. Unfortunately, we haven’t made our way over there, but I plan to!

John followed his wife Nancy at Orange and began his talk by asking everyone a question:

“What is the fastest growing religious faith in America?”

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Shining a Light on Being Orange

(photo originally uploaded to Flickr by Shyam Subramaniam)

Orange is made up of two colors: red and yellow. In the Orange Philosophy, red represents the family. Yellow represents the church. I really like the image Reggie Joiner uses in Think Orange of the church being like the lampstand that was placed in the Old Testament tabernacle casting it’s light upon God’s Word.

I agree with Sam Luce that in our quest to be Orange, many times we let our desires to partner with parents and provide parents with the tools they need to be the best spiritual parents they can be, we forget that the prime directive of the church is to point people to Jesus. The church needs to be that light which illuminates the Word.

How do we do that, though? How does the church shine a light on Jesus so that families and everyone else can see him clearly? What is our role as the church in pointing the way to Christ? (HT: Christine Yount)

When you take a look at the resources out there in Christian publishing world, there is a lot of information! We have no lack of information. Church curriculums are modeled after traditional educational models of passing on information to students. We are told what Bible stories children need to know, what verses they need to learn and what lessons they should be gleaning. We even prescribe ways they can continue to ingest the information and then give them prizes for being able to regurgitate all of that information. For the past couple hundred years, the church has worked on the assumption that he best way to illuminate Jesus was to pass on right knowledge. The problem with that model is that right information does not necessarily lead to right transformation.

In our desires to become more Orange, churches need to refocus their light and facilitate transformation. Information is important. Biblical literacy is important! But gorging people on right teaching will not automatically produce life transformation. We need to illuminate Christ and then allow the Holy Spirit room to do what only he can do: transform.

We need to point people to the Story of God… a story of the redemption of creation. We need to encourage people to find their place in that Story. It is a Story that should move us to action in the world around us.

  • What are some ways you make room for the Holy Spirit to transform lives?
  • Do you have transformational goals for those in your church? What are they?
  • How can a church make the shift from an informational model of discipleship to a transformational one?

Don’t forget to check out Orange 2011. Registration begins next Tuesday, October 5. If you haven’t attended, then you need to put April 27-29, 2011 on your calendars and plan on attending! If you register on October 5, then you only pay $240 per person! That is a $60 per person savings! Don’t miss out!

Revisiting Orange 2010 – Nancy Ortberg

(photo originally uploaded to Flickr by Imagine24)

Ever since listening to an interview of Nancy Ortberg on the Catalyst Podcast, I’ve been a fan. I’ve also picked up her book (actually the audiobook) Unleashing the Power of Rubber Bands. If you are in leadership, it’s a must read full of insights into young leaders. It was great to finally be able to hear her in person at Orange 2010.

In her brief talk, Nancy shared three great insights into building great leaders:

  • Collaborate and give people opportunities to lead in the areas of their giftedness. Leadership isn’t about hogging the spotlight.
  • Give people challenges that will cause them to stretch and grow. Nancy highlighted one area of doing this was in the context of conflict. She said that conflict done correctly can bring challenges to light in a way that will cause individuals and organizations to grow.
  • Create an environment of relationships. With relationships comes trust. With trust comes growth.

I really liked how Nancy concluded her talk with a great reason as to the importance of building great leaders:

“Every effort you put into building your team will mean better leadership, better results, deeper connection to God.”

  • In the months since coming home from Orange 2010, what changes have you made to build better teams?
  • Do you agree with Nancy’s summation about building better teams?
  • What are some ways you build your teams?

Don’t forget to check out Orange 2011. Registration begins next Tuesday, October 5. If you haven’t attended, then you need to put April 27-29, 2011 on your calendars and plan on attending! If you register on October 5, then you only pay $240 per person! That is a $60 per person savings! Don’t miss out!

Other posts in the Revisiting Orange 2010 series:

Original Revisiting Orange 2010 introduction post
Revisiting Orange 2010… Take Two!
Revisiting Orange 2010 – Doug Fields
Revisiting Orange 2010 – Perry Noble
Revisiting Orange 2010 – John Ortberg
Revisiting Orange 2010 – Mark Batterson

Getting to the Heart of Orange

(photo originally uploaded to Flickr by esperanza277)

At the heart of Orange is the family, which is represented by the color red. While there are many influences out there (media, celebrity, friends, school, etc.) shaping children, the greatest influence still is the family. We have to be careful, though, of what we think of when we think “family.” Most of us in church world, immediately have a picture of a mom, a dad, two kids and a dog (because they’re better than cats) living in a single family home with a two cars parked out front (one, most likely, being a minivan). We conjure up images of soccer games, homework, and family outings. It’s not a perfect family, per se, but it is a happy family.

This image we have of family colors our interactions with the families we minister to at our churches. This image dictates our expectations of the families we minister to. This image dictates the programming we plan and the curriculum we choose. This image colors our view of families who don’t fit that image. Is it any wonder that most of us are disappointed by parents?

Families are at the heart of what it means to be Orange. Before we can move forward with becoming more Orange in our approach to ministry, we need to get a more accurate picture of that heart. Families come in all shapes and sizes: families with single parents, blended families, multiple families living under one roof, grandparents raising grandchildren, ethnic families, traditional families, families with two moms or two dads… and that’s just the beginning of a list of the many types of families we have the privilege of ministering to.

Once we have a better picture of the heart of Orange, we need to stop beating that heart up and begin to build it up. When I first began working in children’s ministry almost twenty years ago as a volunteer, I quickly learned that parents were the problem. If there was a challenging kid, we’d meet the parents and tell ourselves, “Yup! That it explains it!” For the years that followed, including my first few years as a full time children’s pastor, I was frustrated with parents and how clueless they were about putting God first and making sure their kids came to church regularly. Then eleven years ago, something changed… I became a parent.

In the months and years that followed the birth of my oldest son, I began interacting with other parents. I began listening to their hearts, their struggles, their desires… I began to see parents who loved their children dearly. I began to see parents who were doing the best they could with what they had and still feeling like they were failures. I began to see parents who were being told by every parenting magazine, TV show, expert, and even the church that what they were doing was, at best, not enough and, at worst, damaging their children. I began to see parents who were willing to sacrifice themselves to meet the demands of all these messages even if, in the end, it meant they were still miserable failures.

When pursuing an Orange approach to ministry, we need to remember that the family is the heart. It is a fragile, broken and beaten up heart. It’s a heart that deeply cares for it’s children… much more than we could. It’s a heart that needs to be picked up from the dirt, brushed off, and restored. Parents need to know what they are doing right when it comes to passing on faith, even if the only thing they are doing is bringing their kids to church! They could choose to simply forego God altogether. We need to encourage them in what they are already doing. We need to build relationships with them. We need to see them as fellow humans who are trying to figure out what this God-thing is all about. Imagine the potential impact on families in our communities if we become the one place where parents aren’t beat up and told they are screwing up their children if they are doing A, B and C. Imagine the influence we can have if we become the one place in our communities where parents are affirmed, encouraged and then equipped in realistic ways to become better.

Family is at the heart of being Orange. It’s time we stop trying to replace that heart with an artificial one.

  • What are some ways this week that you can begin to build real relationships with parents?
  • What are some ways we can build parents up rather than tear them down?
  • Most parents already know they are doing “it” wrong. What can we do to point to the things they are doing right?

Revisiting Orange 2010 – Perry Noble

(photo originally uploaded to Flickr by Vaguely Artistic)

The next general session we’ll be looking at as we revisit Orange 2010 is the one where Perry Noble spoke.

Perry Noble aimed his talk at senior pastors and shared his seven values when it comes to family ministry:

  1. Family Ministry has the most potential of all other ministries in the church.
  2. In order for Family Ministry to be successful, the senior pastor must be behind it.
  3. Senior Pastors need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and let their family ministry teams do what it takes to reach families.
  4. Environments matter. Children and Student Ministries should be the best place for kids to be.
  5. Keep it simple. Don’t overprogram.
  6. Tension and conflict must be addressed immediately no matter what.
  7. You must have the right people in the right places.

Perry set forth a pretty straightforward challenge for senior pastors to cast vision, empower their teams, and wholeheartedly support family ministries.

While I think that many senior pastors need to take Perry’s points to heart, I couldn’t help but take issue with a side point that, I believe, he made too big a deal of. Re-listening to his talk at Orange still rubbed me the wrong way… maybe even more so. While talking about the importance of environments, Perry made a point of a policy at his church that doesn’t allow children in their services. I probably wouldn’t have been so taken aback by the policy except that he spent too much time making a bigger deal of his church’s policy than need be. There was no need to mention the policy let alone diverge on a four-minute rant trying to rationalize and overspiritualize a policy that, in my opinion, sends a message to adults that children are lesser beings who are mere distractions to them being able to receive their God-fix for the week and communicates to children that they can only become full members of their spiritual community when they reach adulthood. I’m not saying that we abolish children’s services and have all ages together. What I am saying is that a policy that explicitly excludes children from a church’s “main” service is overkill and having to make a point of justifying the policy, ridiculing those who might disagree, is disingenuous at best.

  • If you were at Orange, what did you think of Perry’s talk? What did you take back with you?
  • If your senior pastor was at Orange 2010 with you, how did your senior pastor react to the talk?
  • If you were not at Orange, what kind of support (if any) do you have from your senior pastor?

Don’t forget to check out Orange 2011. Registration begins next Tuesday, October 5. If you haven’t attended, then you need to put April 27-29, 2011 on your calendars and plan on attending! If you register on October 5, then you only pay $240 per person! That is a $60 per person savings! Don’t miss out!

Other posts in the Revisiting Orange 2010 series:

Original Revisiting Orange 2010 introduction post
Revisiting Orange 2010… Take Two!
Revisiting Orange 2010 – Doug Fields
Revisiting Orange 2010 – Nancy Ortberg
Revisiting Orange 2010 – John Ortberg
Revisiting Orange 2010 – Mark Batterson

Seeing Orange This Week?

(photo originally uploaded to Flickr by inabeanpod)

Please do not adjust your computer screen. If your newsreader seems to be spitting out a lot of orange this week, have no fear. You have not been transported to a new dimension where all you see or read about is orange. It’s Orange Week! Last year, Kenny Conley dedicated an entire week to blogging about a philosophy put out by Reggie Joiner and the people over at ReThink called Orange.

If you are unfamiliar with Orange, it is the idea that in order to effectively pass on faith to kids the home (represented by the color red) and the church (represented by the color yellow) need to combine forces (thus getting the color orange). That’s the official Henry Zonio paraphrase. For a more comprehensive explanation of Orange, check out whatisorange.org.

When I set up my blogging schedule to look back at the general sessions from Orange 2010, I was unaware that this same week would be Orange Week. Funny how that works out… If you haven’t already, I encourage you to follow all the amazing bloggers who are a part of this year’s blogging event. You can check out a list of the bloggers as well as a schedule of topics over at ChildrensMinistryOnline. I’ll still be putting up my Revisiting Orange 2010 posts this week, but I will also throw in some other posts contributing to Orange Week. Boy, what a way to jump back into blogging!

I’d love to hear from you!

  • What are you doing to combine the influences of church and home to pass on faith to kids?
  • What challenges have you come up against when trying to partner with parents?

Don’t forget to check out Orange 2011. Registration begins next Tuesday, October 5. If you haven’t attended, then you need to put April 27-29, 2011 on your calendars and plan on attending! If you register on October 5, then you only pay $240 per person! That is a $60 per person savings! Don’t miss out!

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