2016 State of Children’s Ministry Survey

Aspen Grove

AspenGrove

Strong leaders look to data not only to measure where they’ve been, but to better understand where they are going. Right now is an exciting and rapidly changing time in children’s ministry—and Aspen Grove wants to unite leaders from all over the country to better understand what the future looks like as we serve the next generation.

In the spirit of cultivating the future church, Aspen Grove has partnered with CMConnectOneHope International, and many children’s ministry thought leaders to create the 2016 State of Children’s Ministry Survey.

Contribute Your Voice to the Survey

Orange Conference Follow-Along 2016

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This week I’ll be at The Orange Conference in Atlanta, GA seeing what is happening in and around the world of local church ministry to children, students, and families. I’ll be in breakouts, meeting with friends, and trying to update my social media feeds with those items that are curious, intriguing, and thoughtful.

Orange Leaders Blog

You’re accustomed to reading helpful leadership articles and event information from Orange Leaders blog. During conference, you’ll still receive detailed information about OC16, as well as information about Orange Tour and Orange Conference 2017, so check the blog daily. As well, they’re including recaps and notes on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday so that you’ll be able to take in some of the key concepts being presented this year. To easily see all of the posts related to OC16, click this category link.

Social Media Accounts to Follow

Whether you’re a preschool leader or a NextGen leader, Orange Leaders have accounts for you to follow on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and beyond. In addition to our brand accounts, our Orange Specialists each have Twitter accounts where you can connect, share, and learn helpful insights. There are so many ways to get the most out of the entire experience!

Recommended Searches for Those Not Attending OC16:

Twitter: #OC16Live – You’ll be watching the Live Stream at home, right? See below for details.
Twitter: #OC16
Instagram: Using the search feature indicated by the magnifying glass in the app, you can search for names, hashtags and subjects to see recent posts.
Facebook: In the search function at the top of the newsfeed, enter any search term or hashtag to find related posts.

Live Stream 

Once again, Orange is excited to offer non-attendees a Live Stream experience throughout OC16. Watch from the comfort of your home or office or favorite restaurant—provided that WiFi is available.

Be sure to RSVP today, and watch this blog for updates and the soon-to-be-released schedule!

Orange For the Leader

A few of the things that make me excited about Orange in 2016!

 

ORANGE IS SIMPLE. IT’S A STRATEGY. It’s a strategy that I’ve been involved with in some way or another for almost 10 years. Curriculum that fits nearly every church need, leadership tools to help you take it to a new level, and generally being a place of connection for myself and 1,000’s of others through the Orange Conference each Spring in Atlanta, GA.

Yet over the years as my role within the local church has changed, Orange has continued to tweak, adjust, and better themselves to reach homes and churches across the country.

Here are a few of the things I’ve noticed in the past few years:

reThink Leadership|| The Orange Conference has continued to reinvent itself over the years, and the best addition has been this unique attempt to connect senior leaders to each other. Imagine…leaders that reach our families connecting with each other in significant ways. This is a huge win for kid and student pastors!

Live to Serve || Orange has stepped up their game over the past 24 months as they’ve positioned themselves to influence the volunteers that make your ministries effective. Live to Serve exists to be an unique experience for Kidmin volunteers.

Orange Books || Orange Books publishes nonfiction, in long and short form, with the goal of helping churches influence those who influence the spiritual growth of the next generation. They partner with well-known and emerging leaders to bring you proven and practical strategies to maximize that influence.

 

Holy Interupptions

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When I was in the 1st or 2nd grade I heard the mother of my friend tell all of us in her Sunday school class that prayer was simply talking to God. She went on to tell us that each morning while getting ready in the bathroom, she would talk to God. So of course, I imagined a women putting on her makeup, brushing her hair, and having a two-way conversation with God. Great right?

Few weeks later, I’m spending the night with my friend, whose mother was our Sunday school teacher. Early that morning, I hear her in the bathroom so I sneak down the hall to give a listen. Guess what I heard. A woman talking to herself. She was praying, but my little 8-year-old heart was so disappointed to think that God didn’t talk to her every morning so I could hear too!

Now I’m much older, and I’ve learned that prayer is indeed something we do much more for our own hearts than it is something we do to inform God of exactly what we need.

But what is my challenge now? Now it’s learning to see prayer as something I do continually and not something that serves as a distraction to my already full day. 1 Thessalonians, chapter 5, Paul says two words in the midst of a short letter. He says we should, “Pray Continually.” What does this even mean? The only thing I do continually is breathe. Should prayer be as constant as breathing? Well the answer is yes…and no, but really yes.

Prayer should serve as continual interruption. It sits as a line of communication that is always open, always ready for us to engage with our Heavenly Father in a way that keeps us with him. Abiding with him. In his presence. I like that word, interruption. There’s some baggage there, let’s unpack it.

Last year I spent a long weekend with some Trappist Monks in the mountains of Georgia. Strange sentence, right? Let’s just say that I was in a place of my life that both allowed the margin to do such a thing and the curiosity to meet some very new and different friends.

In my time there I tried my best to observe the 7 set-in-stone prayer times throughout the day. I’d arise at 4:30am, then head back to bed while they ate breakfast, then come back at 7am for morning mass. We’d meet again for mid-day prayers at 12:15pm, gather for prayers before dinner at 5:20pm and finally compline, the last prayers of the day at 7:30pm.

In my few days with the monks I learned that prayer served as not the interruption to their lives, but as the life itself. The tasks of the day, the meals, the sleep (albeit very small quantities of it) served as the distractions to their real ambition. Prayer.

Sure, I could have walked away concerned with my own shallowness and lack of time or awareness to pray 7 times a day. Instead, I walked away with a great appreciation for the act of stopping. Our brothers and sister in Christ have called this the Divine Office, or the Daily Office for centuries. That moment when we stop, we listen, we engage, we read his Word aloud, we write what He impresses on our hearts, and we pray.

If we don’t make this Daily Office, this stop, happen; then God has a way of forcing us to. Almost 10 years ago I sat at the foot of my newborn daughters hospital bed praying for her health. It did not look good, things had been terrible. Easily the worst day of my life was watching my 5-day-old daughter stop breathing. I sat in that uncomfortable hospital rocker and prayed. I repeated the words to the song, “Mighty is the Power of the Cross.” Over and over the words to this song played in my heart.

In that moment, in that hospital room I watched my daughter struggle to make it in the world. I prayed myself to a point, where my prayers begin to change. The prayer of what the power of the cross meant for the physical well being of my daughter, began to be prayers of thankfulness for what the Cross meant to myself. Those prayers for my daughter begin to be prayers to God for what he had already done.

The interruption in my life changed me. My daughter she would recover, it would be a miracle that just a few days later we would walk out with that kid. Yes, God moved in her body, he healed her symptoms, and we are thankful. But this Father… I’m thankful for the interruption. Today I dare you to let yourself be interrupted. Learn to see the moments where you can stop, listen, and engage with a Father God that has pursued you even when you didn’t deserve it.

Praying Continually. He wants you with him always. It is my prayer that you let God interrupt you enough to remind you that he wants to know you, He wants you abiding with Him, He wants to see you changed through your knowledge of Him.

Community That Matters

Orange Conference 2016

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I prefer being with people that get what I get. I love being with leaders that lead in ways I want to lead. I need to hear from people doing what I’m doing in more effective ways. I want to listen to the stories of others making a difference, and making that difference in every imaginable context.

I’m a big believer in community that affects positive change in my life, and I can think of few opportunities where you could immerse yourself in a community of leaders that develops the kind of hope found at The Orange Conference in Atlanta, GA.

This Thursday, October 8th registration will open; and registration will not be cheaper than it will be on October 8. Register that day and save $80 off regular pricing and get Insider First Access to Breakouts! This offer only comes along once a year!