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

OC Follow

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.

 

Community That Matters

Orange Conference 2016

OC16_WebTiles_Ext_Now_430x170

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!

How to Lead a Team to Excellence

...and how not to lead a team to excellence.

Orange Excellence

Growing up, I loved a movie that involved two ridiculously dumb teenagers, Bill and Ted, which traversed the entire story of time in a time machine they found outside of a Circle-K. Every time they’d see something they liked, they’d look at each other and say “Excellent!” While their version of excellence was dripping with surfer and valley attitude, my own version of excellent has often left others wondering what I meant.

While I’d love to travel back in time like Bill and Ted, I cannot. Instead I’m one that has had to learn from my mistakes. One mistake I’ve often made as a leader is how I went about leading others on my team toward excellence. I would move too fast, not explain the steps toward excellence, and generally expect those on my teams to read my mind and do what I was thinking. My experience has taught me one very important truth. There is a better way to lead a team toward excellence.

The first step toward excellence is to communicate clearly what excellence is for your team. Every team is unique, every church is distinct, and every individual is different. Spend time defining what you’re looking for and how what you’re doing now will look different when it’s done with excellence. This step is worth spending weeks, and maybe even months, in developing the answer. Considering where your organization’s leadership has been before, where they are at now, and how they are growing in the future can help you begin to communicate clearly to your team where you need, and expect, to see excellence happen.

The next step into leading a team toward excellence is to connect your team to where you see excellence currently. What you dream for your team is probably happening on some level in other places, and it could even be within your own organization.

A few ideas here include:

  • Identify that person on your team who is an A+ volunteer recruiter and let them share their strategies in a team meeting. This will bring attention to what she does in a vocal way; and set up the rest of the team for the expectations you have of them.
  • Find another team doing what you believe you can do with your team, and make that connection happen. Take that other church staff out to lunch, on your dime, and make the connections a tangible thing. Make time to Skype in that leader from across the county and introduce their strategy of excellence to your team in a quick way.
  • Assign those on your team who need to be better, to connect with leaders and organizations that they themselves respect and see if you can get what they respect about others to rub off on their own methods and strategies.

There is excellence all around us, and as a leader it becomes your burden to connect your own team with what is out there to learn from. This may be one of the most important long-term steps you take as a leader of a team, helping everyone develop relationships that challenge the way we do things in our organizations.

The last step to truly establishing a team of excellence is to set a realistic path toward excellence. Many leaders live in their world of visions, dreams, and big plans; and skip over the more obvious questions their team is asking.

For example:

  • “What do I do now?”
  • “How does what I’ve heard and seen help me prepare for next weekend?”
  • “Could this ever happen here?”
  • “Does what I see and hear have a place in my organization?”

Not taking the time to answer the “What now?” questions for your team will leave them disillusioned and unsure of what you will be holding them accountable to. Great leaders make sure they keep themselves tethered to the “what’s realistic” part of leadership as well. Your church, your team, and your ideas won’t always play nice; and as the leader it becomes your important job to help everyone manage each other in a respectful way.

A leader of excellence takes the time to help their team see what excellence can look like for them. A leader who wants excellence in their team will go to great lengths to find and connect others to those they should be most invested in, their own team. A great leader works to break down the vision into steps that are doable, realistic, and yet challenging at the same time. The leader of an excellent team helps everyone see where their current work is helping them achieve excellence and where their current work isn’t.

It’s not a job for the fainthearted, but it is the job of a leader seeking excellence in how they engage others in the story of God’s Son, Jesus. You could travel all through time and still wouldn’t find a more important story to tell. It’s excellent!