Special Orange Track at CPC 2013

CPC 2013
I am so excited about some of my favorite things all coming together in January of next year. I’ve been a huge fan of all things ORANGE for years now, and an even bigger advocate of small groups and those that lead them. I’m also highly invested in making the 2013 Children’s Pastor Conference one of the best places to take your team. For those reasons, I’m thrilled to share that both CPC and Orange are coming together for a special Orange tour experience at CPC.  There will be breakouts concentrating on their new Lead Small initiative and developing Small Group Leaders for children and preschool ministry.

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Lead Small - the key to mobilizing an authentic faith in the next generation.  Every stage of life needs a unique kind of influence. So, how do we create a culture in the church where small groups can thrive? How do we coach small group leaders to embrace their role in discipling a generation? You’ll walk away from this one day pre-con experience with practical tips to help you effectively hand off a timeless mission to a new generation.
Here are the breakouts available at CPC, all being taught by  Terry Scalzitti. There will be an entire team from Orange that will be there to answer any questions you have about Lead Small and all other things Orange!
5 Catalysts for Spiritual Formation
You’re invited to an interactive experience to discuss the key components on how the spiritual formation of the next generation takes place. We’ll take a look at 5 catalysts that spark transformation in a person’s life.
Lead Small  
We believe Small Group Leaders are one of the keys to a child’s spiritual formation.  Filled with practical application for small group leaders or working with small group leaders – you’ll walk away challenged, encouraged and renewed to do for a few what you wish you could do for many.
Why Structure is Important?
Groups will never work until we work like groups are important. We’ll dive into how to structure your Monday – Friday schedule to work on the things that will make your groups thrive on Sunday. This breakout is chocked full of easy, practical tips.
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Guest Post: Raising Kids the World Will Hate

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I wanted to share a great post by Adam Griffin, the Student Minister at The Village Church. As a parent that prays longs prayers about the future of my sons and daughter; I found this recent blog post to be a real eye-opener. Enjoy!

When I was a boy, my dad asked me, What do you want to be when you grow up? To which I frankly answered (quite adorably no doubt), A daddy. When my relentlessly realistic dad informed me that no one would pay me to be a father, I told him that I would gladly pay myself.

In 2011 my dream of being a father came true when my son, Oscar, was born. Since that day my hopes and dreams have shifted to what Oscar will be when he grows up. Of course, I like to imagine him growing up handsome, talented, godly and kind, but there s no way to really know yet. I can be fairly certain he ll have an affinity for Texas A&M and the Green Bay Packers. There s little doubt that he ll have a disappointing hairline, love to eat and sweat even when it s cold. For the most part, however, I ll just have to wait and see who he grows up to be.

I often daydream about what a great guy he might be and how well loved he ll be by others. I daydream that coaches, teachers and pastors will approve of him and even be impressed by him. I envision his peers holding him in high esteem, wanting him around all the time. I imagine that the generation that follows him will admire him. I hold tightly to the thought that, as he becomes a man, he will grow in favor among any and all he comes into contact with. Some of these desires are healthy, and some are prideful.

I have a strong, and certainly not uncommon, desire for my child to be validated by the love of other people. Most parents want their son or daughter to be a lovable person, and it s that desire that makes  John 15:19so important and so transformative when it comes to the way we prepare our children for the future. Christ tells His disciples, If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. It s not just  John 15:19, either. There are many Scriptures  that describe the adversarial relationship that God s followers will have with those who are not believers.

Reading this, I realized that if God answers my prayer for my son to be a follower of Christ, people will hate him. People will absolutely, unquestionably be repulsed by my son.

To read the  entirety  of this article please visit:  http://www.thevillagechurch.net/the-village-blog/raising-kids-the-world-will-hate  

 

Athens, I Love You

Did you know I live in Georgia? At the end of August, I transitioned out to Athens, Georgia and went on staff at the aptly named Athens Church. It was a long journey to get us to Athens, but it was the right journey to go on. I’d love to tell you some great things about this church God has planted my family in.

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It’s making a community impact. Athens Church gives and we work hard to make it easy for others as well. Being a part of something like BE RICH this holiday season, has been one of the most impactful family experiences of my life. People have given thousands of dollars, boat loads of food, and probably most inspiring our church has given 100’s of community service hours to our community by donating our time.

It’s growing, and it growing at a rate that demands new space for family ministries. So, that’s what we’re doing. We are making more room for more people. If you want to know more, I’d encourage you to visit the Room to Grow project page.

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It’s winning in the area of small groups. We have some challenges, as we all do; but every week I get to hear story after story of people joining and growing through community groups. We start our groups with toddlers, and encourage all that go to Athens Church to make the investment in a group experience.

There is life change. Real life change. I’ve seen over 200 people baptized on one Sunday, I’ve listened to addicts speak of God’s saving power, and I’ve watched as children and students alike have stepped out to follow Christ. It’s so encouraging to hear the stories that come out of this church and these people.

Family Ministry matters. It’s what we want to be known for, and it’s what we do very well. Upon walking into Athens Church every age, and every family is encountered with our commitment to kids and students. Our environments are amazing, and only getting better.

So that’s where we are, and how we’re living here in Athens. Thankful that God does great things and that he lets me be a part of something so very special.

 

The Risk of Small Groups

Lead Small

I’ve recently been reading through Lead Small, by Reggie Joiner and Tom Shefchunas. Lead Small is unique in that it is written for the small group leader. It walks the reader through 5 big ideas that every small group leader needs to know. I recommend it, and recommend the conversations that come from it with our small group leaders!

I believe that kids and students need relationships to grow spiritually, and I’ve worked hard everywhere I’ve ever served to create a system that breeds leaders leaning into kids through relationships. I could insert story after story after story here of how God has fully changed a students life through a small group leader. I sit in meetings every Monday morning, and listen to stories of small group wins pour in from every family ministry area of our church. I believe it works, and I believe it enough to prioritize it for all 3 of my kids (not to mention my own community group.)

But small groups do present one very big risk. This risk is oftentimes the very reason that churches don’t do small groups. In fact, I’ll be bold enough to say that 99 times out of 100 this is the ONE reason churches don’t do small groups for kids and students.

When it’s bad it’s really bad. When it’s bad it keeps people away, and that’s not the goal!  The weirdest part of all is that it can be bad even when there is a fantastic group happening right next door.  

Look at the numbers on this. With no small groups, I have to concentrate in ONE area. I have to make this one 60 or 90 minute event as influential as possible, and many out there do a great job at this. Sure, there are many facets to this one area, but down to it’s core it is ONE event in ONE moment with ONE big impact.

Now there are a  million  different ways to get kids and students into smaller groups (I’m speaking in very general terms), but when you commit to small groups you are taking that one impact opportunity and you are turning it into 10 or 20 or 30 different areas where things could go right or wrong.

In a way our greatest strength becomes our greatest weakness. Our 3rd grade boys group is totally hitting it out of the park, and the leader is way more than awesome…but our 8th grade girls group is struggling to get any momentum, with spotty attendance and no teenagers willing to invite anyone to this terrible experience. It’s a risk, and I can tell you from experience that the danger is always there. There will always be some frustrations and struggles, but the wins are more than worth it.

What do you think keeps churches and leaders from  committing  to a true small group experience for their kids and students?