Orange 2014

Orange 2012

Beginning in 2008 and continuing into 2014…I’ll be at THE Orange Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. This year takes on an entirely new flavor, but I feel like maybe I say that every year.

Orange, is special to me. It’s “just a conference”, if Thanksgiving is “just a Thursday.” It’s the place I see a family of people that love families all across the world. It’s the beginning of new friendships. It’s a place that I go to spend time with those that love the same things that I love. If you are here in Atlanta, I’d love to see you and spend time over some coffee.

If you aren’t here in Atlanta, but are interested in hearing from the likes of Mark Batterson, Derwin Gray, Sue Miller, Perry Noble, Andy Stanley, Jon Acuff, and Reggie Joiner…then join us live online beginning on Wednesday and throughout the week. Don’t wait until Wednesday to check it out, you’ll need to RSVP for your online spot!

We are Again Circling

changing-directions

Sometimes you think you know,  believe,  and embrace a Biblical principle…but then you bump up against that principle in a way you didn’t control, plan, or imagine.

This family has circled for most of the time this family has been “this family”,  looking for a place to land. We thought we found it, came in hard for the landing, and put the plane in the hangar. We slammed the door on the hangar and locked it up, thinking we were finished with the circling; didn’t need the plane. We had landed. We were home.

“You don’t even know what your life tomorrow will be! You are like a puff of smoke, which appears for a moment and then disappears. What you should say is this: “If the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:14

In our hearts, in spite of the warnings of Scripture, we thought we knew what our tomorrows looked like. We read “You don’t know what your life tomorrow will be” and nodded our heads in affirmation, but in our hearts thought “of course we do.” But what we’ve experienced regarding our “landing”, is that the Lord was not willing. The life here in Athens, GA that we were planning on,  was not what He had in mind for us.

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9

And so, we are again circling. God has allowed some sadness and confusion in the changing of our course and in the dissolving of our well laid plans, but we are confident we are in His hands. We have been uprooted, but the master gardener uproots and prunes with tender care, and He will plant us where He wants us.

We are no longer on staff at the church that brought us to Georgia. Resignation from the church did not come easily, but we know that an easy life is not we are promised, or even want. We are waiting on the Lord to see what He has in mind for us. We are prayerful that He will make his plans for us clear, and hopeful that we will bear well the weight of the waiting: waiting for His plans for us to take shape in a way we can see and take firm hold of. We will see what the Lord has in mind,  and we are confident it is for our good. He goes before us.

“But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the Lord will go before you… ” Isaiah 52:12

While we are waiting in this in between, we have fixed our eyes on Jesus, and found that He is good. He never disappoints.

I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.”  Jeremiah 32:39-41

 

Choose Their Friends

Friends

Did you know that if you’re a parent, you can decide who your children are friends with? This plan doesn’t work entirely if you start trying to do this when they are teenagers; but there is some merit to the idea. When your children are little, you are the one that decides who they spend time with and how much time they spend with everyone. Use the opportunity when they’re young to begin doing the little things, and planning for the pre-teen and teenage years.

Screen their friends. It’s simple really. Encourage quality time with those people you want them to be around, and limit the time with those less positive influences. Just don’t become judgemental and separatist in your behavior.

Awareness. Become aware of who they are spending time around and become involved in their social life when the opportunities are there. Regular conversation with the

SchoolBe involved in the social parts of school life. Friendships at school are totally different than church friendships, and can quickly become a loud voice in your kids life.

Be Smart. Specifically in regards to smart phones. A parent who doesn’t know their kid’s FaceBook password is a parent who doesn’t know the company their kids keep.

Make yourself friendly. Make it a goal of yours to become friends with the friends of your kids. Volunteer to drive kids to events, host get-togethers at your house, and do whatever it takes to responsibly become a part of the lives of the kids around your children.

I Corinthians 15:33 “Bad company corrupts good character.”

Books that Impact the Family Ministry Leader

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When I’m talking with potential leaders, I’m usually investigating how much knowledge they have and how they learn. One great question is “What are you reading right now, and what books have impacted you the most?”

I love the responses to this question, and thought I’d answer it myself here. Here is my list of books that have impacted me the most as a family ministry leader. Please add your own impactful books in the comments, doing so might even get you a few books mailed your way...

Think Orange, Reggie Joiner || Honestly, it’s a bit much, because it’s the manifesto on all things family ministry. Lots of things to disagree with and agree with all in the same book. There is also the Orange Leader Handbook, which is much more digestible to go through with a team of leaders.

Lead Small, Reggie Joiner and Tom Schefunus || This is a fantastic book written for leaders that lead kids/students in small groups. I’m real excited about what could come from this little book, because it is stuffed to the brim with ideas for the small group leader. I’ve always got this book available to give away. I take to to lunch when I’m meeting with small group leaders, and have even highlighted sections in advance for people!

Dreaming of More for the Next Generation, Michelle Anthony || I recommend this book to anyone working with kids and students. It’s a great thesis on the “how” of leading kids/students. I love the thoughts on how to teach the Holy Spirit to kids.

Revolutionary ParentingGeorge Barna || A slightly controversial book on what research says about adult Christ-following kids. It’s great if you want to connect parents to what matters. I’ve given this away to parents for years.

Deep & Wide, Andy Stanley || I really believe that as you talk to churches, you are going to find more and more that have been through this book. At least in the interviews I’ve done in the past month, that has proven true.

Next Generation Leader, Andy Stanley || Intentional Apprenticing is vital to how we do ministry here at Athens Church. This book is a great guide to take a young person through, or anyone that you see potential leadership

StrengthsFinder 2.0, Tom Rath || This little book is the easiest way to discover what makes you the leader you are, and when used on an entire team will give you a glimpse into how to lead those around you, as well as how to follow your own leader well. I’ve got a stack of these in my office at all times to give to leaders I’m talking to.

Sticky Faith, Kara Powell || A look at the attempt of churches and parents to develop deep, profound, sticky faith in their children. I’m not sure it has all the answers, but it’s impactful nonetheless.

Lead Small for Men

Lead Small Guys

Do you know the hardest volunteer to find? It’s a man willing to work with boys in a small group. It’s the boys groups that are the loudest, craziest, and sometimes, just sometimes, the most destructive. I’m a parent of 4th and 6th grade sons, and I know as well as anyone how difficult it can be to get them to have sincere conversation around spiritual things. And yet, this is the very challenge our men small group leaders are faced with every week.

It’s always my goal to challenge us all to continue to fight the fight for relationship with our kids. Here are a few things I believe could help our men in their attempt to wrangle their small group:
  • Make Introductions. Boys respond well to strong introductions, and being by the door to greet parents and share a fist bump with their son is monumental. It shows parents they can trust you, as well as makes a strong statement of who is in charge of your room. This may mean that you and your co-leader take turns at the door, to make this first impression.

Read the rest of my contribution at the Lead Small blog at: http://leadsmall.org/elementary/guys-that-lead-small/