Orange Conference 2013

Orange 2012

For this year’s Orange Conference I will be experiencing it from a very unique angle. For the past 5 years, I’ve had to get on an airplane, rent a car, drive through Atlanta traffic, and bum a hotel couch off a friend just to be there. This year my house and family are 38 miles away from the Gwinnett Center. I’m going to be there, and I’m excited for it to be in my own backyard.

I hope you’d consider the ONE conference for children’s workers, senior pastors, student leaders, small group leaders, volunteers, preschool directors, and family ministry directors. This year Orange has added a special NextGen/Family Ministry track for those leading the whole team of family ministry, and when you see the list of speakers for that track…Woah!

In honor of a special Orange Week with a ton of other bloggers, Orange would like to giveaway a free Year Subscription to YouLead.

Check out the resources you can find now in the new YouLead:

ISSUES A collection of media tools focused on a core topic.
Each  Issue  provides resources for you and your team, including book previews, podcasts, videos and case studies along with prewritten emails to send to your volunteers—all centered around a topic, like: creating a family experience, developing a Small Group culture and focusing your message.

SESSIONS Selected messages from ministry experts
Sessions  are featured podcasts from Orange Events that will help answer specific questions you have in ministry. For example: How do I create an environment on a budget? How do I make a big impact on families with special needs? How do I recruit and retain great volunteers?

CULTURE Executive Summaries and Book Previews
We are learning from the best!  Culture  provides you with case studies and best practices from organizations such as Pixar, IKEA and Zappos that have relevant application to your family ministries. Also, we provide Book Previews of titles like  The Way We re Working Isn t Working, Choosing to Cheat,and  Switch  to help you sharpen your leadership skills and be on the cutting edge.

SOCIAL Messages and images that inspire volunteers
Social  gives you tools to connect weekly with your volunteers. We have created messages and images that will help your volunteers learn, live, lead and laugh. Plus, these pieces will help you stay connected and cast vision!

PREZ Strategic presentations to train teams
Prez  is designed to help you become more effective in your presentations to leaders and volunteers. It provides you with a graphic package and/or audio or video file to help you enhance your PowerPoint or Prezi presentation—and in some cases, we will even include a complete Prezi presentation—a cloud-based presentation and storytelling tool for exploring and sharing ideas on a virtual canvas.

PLUS Random stuff leaders want
Plus  provides you with a variety of random resources that you will love. It includes podcasts that explain the Orange Strategy, bumper videos to enhance environments and curriculum tools to equip you and your team.

For samples and the complete YouLead Resource Catalog, click  here!

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Thoughts on Transition: Setting New Goals in a New Place


Set goals, meet those goals, celebrate the meeting of those goals, and repeat, and repeat, and repeat. I’ve served and led in enough places to know the formula, but the formula is turned on its head when you’re new. There is another step after listening really well, and that step is to help take those you’re listening to to a new place.  Now here’s the inherent problem with taking the people you lead into new levels of leadership.

How do you take someone to new place, when you’re not yet certain of your own place?

I’m still working on my answer to that question, but I’m going to say that the word “slow” is in that answer somewhere. In my quest to answer that question, here’s my current gameplan for setting new goals in a new place, and helping others find their place while also wrestling to find my own place.  I’m tracking with three areas of tasks, and I’ve included three tasks with each to illustrate the differences between all three areas:

First, I’m tracking with easy, small and attainable things that maybe I’m seeing with fresh eyes as the new guy. There is not much potential for conflict here, as it’s easy as easy can get.

  • Could we fix that door?
  • Is there a misspelling on a popular send home material?
  • Are new volunteers background checked?

Second, I’m tracking things I’d like to talk about 6-8 months from now. These things carry a potential for conflict, but I’m not waiting so long to avoid the conflict. I’m waiting, because over time those things could change as I learn more and more about my own place in the organization.

  • Why do we have that door there? Could the door be moved?
  • The send home package needs a new marketing strategy. What does that look like?
  • Are new volunteers serving in the right place? How do we help them find that place?

Third, I’m tracking things related to myself, and nobody else. These are the things that help make my own job description come alive. These things are helping me determine why this new place would bring me here. It’s my effort to think Big-Picture.

  • What are the most important issues I’ve been brought in to fix? (If any…)
  • What are the areas I need to champion and celebrate better?
  • Who are the leaders I need to invest the most one-on-one time with?

It’s been my hope and prayer that this ever-growing list of “things” that I’m creating will prove fruitful at keeping myself busy, but more importantly; I’m demanding that this list help me with setting new goals for my new team and myself. I consider this my foundation to setting goals in a new place, it is my cornerstone for leading tomorrows tomorrow.

“The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time.” Abraham Lincoln

The Perception of Change

I’m a change advocate.  Change has never really scared me, and I look forward to opportunities to do it the right way.  However, I’ve also learned that the the perception of many towards the change you advocate is oftentimes negative.  Strange, huh?  Yet, that’s the result of change.  There will always be the battle between perception and reality.

What was  perceived  to be the reality before the change, and what is  perceived  to be the resulting reality after the change; are different from the actual reality.  The problem is that sometimes perception can be so far from reality that it leads to a new conflict.  As is often the case when you advocate and lead change, you as the leader will bear the burden of criticism due to the perceptions of others.

Over the past few months at our church, I’ve made a pretty significant change to our mid-week programming and the change has been overwhelming positive.  It’s been a long-time in the planning, yet was done with prayerful intentions and a high-degree of reluctance to do so.  However, it’s been the right thing for our church at this time. Even in that atmosphere, there is still the battle between perception and reality.

The perception is that I never liked what was here before.  The reality is different.

The perception is that I ran off people who loved the existing program.  The  reality  is different.

The perception is that I don’t like programs that require large groups of committed volunteers.  The  reality  is different.

The perception is that now I’ve created a program of lesser value.  The  reality  is different.

I could go on and on and on about perception vs. reality; but I’m still left living with the perceptions of others.  And that’s going to be allright.  You can’t control someone perceptions of you and your leadership.  [WARNING: I’d tell you to keep an eye out, if the perception of everyone around you is something different than you; that could very well be the sign that you’re wrong and they are right! The perceptions I speak of are from people that aren’t on the “inside” of the change that’s being made, I speak of those that are solely making their perceptions on what they see from a distance.]

The truth is that you can only control your own personal actions, and the steps you take to help kids and families connect with God through the ministry of your church.  Learning to live in a place of health in spite of unhealthy perceptions is not always easy, but it’s required if you’re going to advocate for change.  Being a change agent in a place that even demands for change will not be easy, but it takes someone willing to sacrifice themselves to current perceptions in order to create a longer-lasting perception based in reality.  And that reality takes time.

Are you committed to making the change in spite of the initial perceptions?  Let’s hear from your own journey…

Conference Conversations

As I prepare to head out of town for a conference this week, my kids have asked me the question, “Dad, what is a conference?”  I’ve tried to give them an answer that I thought would make it easy for them to understand and my response was,

“A conference is where people that want to learn and grow to be better at their job go to learn and get better at their job.  But really, it’s place that I go to talk to people.”

Then began a conversation about talking to people at conferences; and meeting people I don’t know; and hearing from people I’ve never heard from; and all the other benefits of getting out of town and seeing what’s out there.  If I had to explain why you’ve heard me talking about so many conferences on the blog this year here it is:

I go for the conversations.  I go for the dinners with friends sharing my own struggles.  I go for the one-way conversations I have with the people teaching as I’m listening.  I go for the one-way conversations I have with people listening to me as I’m teaching.  I go to meet people different than me.  I go to meet people similar to me.  I go to every conference for different conversations.

The Orange Conference // I go for the life long friends I’ve met through Orange.  I also go because it’s a rare conference that combines denominations, ministry leaders, youth leaders, volunteers, children’s leaders, and senior pastors into one space that creates fireworks of collaboration.  It’s unique.

The D6 Conference // I go for the new people I get to meet and see.  This next week I’ll be at D6 for the first time.  It looks to be a great environment for learning the best from marriage, parenting, and church leadership leaders.  I’m real excited to also not have to travel far to this one!

The KIDMIN Conference // I’m going to Kidmin because I love kids and those that minister to them!  Kidmin is trying really, really hard to reach those that minister to children in a community settings.  No green rooms, no hideaway meals, and relationship encouraged at every turn.  Not to mention Gina McClain laying down some awesome sauce in the main sessions!

Illuminate Conference // I love Illuminate because it’s all about volunteers.  Illuminate encourages me to learn from others, yet allows me the place to teach into those that are going where I’ve been.  I love the opportunity that Illuminate presents to church leaders in Birmingham, AL; Austin, TX; and Nashville, TN to bring their key volunteers together for a ministry investment!

Children’s Pastor Conference // I’ll be at both CPC conferences this year for a new reason.  I’m believing for a change in the way INCM meets and connects Kidmin leaders throughout the world.  CPC is a place that is changing, and I’m excited for the direction my friend Michael Chanley is taking INCM and CPC.

I’m not nieve and I understand that on some level all these conferences compete for the same attenders.  However, I am not an employee of any one conference.  I am just a conversationalist looking for more conversation.   Sure I have my favorites, and I could rank them in some arbitrary order.  But why? Conversations are what I’m looking for.  Not arguments.

Simple as that, kids. :-)

Illuminate Conference News

This just in…stop…from Mr. Kenny Conley and team…stop…big news out of Nashville…stop…Illuminate…coming to a town near you…stop…read below for all the cats pajamas…stop…you’re welcome…stop…

With two Illuminate Conferences under my belt, one thing is sure… Illuminate is like no other conference. At both Austin (2010) and Birmingham (2011) I heard the same thing over and over.





That’s what kidmin volunteers from Texas, Alabama and Georgia all had to say about their Illuminate experience. So, the only logical thing to do is more events, right? That’s what I thought too.

On Saturday, February 18th, 2012… Illuminate comes to the great city of Nashville, TN! Details are still coming together (like speakers and breakouts) but we do have a handful of great communicators already lined up.

  • Jim Wideman (General Sessions and Leader Q & A)
  • Jonathan Cliff
  • Amy Fenton Lee
  • I’ll be there too… plus a few others

So, if you live within a 2-4 hour radius of Nashville, TN, make plans to attend the only event bringing some of the most influential voices in kidmin to the local arena to equip volunteers. It’s one of the best investments you could make in your volunteer team. At the early bird price, you can afford to bring them all!

For more information about Illuminate, check out  For more information about the Nashville event, visit