With a changing culture, its not our programs that need to change, but our foundational assumptions

With a changing culture, its not our programs that need to change, but our foundational assumptions

One of my favorite hobbies is talking with other youth workers around the country about our unique and amazing calling.  Over the last few years, I have noticed these conversations begin to shift.  What used to be times sharing our best practices and our best ideas on programs, has become more of laments.  What used to work and kill it, are having little impact.

Our knee jerk reaction is to scrap our programs and figure out the newest, latest and greatest.  But maybe it isn't our programs that are in need of change, but our foundational assumptions about students, their world view, and where God is actually meeting them in their lives.

It is not the programs that need to change:

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off to get my orange on in atlanta!

what is orange

Later this week I have an amazing opportunity! I am flying to Atlanta, Georgia to not only attend, but also participate (in a very small way) in the Orange Ministry Conference. In case you have never heard of Orange, or are not yet going Orange, I highly recommend spending some time around their website. Here is the basic gist: "Orange is a strategy for combining critical influences in life to fuel faith in the next generation. Orange is a path, a strategy that combines the strength of two - yellow and red - to create the brilliance of another, Orange. By combining the critical influences of the light of the church and the love of the family, the Orange strategy synchronizes efforts and shows a generation who God is, more effectively than either could alone."

A Curriculum That Matches My Heart and Values:

That is packed paragraph. But this little paragraph has given words and affirmation to something that God has been doing in my heart for a long, long time. My heart is fully wrapped up in walking with students so that they will become adult followers of Christ. And the longer I have been doing this, the more I see how little my piece of the pie really is in accomplishing this goal. It is me, it is the church, it is the family.

For me, the Orange philosophy and strategy is relatively new, in fact I came across it totally by accident. My children's ministry director and I were looking at some curriculum choices for the summer. And as she was searching, she came across the Orange website. As she looked at all the information and the videos, and the resources, she became convinced that this would be fun for the summer. But as we talked and prayed about it, it became clear that Orange is not going to be just for the summer, but is going to be the direction we need to be implementing in for our children's ministry, and in our student ministry.

Right now we are in the end of the planning stage for launching Orange in our ministry context. We have done all the reading, we have bought the curriculum, we have educated our team, and now we are implementing. We gave ourselves the summer to figure it out and work out the kinks. But because it is so helpful and the Orange people are so supportive, it is all coming together faster and smoother than expected.

So, this upcoming week I am getting a last minute crash course in Orange before we jump in with both feet! While I am in Atlanta, I will also be learning from the best in the children and student ministry. Doug Fields, Andy Stanley, Ron Hall, Reggie Joiner, Sue Miller, Kara Powell, David Kinnaman, Chap Clark, Mark Matlock, and a ton more. But here is the crazy part:

I Also Get to be a Very Small Part of the Story:

Because of you, I get to go not just as a spectator, but a participant. I have been chosen, along with a couple dozen other people to be a "guest blogger." You might be asking yourself, "What is a guest blogger?" That is a great question. Because, before I was asked to do this, I never really considered myself a blogger at all. But apparently I have crossed over and I am now a blogger. And now I get be a guest one at that.

As a guest blogger I get full access to the entire conference. I will have an opportunity to rub shoulders with some of these speakers and ministry leaders. I am encouraged to meet as many people as I can, interview as many people as I can, and share my experiences with you. Because of this great opportunity, I am going to spend this entire week on this blog dedicated to Orange. Now, I am new to the Orange movement so I will be engaging this entire conference as a rookie. I have a ton of questions and a ton of excitement as I spend time with people who share a heart for bringing Christ to the next generation.

I look forward to sharing with you my wrestling with this strategy as we try and implement it in our context that is unique and challenging. I look forward to sharing and reflecting on the main stage speakers and break out sessions. And mostly I look forward to connecting with new and old friends as we all strive to be faithful to this unique call into student ministry.

If you have any questions about anything Orange or are looking for a little inside scoop, let me know and I'll get on it. Well, that is about it. It is about time to pack my bags and head off to Atlanta to be a "guest blogger." :) For one week I am going to lean into the blogospher and live into what ever that means. Thank you for your love and support in this writing thing. I recognize I would never have this experience without this unique and strange blogging relationship. Come next Monday, I will settle back into the average youth worker God has called me to be, and back to the unique and amazing students in my specific context. But for now, bring on the freebies :)

One More Thing:

I almost forgot. If you are at all interested in this Orange thing, check out the Orange Leaders website. They will be pod-casting the entire thing, so grab a coffee and enjoy. You can also check out some of my fellow guest bloggers posts and give them some love too. PEACE!

Is it even ok to be average?

why is it that average is a bad word? i know we all want to be exceptional, the best. since elementary school we have been competing to be the best. the best at anything, sports, music, academics, art. and even though our parents tell us we are the smartest, most beautiful people in the room, we live with this sinking feeling inside that it just isn’t true.  if we are honest, we know who the smartest and most beautiful people in the room are, and it isn’t us. we are average. average: av·er·age, adj. typical; common; ordinary.

but why does this have to be a bad thing? i actually hope it isn’t, because it is the truth. i am average, typical, common, ordinary in just about every way. what kind of freedom could be experienced if the anxiety of striving to be the best and continually coming up short was replaced with the peace of truly living out who we were made to be.

jesus is the head! he is the one who is the best. we are common and ordinary parts of the body. and why should we even be ranking the parts of the body anyway, i am pretty sure that is exactly what we are not supposed to do. any sort of greatness we should be striving for is pointed to him, and the pleasure of being a small part of what he is doing in the world.

average youth workers are amazing! the more and more youth workers i meet and spend time with the more i realize that the average youth worker is amazing. the average youth worker is “all in.” they love their students and their entire lives are wrapped up with the emotional and spiritual weight of walking through adolescents with them. the average youth worker does hit the speaking circuit or spend their days playing call of duty. the average youth worker tirelessly loves kids, runs youth groups, meets with parents, and strives to do better so more and more students will come to love jesus.

settle in! most likely you are an average, common, and typical youth worker. but because we are connected to christ and he loves to use our common and often feeble efforts, let us relax. today we can enjoy the god who loves us and who calls us and uses us, warts and all. we can strive to be excellent tomorrow :)