How Innovation and The Orange Conference Help Our Churches

The Orange Conference 2017

It’s Orange Week, which is a time when a bunch of leaders and bloggers write posts related to The Orange Conference and the Orange Strategy. I’ll be at the Orange Conference again this year. If you plan to attend, you’ll want to register right away before the price increases on Feb 17.

One Of My Favorite Things

The thing I love most about Orange, other than the people, is how they are constantly innovating. They’re always looking to improve, add, tweak, change, and create in order to help churches win with families. I don’t know about you, but our team does not have enough time to do all the things Orange does. However, we do benefit from it.

The Orange Conference is just over a decade old,  yet I can point to numerous innovations over the years from Orange that were released at the conference. All of them have been helpful to our church.

Partnering With Parents

Partnering with parents wasn’t a new idea, but the innovation of Orange made it the priority it is today in many churches. They did that by teaching about the importance the influence of parents, creating resources for parents, and creating curriculums that are based on the value of parents leading their children.

Family Experience

This was an innovation of Reggie Joiner while he was at North Point, but Orange helped it spread to churches everywhere. The purpose is an extension of the previous innovation, the desire to help parents learn with their children and lead them in matters of faith.

Lead Small

Lead Small” is a phrase coined by Orange to emphasize the importance of having kids and students in small groups with consistent, weekly leaders and peers. Small Groups have been a strategy in churches for some time now, but Orange helped emphasize their importance for kids and students. Our church has small groups for kids from age 3 all the way up through high school, and Orange has helped us tremendously with that effort.


Phase is one of the biggest and most recent innovations of Orange. It is a collaborative, ongoing, effort assembling classic and innovative research, with practical application for parents and church leaders that can help them understand and lead kids best at every phase of their life.

What’s Coming This Year?

Every year, I’m excited to see what’s released at The Orange Conference. This year will be no different. There are a couple things related to equipping parents and helping us grow as leaders that I can’t wait to hear more about.

Will you be there?


How Orange Helps Our Church Help Parents

Orange Conference 2017

If you don’t know what Orange is, it’s a non-profit company that helps churches win with families. They help by creating strategies, curriculum, resources, leader training, conferences and more. You can find out more on the What Is Orange website. Registration for the 2017 Orange Conference opens this week, and in this post, I’ll share how Orange has helped our church serve families, along with some new things that are in the works.

How Orange Defines A Win With Parents

There are so many things churches can do to help parents win. In order to help churches focus on what’s most important, Orange has identified two primary ways in which churches can help parents win:

  1. Help parents be more present with their family. Churches should look to help parents connect relationally with their kids and lead them well.
  2. Help parents connect in community. Churches can help parents connect to their church, but even more, connect with other parents in the church.

Ever since Orange began as an organization, even before being called Orange, it has helped churches partner with parents. It has helped by providing resources, content, ideas, training, and more. They continue to grow and develop their offering and Phase is a big part of that.

A Yearly Plan To Help Parents Win

Our team is working towards creating a yearly plan to help parents win and Orange is helping us do that. Here are 5 components Orange believes should be included in a yearly plan, along with how they’re helping with each one.

Establish an Annual Orientation

New parents join our churches all the time and existing parents need an opportunity to re-engage each year. Plus, our kids are a year older and possibly in a different Phase. An annual orientation allows churches to equip parents for the year ahead. Phase is an excellent tool for this orientation and Orange is developing a kit to help churches do this well.

Offer Periodic Small Group Studies

This goes to the second way we can help parents win, by putting them in community with other parents. One of the most dangerous things in parenting is when a parent has nobody to talk to and believes the problems they are facing are completely unique to them. What’s even worse is we (parents) feel guilt and shame about it, thereby lessening the chance of talking to someone. Small groups would help break down those barriers, and Orange continues to create materials for churches to use in small groups of parents.

Develop a Weekly Cueing Strategy

Parents need to know what is important this year, but they also need to know what is important this week. Orange provides content and a plan through their curriculum, resources for parents, and Go Weekly. Resources include a parent blog, a podcast, an app, and more. This is one of the components we already utilize, but there is room to improve here as well.

Celebrate Critical Milestones

A yearly plan to partner with parents should include helping them make the most of the critical milestones in their child’s life. Milestones such as baby dedication, going into kindergarten, baptism, graduation, and more. Orange creates resources churches can use to help parents celebrate these milestones well.

Create Opportunities for Shared Experiences

Few things outweigh the importance of parents spending time with their children. In our churches, we want to create opportunities for parents and kids to experience something together. Orange provides ideas and resources to help churches do just that.

Want to Learn More? Come to the Orange Conference!

This only scratches the surface of how Orange helps our church helps parents, and we didn’t even touch on how Orange helps our church serve kids and students. If you want to learn how to do this better, the best way to start is to head to the 2017 Orange Conference. I’ll be there, and I’d love to see you there as well. Registration opens this week, so don’t miss out on the best price!

Register Here

Key Quotes and Action Steps from the 2016 Orange Tour

Orange Tour 2016

Last week, our family ministry staff, along with about 10 volunteers, attended the Orange Tour stop in Lancaster, PA. We attend the Tour every year and it was a great experience as always. Unlike past years, we went north to Lancaster instead of south to D.C. and the traffic was way better.

Here are some key quotes, along with actions steps I would suggest, coming out of the 2016 Orange Tour.

“This week matters: if it’s repeated.” – Reggie Joiner

Action Step: If you currently don’t have weekly volunteers in your ministry, create a plan to get there. It’s hard to repeat what matters if you have different people with kids/students each week. Don’t expect to do it in one day, but draw up a plan to transition from monthly or bi-weekly to weekly.

“Kids matter: more than adults.” – Reggie Joiner

Action Step: Analyze your budget towards kids and students. I’m completely biased, obviously, but if you divided up your church staff’s hours into 3-5 core segments, with children’s and student ministry being a segment, it should get the most hours. More than worship. More than groups. More than operations. More. It should get more budget as well (okay, minus facilities).

“Prioritize young people everywhere.” – Mike Park (Kara Powell at some stops)

Action Step: By the new book Growing Young from Fuller. Take the assessment and apply the learnings to your church. Fuller offers some additional resources along with the book and the assessment that are also helpful.

“Church should never be boring” – Reggie Joiner

Action Step: Evaluate your environments weekly and ask the question, was it fun? Yes, our ultimate goal is to make disciples. However, there won’t be many kids and students to make disciples of if their experience is boring, dull and irrelevant.

“Every parent will do something more.” – Reggie Joiner

Action Step: Think of something this week you can challenge parents to do that is something more. Not 10 things more. Not a 6-month project. One thing. What is it? How will you communicate it to them? How will you help them?

“The shortest distance between your church and the parent is a small group leader” – Reggie Joiner

Action Step: Equip small group leaders with the contact information for the parents of their few and encourage them to reach out. If it’s the first contact, I think the best option is to write a sample email for the leader, have the leader personalize it and send it to every parent. Every partnership begins with someone reaching out to open a dialogue.

Mastermind Groups for Children’s Ministry, Youth Ministry and NextGen/Family Ministry

Mastermind Groups for Church Ministry

One of the most impactful things that helped me grow as a leader has been coaching networks. I’ve been involved in a couple of them, specifically for pastors, and they have been great. I think every ministry leader should have the opportunity to be in a group like that. However, there are a few problems.

However, there are a few problems.

Coaching Network Challenges

There are challenges when it comes to coaching networks for ministry leaders. Here are a few:

  • There aren’t many. These are very common the business world, but not so much in ministry world. Of the coaching networks that do exist, most are targeted to Lead and Executive Pastors. Both coaching networks I participated in were that way and I was the only family ministry staff person.
  • They’re expensive. The last network I was in was $2000 for 9 months. That’s expensive. Cost is a barrier to most ministry leaders.
  • They’re instructional more than collaborative. I don’t think instructional is wrong. The first network I was in had that format and it was great. However, the last network I was in had a collaborative format used in Mastermind Groups. That was a much better experience, especially for people who have been leading for more than a few years.

MegamindMastermind Groups?

If you’ve heard of them, then it probably doesn’t sound weird.

Otherwise, the name might be misleading. I don’t know about you, but when I first heard of Mastermind groups I couldn’t help but picture this guy.

A Mastermind Group is a collection of people who gather together regularly to learn from each other, encourage each other, and help each other improve. The Mastermind format centers around using 3 key questions that everyone gets to answer:

  • What is going well in your ministry?
  • What challenge are you facing that you would like input from the group on?
  • What resource can you share that would be helpful to the group?

Most groups gather once/month on site or via video call and talk through those questions. In addition to the questions, there is a specific discussion around a book, article, or something the group is learning from together.

Interested in Some Pilot Mastermind Groups?

I’m hoping to pilot some Mastermind groups for family ministry leaders. Picture a group for children’s pastors, a group for youth pastors, and a group for family pastors. If you’re interested, click the link below to sign up for more information.

Click here to sign up for more information on Mastermind Groups for Ministry

Mastermind Group Registration has closed for 2016. If you’re interested in hearing about potential groups in 2017, please fill out the form below.



Win a Lifetime Membership to Parent Ministry

Ministry to Parents

In the NextGen/Family Ministry survey I did earlier this year, Partnering with Parents was the #1 topic leaders were interested in hearing about. I can’t say I was too surprised because it’s absolutely critical to a strong family ministry and it’s a topic I’m very interested in as well.

Podcast Interview

I’m excited to share the podcast interview I had with Jeremy of Parent Ministry. You can find it here. We talked all about ways in which we can do a better job partnering with parents. Jeremy knocks it out of the park as he shares the importance of ministering to parents and practical ways we can do it in our churches.

If you’re not familiar with Parent Ministry, they create content, resources, event kits, and everything you need to launch and organize your ministry to parents. After our interview, I thought it would be fun to see if they would be up for giving something away along with the podcast hitting this week.

They came up big. 

They’re giving away a lifetime membership to Parent Ministry (kids+youth bundle) to one lucky person. I’m not sure how to quantify a lifetime, but we’re talking about well over $10K in value.

Enter to win a lifetime membership to Parent Ministry

To enter to win, fill out the form below. Once you confirm your email address, you’ll receive an email with the one additional step you can take to enter to win. Not to mention, the step itself will give you some great free content, including:

  • 5 Strategies to take your parent ministry to the next level
  • 52 Family Dinner Discussions
  • Lunch Box Notes for parents to write to their kids
  • 80 Scriptures for encouraging parents

Be sure to listen to the podcast episode and share your thoughts in the comments below or in a rating on iTunes.

Winner = Kristin Shughart of Northridge Church

Kristin Shughart of Northridge Church won the lifetime membership to Parent Ministry. Congrats Kristin!