My Takeaways From the 2016 Orange Conference

Orange Conference 2016 Monday is Coming

Last week I had my annual trip to the Orange Conference. It’s a week I look forward to every year. I posted notes from the first and second main sessions, but here are some general takeaways I had from the conference. It’s a random list in random order.

A Refocus on Mondays

The theme of this year’s conference was Monday is Coming, with the idea being that what we do throughout the week is potentially more important than what we do on Sundays. I came back with a renewed focus on investing in people outside of Sundays along with some ideas for how to do that.

The NextGen Role and Structure Are Growing

My position at our church involves overseeing staff who lead birth through high school, as well as the transition out of high school. This position, which has various titles in different churches (NextGen, Family Pastor, Family Ministries Director, etc.), is becoming more popular. More than that, the structure of having one team is more popular and I think that’s a good thing.

I’m Excited About NextGen Staffing Solutions

NextGen Staffing Solutions, a partner of Orange, launched last week. It’s a new staffing firm helping churches hire Children’s Pastors, Student Pastors and NextGen/Family Pastors. My friends Jim Wideman and Matt McKee are behind it, and they’ll do a great job connecting churches with leaders. Personally, I also hope churches will allow them to help the church get some things fixed before hiring someone into a position, should there be any issues that pop up.

Complexity is All Around

Every year I get to talk to a number of ministry leaders from all around, and this year I had more conversations than any other year. One thing stands out, and it’s the amount of complexity most leaders are dealing with. Whether it’s the healthy complexity of leading in a multisite environment or the bad complexities that come with lack of clarity in leadership, it’s everywhere. Leaders who are in good, healthy situations where things are clear, are rare.

Story is Powerful

This isn’t new, but it was on display at OC16. Multiple people shared stories from their life on opening night to help connect us to them and the message they were carrying. Reggie shared a powerful teaching and, as usual, told a story that brought some tears and helped us feel the weight and importance of investing in people outside of church.

Leaders Want to Network

Kenny Conley helps organize some networking opportunities for NextGen leaders and people respond really well to them. Leaders also jumped at the opportunity to be coached. I love the posture of wanting to learn and the heart to connect with other leaders and learn from what they’re doing.

If you attended, what were your takeaways?

That’s certainly not all of my takeaways, especially if you could see the list of things I need to process and save in order to come back to over the next month or so. If you attended or watched online, what did you walk away with?

Orange Conference 2016 Main Session 2 Notes

Orange Conference 2016

I’m at the Orange Conference this week, and I’m blogging notes from main sessions. Here are my notes from the second main session.

Andy Stanley

  • The church saved my life, in a preventative way.
  • You are preventing more than you can ever imagine in the lives of kids and students.
  • For Andy, the Church:
    • Informed his conscience – A conscience that is well-shaped in a child is an anchor for the rest of their life.
    • Instilled a sense of purpose
    • Provided the context for lifelong friendships
    • Served as a window into God’s activity all over the world
    • Taught me to be Jesus
  • Following Jesus will make your life better and make you better at life.
  • People followed Jesus before they believed.
  • The Church provides the strongest argument for the dignity of individuals and human rights.
  • “Classical philosophers considered mercy and pity to be character defects, contrary to justice. Not until Jesus did that attitude change.” – Philip Yancy
  • The Church inspires us to embrace the one mandate that could change everything – Love your neighbor as yourself.

Outside of your family, there’s nothing greater you’ll invest your life in than the local church.

Orange Conference 2016 Main Session 1 Notes

Orange Conference 2016 Monday is Coming

I’m at the Orange Conference this week, and I’m blogging notes from main sessions. Here are my notes from the first main session.

Monday is Coming

The theme of this year’s Orange Conference is Monday is Coming. The question we’re challenged with is:

Will what happens on Sunday matter in someone’s life on Monday?

Reggie Joiner

Sundays never has to be:

  • boring
  • superficial
  • irrelevant
  • exclusive
  • disconnected

You have to imagine someone’s Monday before you can re-imagine Sunday.

  • When you have a Monday mindset, you think about what’s coming the rest of the week.
  • When you only have a Sunday mindset, you measure success by how many show up.
  • When you have a Monday mindset, you focus on how many will come back.
  • Truth matters, when love matters.
  • Sometimes what you say doesn’t matter even if it’s true.
  • You can’t speak the truth in love if you don’t know the people you’re speaking to.
  • It’s not your job to fix anyone. It’s your job to love them.
  • It’s hard to speak the truth in love if you don’t know about someone’s Monday.
  • Empathy doesn’t change the truth; it enhances the truth.
  • Empathy is the ability to press pause on your own thoughts and feelings long enough to understand someone else’s thoughts and feelings.
  • We need to re-imagine how to knock on someone’s door the way Jesus talked about knocking on the door of our hearts.
  • There will be kids and families who will never step into your church until you step into their world.

I’ll See You at the Orange Conference, On-site or Online

Orange Conference 2016

I’m headed to the Orange Conference this week in Atlanta, GA. It’s one of my favorite weeks each year where I get to learn from top leaders, connect with friends, gather tons of great ideas, network with some new leaders and be stretched all around. As I’ve always done, I’ll blog most of the conference notes I take. You can also follow me on Twitter (@nickblevins) for an insane number of updates (and you thought I was annoying before).

If you’ll be at the conference, let’s connect. Comment below or message me on Twitter and we’ll find a time to meet. If you won’t be at the conference, here is how you can follow along online.

RSVP for the Live Stream

Click here to RSVP for the Orange Conference Live Stream. The opening session on Wednesday night will be streamed, along with tons of other great content and interviews. Check the Orange Leaders blog for the full live stream schedule when it’s posted.

Catch Posts from the Orange Bloggers

Click here to see the full list of people who will be blogging the conference. Some will blog during the conference like I do while others will post updates after the conference is over. Either way, you’ll want to follow along to catch all the great content. You can do that just by clicking on the links in that post or by using an app like Feedly to subscribe to all of our blogs and get it in one place.

Follow On Social Media

The hashtags to follow on social media are #OC16 and #OC16Live if you’re watching from home. You can follow that hashtag on a number of social media platforms, though Twitter is probably the best. You don’t even need an account. A simple search like this one on Twitter will keep you up to date.

The Orange Leaders blog has a great post with more details about How to Get the Most Out of #OC16 With Social Media.

Win BIG As You Follow Along From Home

Orange is giving away lots of free stuff to people on-site as well as those watching from home. Check out this blog for details. Also, don’t miss the chance to ask questions via Twitter that might get answered on the Live Stream. Read that post for instructions on how to do that.

See you on-site or online!

Leave a comment below if you have any questions or just want to let me know you’ll be there. See you at #OC16!

What Our Weekly Family Ministry Meeting Looks Like


In talking about a unified family ministry and the role of a family pastor, the question that often comes up is – What does that look like? The idea of a combined children/student ministry team under one leadership umbrella is still fairly new, so naturally people want to know how it works practically. When I’m around other family pastors, I too want to know what it looks like for them. One thing I believe helps keep a family ministry team unified is having a regular family ministry meeting.

What Our Meeting Looks Like

A church’s size and structure will determine who is in the meeting and how frequently the meeting happens. But, I believe it’s necessary to have some regular rhythm for meeting as a family ministry team. In our church, we do this weekly. I wrote previously about how we use the Top 4 to clarify the purpose of each volunteer role. In that same way, I identified the four primary purposes of our weekly family ministry meeting. Here they are.


One of the reasons we meet regularly as a family ministry team is to celebrate together. We start off each meeting by sharing wins. Where did we “win” in ministry recently? What story needs to be shared? What volunteer stepped up in a big way? What kid or student took a step of faith? Who on the team can we brag on because we saw something great they did? Sharing wins helps keep the vision fresh, but sharing them all together also helps us feel invested in each other’s ministry.


We are held accountable for some specific things at our family ministry meeting. This part of the meeting is very brief, but by doing this as a team there’s some shared accountability as Patrick Lencioni writes about in the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team. We are held accountable for feedback reports, follow up, and anything we assign at the meeting.


We use this meeting as an opportunity to learn together as well. Sometimes we read books together and discuss them. Other times we listen to podcasts on our own and then talk about them at the meeting. As I write this I have a blog post saved for our team to read and discuss together at our next meeting. The secret to leading a growing family ministry is habitual learning and our meeting helps make it a priority.


The last thing we do in our meeting is collaborate. There will be various projects or events we work on together, and our meeting is a time to touch base. Bigger projects and events get their own meetings, but even then the conversation starts in our family ministry meeting. For instance, the last thing we collaborated on was re-defining our plan for helping parents through each phase with the classes, seminars and groups we offer (see Just a Phase).

What does your meeting look like?

Regardless of what meetings you lead, I think it can be helpful to clarify the main reasons for the meeting to make sure you stay focused. The last thing anyone wants is unnecessary meetings.