Orange Tour Recap

Last Friday our Children & Student team attended the Orange Tour with some of our volunteers. The Orange Tour is a one day conference of sorts for church leaders and volunteers. It’s a taste of what you get at the Orange Conference, and the tour stops typically contain a good bit of content from the previous Orange Conference.

Here are some highlights:

  • Ask what do you want someone to become?
  • Love is the one thing that matters most.
  • Theology without love is religion.
  • Do you want to make a statement or start a conversation?
  • Do you fight to win an argument or do you fight to win the heart?
  • The way you love kids when they’re kids can dramatically affect their future.
  • You can’t be forgiven by people who dont know you.
  • Ask where do you want someone to be?
  • What is the optimal environment where people can grow in their relationship with god?
  • A small group culture changes everything
  • It will always be messy
  • It will take longer than you think
  • You will never be done


20 Faith Principles I’ve Learned from @AndyStanley

Andy Stanley

Andy Stanley is a pastor and author and is someone who has been hugely influential to my growth as a follower of Jesus. He has also helped me grow as a leader. The primary way in which he has helped me grow is through his teaching. His teachings are a big reason why I serve on staff at a church today, and hope to serve the Church the rest of my life.

I’ve listened to his teaching and read his books for over a decade and one of the things he is great at is packing insightful truth from the Bible into memorable statements. Below is a list of just some of the statements I’ve held onto from his teachings, and have tried to apply to my life, specifically in the area of faith. On Wednesday I’ll post 20 related to leadership.

Andy Stanley

  1. To understand why, submit and apply. (When you’re not sure about why God wants you to do something.)
  2. Your friends will determine the direction and quality of your life.
  3. Direction, not intention, determines your destination.
  4. Good people don’t go to heaven, forgiven people do. (From his dad I believe.)
  5. What would you do if you were absolutely confident that God was with you? (From Joseph’s story.)
  6. What’s the wise choice in this situation?
  7. When facing temptation, there’s always more at stake than we realize.
  8. Give. Save. Spend. (Simple principle for finances.)
  9. Rules without relationship leads to rebellion.
  10. Maximum freedom is always found under the authority of God.
  11. The more conscious I am of the work God has yet to do in me, the less critical I am about what he has yet to do in you.
  12. People who were not like Jesus, liked Jesus.
  13. If we could see as God sees we would do as God says.
  14. Purity paves the way to intimacy.
  15. Submission is an invitation to lead.
  16. Everybody lives forever somewhere.
  17. Acceptance fuels influence.
  18. Never trade the immediate for the important.
  19. There’s no win in comparison.
  20. Character is not made in crisis; it is only exhibited.

You can listen to Andy’s teaching on North Point’s Message Page and by Subscribing to their podcasts, including his Leadership Podcast, which is excellent.

Breakout Churches

Our staff recently read Breakout Churches by Thom Rainer.  The book was very similar to what Good to Great was for the business world.  That was done on purpose.  Thom and his research team set out to find some churches that broke out of mediocrity and had great success under certain conditions:

  • They had to have a period of decline
  • They had to break out with the same pastor leading the church the entire time
  • They had to have at least 26 conversions/year after breakout
  • They had to have no higher than a 20:1 conversion ratio (20 christians for every 1 conversion per year)

Here are some points that hit me:

  • It's a sin to be good if God has called us to be great (my favorite!)
  • When pastors grew in their leadership, the growth of the church was directly affected in a positive way
  • The breakout churches consistently had a vision that was outwardly focused
  • Breakout churches faced the brutal facts about their ineffectiveness and changed.  Churches that didn't break out were either in denial of those problems, or didn't have the courage to do something about it.
  • Almost all of the breakout churches were influenced by conferences, books, consultations or other similar outside influences.
  • Breakout churches had a culture of serious fun

As I read through the book I thought of the countless churches that are declining.  That's probably 95% of the churches in America.  At the Drive Conference Andy Stanley talked about the fact that their are tons of churches that have resources & people, but aren't effective, that are declining and aren't making an impact on their communities.  He said that somebody will figure out how to get those churches to take their resources and marry them with new ideas to actually make an impact. 

I've mentioned a couple times that my BIG prayer is for God to help Baltimore become known for strong, healthy churches, for His glory.  I believe a huge part of making that happen is church planting.  But, I also believe it will take a lot of churches breaking out.  Hopefully somebody can figure out how to do what Andy talked about, here in Baltimore. 

The Sin of Apathy

In reading through the book of James I came across verse 4:17:

"Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." – James 4:17

How often do I sin by not doing good when I know there is an opportunity?  I think about the times whe I pass a homeless person in need.  When I don't go after an opportunity because it appears to be too daunting and I tell myself that's my desire, and not God's.  When I neglect people in order to focus on tasks.  When I decide not to talk to that person who is far from God because it would just be too awkward. 

You know the quote:

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. – Edmund Burke

Heart Broken & Burdened

At the Drive Conference Andy Stanley said that a burden reflects a broken heart.  He emphasized that our hearts should break for the things that aren't right in this world and that when they do, we will be burdened by that.  He says that burden fuels vision and it made me think about what my heart breaks for. 

In general, it's hard for me to be heart broken.  Maybe it's being raised like most guys, thinking that too much feeling isn't manly or something like that.  But, I do know of the things that break my heart the most and here they are:

  • Ineffective churches
  • As much as 80% of kids that grow up in church leave after they turn 18

I don't think that 80% stat is still as high (or maybe that's just wishful thinking) but anything above 50% is still heart-breaking.  There's one thing I want to put on that list, but to be completely transparent I don't think it breaks my heart enough right now.  It's people who don't have a relationship with Jesus Christ.  God's heart breaks for them and mine should too.  I'm wrestling with why I don't feel completely heart broken and burdened for them. 

The best I can come up with so far is that I don't know enough people personally.  I'm exposed to ineffective churches all the time and working for an effective one makes my heart break even more because I see what could be, and what should be.  I work in children's ministry and growing up in church I personally saw 80% of the friends from student ministry walk away after they graduated high school so that second one is close to home as well.  I'm going to try to fix what I do know, while praying that God will give me His heart and burden for those who are far from him. 

I actually wrote all of the above stuff on Wednesday night, saving it to post on Saturday (a Typepad feature I love) and then at the Whiteboard Sessions Vince Antonucci totally challenged me on this same exact topic.  I'm guessing I should get to work on that.