These are my notes from the Orange Conference 2011 Breakouts that I attended. Click here to see my notes from the main sessions.

Volunteer Assimilation – Nina Schmidgall

Nina Schmidgall led my first breakout called Volunteer Assimilation. Nina is from National Community Church (NCC) – One church in 7 locations. She provided a link to their children’s ministry blog:

NCC Demographics

  • 78% are in their 20’s or 30’s
  • 63% are single
  • 40% turnover each year
  • 27% unchurched/dechurched

Assimilation – Incorporation of new concepts into existing schemes.

Best Practices for Reaching New Volunteers

  • Maximize gifts, don’t fill holes
  • Vision cast
  • Encourage “Heart Service” – people serve most passionately when they serve how God has gifted them.
  • “Date” a new volunteer – Jonathan and Thomas McKee –
    • Shadow system – a system to allow volunteers to explore the ministry while we observe how well they fit.
    • One time ask – give people opportunities to be involved without a long commitment
    • Entry and exit points – Easy ways to begin serving and stop serving. NCC uses a semester system, allowing them to step out at the end of the semester.
  • Carry a pen
  • Create a vacuum for service – create opportunities for volunteers

Best Practices for Assimilating New Volunteers

  • Orientation and manual
    • Vision
    • Roles and responsibilities
    • Commitment – never say ONLY! – Never minimize the commitment. Saying it’s only twice a month devalues the role and its importance.
    • Schedule
    • Safety
    • Security
    • Policies – stepping down, substitutes, preparation, discipline
  • Curriculum
  • Protect new volunteers – they need extra support and encouragement
  • Coach or mentor teacher

Best Practices for Keeping New Volunteers

  • Encouragement
  • Appreciation – Food, small gifts, notes.
  • Privileges and perks
  • Create community
  • Create culture
  • Provide new leadership opportunities
  • Ongoing training
  • Feedback
  • Huddle
  • Have fun!

What are you doing to appreciate the families of the volunteers who serve with you?

Not JUST a Volunteer – Jeanne Stevens

Jeanne Stevens is one of the lead pastors of Soul City Church, after serving at North Point Community Church and Willow Creek Community Church.

  • Jeanne shared about their story planting Soul City Church and how volunteers have made it all happen.
  • God wants to usher volunteers into building his kingdom
  • When volunteers are healthy and empowered it’s an unstoppable force
  • It’s amazing when a volunteer finds their sweet spot in ministry.

From Here to There – what helps people become committed volunteers

  • Moving from attending to serving
    • It’s where faith starts to stick. Find ways to help people serve even if they aren’t Christians yet.
    • Provide an opportunity for people to find out how to take next steps.
    • Provide first serve opportunities so people can test drive that role/ministry.
  • Moving from serving to owning
    • It’s like moving people from being renters to owners.
  • Moving from “they” to “us”
    • Helping volunteers talk about the church with terms like we and us and not you and they.
    • Volunteers feel like the church staff are “they” sometimes.
  • Moving from serving to leading
    • Are your leaders people magnets? Not extroverts, but are people drawn to them.
    • Do you discern potential? Use it to draw potential out in others.
    • Do you see consistent performance in a prospective leader?
    • Can they handle a non-glamorous position?
  • Releasing healthy power
    • I do, you watch.
    • I do, you help.
    • We do together.
    • You do, I help.
    • You do, I watch.
    • Both of you repeat that process with someone new
  • Don’t put people in leadership too quickly, especially without empowering them.
  • Volunteers won’t be responsible without being given responsibilities.
  • Let go of some control and release it to others.
  • “Never sacrifice the many for the one” – Andy Stanley. What he means is that we can’t allow one volunteer who is harming the team to continue having that influence. Sacrifice the one for the many.
  • As a leader, where are you serving?

Who do we need to invite to serve?

Who is serving, that we need to invite to lead?

Who do we need to release from a position?

Am I giving enough responsibility and authority away? Where do I need to give more?

Innovative Ideas to Partner with Parents – Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is the pastor of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, Canada. Carey’s a great guy and I would encourage you to get to know his story. In short, he pastured 3 churches at the same time (small churches) that he combined into one, sold all the property and became portable. From there the church broke off from the denomination to start Connexus.

  • Parents have the greatest influence on a child’s life.
  • Orange is about leveraging that influence and not simply depending on the church to raise children in faith.

Innovating with Parents

  • The script isn’t written yet….you’re writing it.
  • Most parents don’t have a positive role model…they’re it.

Innovating Initiatives

  • Don’t just think events, think experiences.
  • Don’t just have them come to you, go to them.
  • Don’t just think commitment, think community.
  • Don’t just facilitate information…facilitate dialogue.

Carey interviewed a panel of family ministry leaders about ways they’ve partnered with parents.

  • Jeff Brodie
    • He talked about partnering with parents by sending home information was not very effective because they weren’t reading it.
    • They talk to parents about strategy.
    • Families don’t look at their kids in different age groups (preschool, elementary, middle school, high school).
    • Parents want to spend more time with their kids but didn’t know how.
    • The Great Family Experiment is something they started to provide an experience for families to reinforce the five family values.
  • Kendra Fleming
    • Their Baby Dedication was a big event but not a helpful journey for parents. They figured out the few things they would want to tell a parent at that stage of life. They created a new Baby Dedication event called BabyD:
    • Parents have to listen to 3 messages and complete homework together or on their own if they are single parents.
    • All of the pre-work is required to take part in the event.
    • For elementary, they changed up KidStuf to KidStuf Live, KidStuf Online along with a KidStuf Takeout. KidStuf Live happens once a month and is a family experience event. KidStuf Online has more ideas along with a recap. KidStuf Takeout is an experience for families to do on their own at home that syncs up with KidStuf Live.
  • Kenny & Elle Campbell
    • Parent & Small Group Leader Breakfast – an event designed to get parents in the same room as the small group leaders of their children, where they can connect, have some fun, and brainstorm ways to partner together for the sake of their children.
    • This is an idea they implemented for middle school but it would be great at any level.
    • Small group leaders handled all the promotion of the event. They invited parents personally.
    • They made placemats for the tables that helped the small group leaders have conversations with the parents.
    • They created small group leader profile cards for the parents to have so they can get to know their child’s small group leader.
    • Possibly do it as a dinner or dessert night.

There are a lot of great ideas here to implement in our ministries.

Building a Local Network of Leaders – Brian Vander Ark

I was looking forward to this breakout as I’m part of a children’s ministry network in Maryland and I’m always looking for ways to better serve the leaders and churches that are a part of that network.

Brian Vander Ark is the Family Ministry Director at Ada Bible Church.

  • He talked about his story with beginning to network with other leaders in his area.
  • They used to meet in fall, winter & spring and would focus on volunteers, ministry strategy and personal development respectively.
  • His network started to dwindle because he, and others, weren’t giving time to it.
  • He asked himself What If questions:
    • What if the churches in your community and region were working together instead of alone?
    • What if gathering these churches made not only your ministry better, but also improved the church down the street?
    • What if you were not alone but had a local network of Orange thinkers in your corner supporting your efforts, cheering you on, sharing your load?
    • What if the Kingdom was bigger than just you and your church and everyone did not need to go to your church to grow spiritually because healthy churches existed around you?
    • What if you could add Christian community leaders as valid participants in your local network?
  • A local network is a group of leaders that can help you explore new ideas, understand local trends, and evaluate your ministry in face to face conversation to influence and change the greater community.
  • Basics to making a local network work well
    • When egos are left in the parking lot.
    • Gatherings go beyond information sharing to a balance and giving and receiving wisdom.
    • Gathering is centered around a shared philosophy of ministry.
  • Basics to starting a network
    • Take the initiative
    • Begin with relationship-building
    • Identify common needs
    • Create goals and develop a strategy
    • Create a yearly rhythm
    • Evaluate the purpose of the network often

Do you have a local network? If not, start one!