Below, you'll find my notes from Orange Conference 2012. Orange is a conference for family ministry teams and senior leadership in churches. About 5000 people attended. You can see my notes from the breakouts I attended here.

Orange Conference 2012: Session 1

Session 1 opened with some great song covers like Orange does every year, where the lyrics of popular songs are changed to be a tribute to volunteers and staff. This time it was small sections of a bunch of different songs and it was quite hilarious.

Reggie Joiner

Here are some highlights from Reggie's talk:

  • There's no way for you to do what you do without getting messy.
  • Jesus didn't live to set a good example. He lived sinless so he could die for us.
  • Jesus didn't die to make you happy. Jesus died so you could be forgiven.
  • There's no way to make disciples without getting messy.
  • We want to get children and students ready for a messy world.
  • Some of us need to stop acting like we signed up for something and realize we were called to something.
  • There's no way to make disciples without them getting messy.
  • The best way to equip the next generation in our church is to allow them to get messy in the gospel with us.
  • Wouldn't it be an amazing thing if people around the world really believed that Christians love them?
  • As Christians we don't know how to love each other, so why would non-Christians think we love them?
  • Engage children and students in a gospel that puts us all in the same family, the Church.
  • Engage them in a gospel that is paradoxical and mysterious.
  • Trust a God who is bigger than your theology.
  • Engage in a gospel that compels you to connect to a bigger story.
  • The cross was messy with the blood of Jesus Christ.

Orange Conference 2012: Session 2

Joel Manby

  • Joel is president of Herschend Family Entertainment. He was recently featured on the show Undercover Boss. He serves as the chairman of the board for reThink/Orange.
  • They played a clip from the show where Joel was inspired to start a program to help their employees with financial aid for college.
  • Joel has received thousands and thousands of letters after doing Undercover Boss about how people are frustrated by working under bad leadership.
  • Joel recently released a book called Love Works, about loving and caring for the people you lead.
  • “I fundamentally disagree with the false dichotomy of people and profits.”
  • The book is based on 7 words out of 1 Corinthians 13 about love, and they use those 7 words in his company as guiding principals for how employees should live.
  • “Trust your team so they will trust you.”
  • “The higher you go in an organization the fewer decisions you should make.”
  • Joel talked about how Christians often times aren't completely truthful in giving people feedback because they don't want to hurt their feelings. So, the great performers are encouraged and get better and the poor performers don't learn and grow.

Craig Groeschel

  • Craig has a new book called Soul Detox.
  • What do you think success is for the next generation? How would we answer that as parents and church leaders?
  • “Culture believes success is raising well-rounded, well-educated, happy kids.”
  • “When I hire a staff member I don't want someone who is average at a lot of things, rather, I want somebody who is great at a few things.”
  • “Worshiping the false God of happiness leads us into sin.”
  • Psalm 71:18
  • “We are called to unleash single-minded, Christ-centered, Biblically-anchored world changers.”
  • The quickest way to forget what God thinks about us is to focus on what others think about us.
  • Deuteronomy 6:4-9– 3 things to learn from this
    • Enlist supporting voices – Parents will always be the most important voice but should not be the only voice. The Groeschel's have had college students live with them to mentor them, and have them mentor their kids. In some cases, as the Church, we are the only voice in a child's life.
    • We need to raise the expectations for the next generation –  Don't just expect some commitment. As in the Deuteronomy passage, challenge them to love God with ALL, not some of your heart, soul and strength. We will rarely ever get more than we ask for. 1 Corinthians 13:11. The Groeschel's challenge their kids to get a mentor and be a mentor.
    • Keep it real – Talk about God, the Bible and life throughout the day. Make it commonplace. Let your kids watch you live it out with authenticity.

My takeaways

  • I need to get Joel's book Love Works and Craig's book Soul Detox and have our family ministry team read them.
  • I should try to get the Groeschel's to write a book about parenting, including all of the specific things they have done in raising their kids. I have no connection to Craig Groeschel so that might be tough.

Orange Conference 2012: Session 3

Andy Stanley

  • “The local church should be the greatest place in the world to work.”
  • Andy wants everyone who works at North Point to say that job was the best job they ever had.
  • New employees at North Point evaluate the church after their first 3 months.
  • Mark 10:32-37
  • “Healthy and productive staff cultures are characterized by mutual submission.”
  • “I may be the boss but I'm here to facilitate your success.”
  • While our responsibilities differ, everybody is essential to the success of the enterprise.
  • The question mutual submission asks is – “How can I help?”
  • We should be the best servers of other people.
  • Jesus is the only anointed one, unlike the Old Testament where kings were anointed and everybody served them.

Best practices for mutual submission

  1. Do for one what you wish you could for everyone.
    1. Do not be fair, be engaged.
  2. Systemize top-down service.
    1. How can I leverage my influence and gifts to support those I lead?
  3. Create and maintain a sustainable pace.
    1. One reason we don't serve others is because we don't have time.
  4. Celebrate and reward mutual submission when you see it.
    1. What's rewarded is repeated.
    2. What's punished is avoided.
    3. What's neither rewarded or punished is neglected.
  5. Confront your ego.
    1. Secretly, senior pastors may view their staff as a cast of characters who are there to support you.
  6. You have to drop the term loyalty from your vocabulary.
    1. Anyone who demands loyalty has a loyalty problem.

Andy read a quote from Albert Speer, Adolf Hitler's chief architect who witnessed Hitler's horrible leadership. He read from Albert's book, including this quote and more:

“There is a special trap for every holder of power. . . .His favor is so desirable to his subordinates that they will sue for it by every means possible. Servility becomes endemic among his entourage, who compete among themselves in their show of devotion. This exercises a sway over the ruler who becomes corrupted in turn.”

Matt McKee

  • Leaders should understand social media because it's about people connecting to one another.
  • We can get past our local community through social media. It's not about the medium, it's about the connection.

Jon Acuff

  • Social media matters if you believe people matter.
  • If people do matter, then get involved in with social media because that's where people are.
  • Jon wrote a book called Quitter – Closing the gap between your day job & your dream job.
  • As of June 2011 people spent more time on mobile apps than on their computers.
  • Churches shouldn't be afraid to talk to younger, less experienced people.
  • You don't have to be everywhere on social media. Invest where your community is.
  • “I wish Christian hate mail was an oxymoron.”

Orange Award

The Orange Award was given to Denise Briley, for launching a special needs initiative in her church that has been hugely influential in the church. People who have special needs children and/or work with special needs children were honored as well.

My Takeaways

  • I've heard Andy teach this before and I try to incorporate it into my leadership but to make sure I do, I will add the question “How can I help?” to every reminder or calendar item where I'm meeting with someone I lead.
  • We share wins at our family ministry meeting each week but I want us to make sure we celebrate where we see mutual submission happening.
  • I'm putting on my to-do list to talk through a mobile strategy specifically for our parents. The Parent Cue App (iPhone / Android) already helps but we send so much communication to parents and I'd love to have that same communication available through a mobile app. Time to talk to my friend Matt McKee and ROAR.

Orange Conference 2012: Session 4

Mawi Asgedom

  • Mawi's story is an amazing journey from being an Ethiopian refugee to author and motivator of thousands of students.
  • A game changing moment in Mawi's life was when his youth pastor had him and other students in his group read specific scriptures, reflect on the meaning, think about how it applies to him, and write action steps to put into place to apply it. He grew through that process.
  • “You never know the impact you will have. That's how you could be a game changer.”

Kara Powell

  • Sometimes we do church like we're two totally different teams, adults and children/students. It's like the children's table at holiday dinners.
  • Luke 2:41
    • Who took care of Jesus while his parents were gone for 3 days?
    • We don't know, but probably the faith community.
    • Nobody asked them to take of Jesus, they went a day before realizing he wasn't with them.
  • Kara noted that 40-50% of students who grow up in church leave after high school. Usually that number is seen as higher, even recent studies show it's still around 70%, though not all leave because they don't believe.
  • She noted that the research they have done ( has led them to new insights.
  • They found that getting kids and students involved in community with all the generations in the church, it helps their development.
  • Do you want to help end the segregation (of age groups) that hurts the children in your church?

Orange Conference 2012: Session 5

Doug Fields

Doug shared 3 things that he looks back on after his time as a student minister and realized he was blinded by.

  • Importance of numbers
    • Doug was more familiar with John Maxwell's leadership material than the Bible.
    • When you focus too much on numbers you become blinded and you think bigger is better.
    • Doug referenced the book Renovation of the Church.
  • Pace of life
    • Ministry never ends. There's always more to do.
    • Doug had a longing for isolation when he was too busy in ministry.
  • Constant comparison
    • Comparing your ministry to other ministries. How you lead compared to others. How you preach compared to others.
    • People compare you to other people.

These aren't bad things on their own. It's when you focus on them too much that it distracts you. Doug learned these lessons after looking back on those blind spots.

  • Bigger isn't better. Better is better
    • Most people in church don't want to be a number.
    • Numbers can feed our ego.
  • Hurry is the enemy of depth
    • There's a price to pay for hurry.
    • You can't rush discipleship.
  • Replace comparison with effectiveness
    • I needed to stop comparing and start abiding.

Do you pay attention, deeply, to the things Jesus cares about?

  • What if we went on a numbers detox?
  • Quit being impressed by the busyness of other people.
  • Busyness is a sign of brokenness.
  • When you look to the future, are you happy with where your soul is headed?

My Takeaways

  • We tell stories at our family ministry team meeting each week. Those stories are typically not about numbers, though it does come up. I want to care about numbers, because they represent people, but I want to make sure we're talking about other important things as well.

My Orange Conference Highlights

  • My #1 highlight always surrounds the people. We took 7 other people from our church and 2 from a partner church and I had a great time experiencing the conference with them.
  • I also had great conversations with a number of leaders including David Lyons, Dan Scott, Jon & Gina Napier, Bre Hallberg, Carey Nieuwhof, Sean Seay, Tom Pounder, Mike Kelly, Nina Schmidgall, Jenilee LeFors and others.
  • Craig Groeschel preached a great message on Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
  • Jim Wideman reminded me of the importance of giving people shots at leading at higher levels, even if they're not sure if they can do it, or want to do it. It's an experiment so there aren't any huge expectations.
  • Tony Morgan was one of the best conference workshop speakers I've ever had. I've followed his blog for 5+ years, read most of his books and talked to him in person but this was the first time I've really seen him present or teach. He had helpful, practical content and engaging presentation.
  • The importance of leveraging social media was talked about multiple times. Our church does this pretty well but we can definitely improve. I have ideas of how we can do this.
  • Andy Stanley's talk about mutual submission on staff was killer. I've already heard him say most of it before, but he did add a lot more pointed things specifically to senior ministers who think they're “anointed”. It was hilarious and convicting.
  • Like every year, the music was amazing. I love the song parodies that are done to pay tribute to specific groups of people in church.