These are my notes from the Orange Conference 2015 Breakouts. Orange is a conference for family ministry teams and senior leadership in churches. You can see my notes from the Main Sessions here.

Creating a Strategy for Improving Your NextGen Strategy – Adam Duckworth

Every ministry age group leader should care as much about every age group as they do their own.

5 Gauges to Monitor

Strategy Gauge

  • Churches spend a lot of time on their mission, and not enough time on their strategy.
  • Mission is what you’re going to do. Strategy is how you’re going to do it.
  • Are you aligning your systems so that your staff, your leaders and your parents lead to the same end in mind?
  • Figure out the end. For Orange, the end is all about relationships.

Experience Gauge

  • Create an experience that’s age appropriate, relevant and fun.
  • Are you crafting core truths into engaging, relevant, and memorable experiences?
  • Do people like coming to the environments you’re creating?
  • When is the last time you experienced your environments as an outsider?

Parent Gauge

  • Nobody has the opportunity to influence a child like their parents.
  • How have you developed a strategy where parents actively participate in the spiritual formation of their own children to build an everyday faith?
  • When was the last time you considered how your current program could help lead their children?

Groups Gauge

  • Move from the classroom model to a relationship model.
  • Are you creating a culture that truly grows and develops leaders who serve in your ministry?
  • Relationship = discipleship, so we must train people and give ministry away to people who can develop those relationships.

Service Gauge

  • Are you providing middle and high school students the opportunity to get in the game, or just be spectators?
  • Are you creating consistent opportunities for kids and students to experience personal ministry?
  • Where are you creating those opportunities? Don’t relegate them to the sidelines when they serve.
  • When is the last time students have done something meaningful for someone else in your ministry?

Personal Gauge

  • When is the last time you prioritized your own development over someone else’s? 

My Ideas for Action Items

  • Buy the Orange Leader Handbook and use it to evaluate your ministry.
  • Bring in an outsider to evaluate your environments and debrief. This could be a friend from another church, or an unchurched person who can help you see things you are blind to.
  • Create a plan for getting middle and high school students involved in ministry. (Side note, we set a goal this year to have a greater percentage of students serving than adults).

7 Quirks of Incredible Volunteers

Start Somewhereocnotnormal

  • Many people never take the first step.
    • The needs are too big.
    • There are too many to choose from.
    • They’re looking for the perfect fit.
  • Try something that appeals to you.
  • Start over if you’ve been burned.

Small is Big

  • Not normal volunteers believe the smallest things they do have the biggest results.
  • Don’t look for big things to do, look for small things. Small things have a bigger impact than we realize.

Own, Don’t Rent

  • Not normal volunteers are owners, not renters.
  • Owners invest more for a bigger return.
    • They show up on time.
    • They read their curriculum before they arrive.
    • They commit to serve each week. 

You, Me, & We

  • This is not about me. It’s not about you. It’s about how we do this together.
  • Everyone should understand we’re in this together.
  • Volunteers should get to know each other and develop relationships.
  • It’s about looking side to side to see what is going on around you – rather than focusing on yourself.

Honor the Leader

  • Leaders need volunteers. They need love, support, prayer.
  • When volunteers work against their leader, nothing good comes out of it.
  • Sometimes the best thing a volunteer can do is amicably move on if they are in conflict with their leader over vision.
  • Your leader needs a cheerleader, not a drama queen.

Replace Yourself

  • Many volunteers should look for and identify their next step.
  • Let go of what you want. Let go of your current role. Let go of controlling your future.

You Can’t Always See It

  • Many kids aren’t going to tell you how you have impacted them spiritually.
  • Help people understand they may never see those results, and that’s okay.

My Ideas for Action Items

  • Evaluate volunteer recruitment strategy to ensure there are clear opportunities where people can start.
  • Use the Not Normal book content in a volunteer training.
  • Identify a role you play where you can replace yourself.
  • Celebrate wins from student ministry in preschool and elementary to help people see the impact, even if it’s not on the specific kids they led.

Developing a Weekly Plan to Become a Better NextGen Leader

John Huber

  • Matthew 4 – Jesus calls us to be part of his mission, and he will “make you fishers of men”.
  • Revisit our call to his mission often. Go to the place where you first felt that call.
  • We need to make a plan with action steps.
  • We need to invite others to speak into our lives.

Cindy Fiala

  • Ask questions. “Good questions inform. Great questions transform.” – John Maxwell
  • Am I genuinely interested in others?
  • Am I humble?
  • Am I adding value to my team? Is my team better because I showed up?
  • Am I investing my time in my best people?
  • Be intentional with my own relationship with Christ.
  • Know your why and lead from that.

Frank Bealer

  • Balance doesn’t exist.
  • Think integration, not balance. Make Jesus the center.
  • Use this phrase to make exceptions, unplanned things that take your time, more integrated:
    When this… (i.e. When I have to spend a night out in a meeting)
    Then that… (i.e.  Then I take the morning off and spend it with my kids)

How to Reach and Keep Families As a NextGen Leader – Pat Rowland

occhurchlessFamilies have less time for your church.

  • 67% of Americans are dual-income homes.
  • Programs and activities run the family around 7 days a week.
  • The 20-30 year old demographic the one missing from church the most.

Regular attender is being re-defined.

  • The typical rhythm of a family, even a Christian family, is becoming less connected.
  • “A “regular” church goer shows up for worship once every four to six week” – Churchless (Barna Group)

The traditional family is becoming the exception.

  • 18% of unchurched people fit the “traditional” family.
  • Single parents are the fastest growing demographic.

Things Pat is learning about single parents.

  • Single parents are cautious and fearful.
  • Single parents want to be acknowledged, but not noticed.
  • Single parents want an invitation to be part of the church family.
  • Single parents need financial assistance, but they won’t necessarily ask for it.
  • Single parents are willing to serve, but not every week and not away from their kids.

5 Big Matters in NextGen

  • Image Matters
    • First time visitors are deciding about your church in seconds, and before they even attend through your web presence.
    • Public perception is reality.
    • Clarify your identity.
  • Environment Matters
    • We want to create spaces, not places. A space is inviting and irresistible.
    • Your environments communicate something, and possibly something bad.
  • In Creating Spaces
    • Focus on all 5 senses.
    • Know your audience.
    • Put on your first time glasses.
    • People in the place reflect the space.
  • Experience Matters
    • Focus on quality.
    • Time to plan.
    • More innovation than budget.
    • Say “yes” to the best.
    • Development over delivery.
    • Give them a story.
  • Connection Matters
    • Create a culture of connection.
    • View follow up as an invitation to connect, not to invite to another event.
  • Every day matters

My Ideas for Action Items

  • Plan meetings to evaluate your strategy and message as it relates to single parent families and all non-traditional families.
  • Walk through your space with a guest and evaluate every piece of it.
  • Evaluate your ministry with the 5 Matters from above and discuss with your team.

5 Best Practices to Building a Learning Team

Nina Schmidgall, Cindy Fiala, Pat Rowland, Kenny Conley

oclearningExpectations for Content Consumption

  • Have a culture of learning on your team.
  • Have a rhythm of learning together.
  • Expect everyone on the team to be learners, and self-learners.
  • Read together.
  • As the leader, you may need to aggregate and feed content.

Strategic Offsites

  • Use offsite retreats to grow together.
  • Use offsite trips during the day (not overnight) to focus specifically on something.
  • Use offsite time to work on bigger things, but also to strengthen relationships.

Mentoring Relationships

  • Join a coaching network.
  • Pay for 1-on-1 mentoring relationship with someone who is further down the road.

Intentional Networking

  • Pursue relationships with people you don’t know yet.
  • Introduce yourself to people you have only know of online.

My Ideas for Action Items

  • Build learning into the rhythm of your team meetings, even in small chunks. Discuss a chapter, a podcast, an article, etc.
  • Reach out to someone to start a coaching/mentoring relationship. Just start by asking for time to ask questions.
  • Find a network, or start a network in your area.
  • Kenny’s idea – join twitter, follow everyone who used the #iamnextgen hashtag, message 5 of them with a question in the next week.