Recently, Northstar’s Children’s Ministry staff had the privilege of attending the Orange Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Both Aaron and Julie have attended the Orange Conference in the past. But this year was my first time.
The conference far exceeded my expectations!
From the minute we showed up to the minute we left, the entire conference area was filled with high energy volunteers giving high fives, welcoming smiles, and playing fun music. I felt like I was going to summer camp. The following three days were filled with main session speakers, high energy worship, and a variety of subject specific breakout sessions.
We weren’t supposed to go this time. But it was this year’s theme, For Our Neighbors, that caused us to change plans and attend the conference. The children’s ministry team has been talking for the past six months about how to develop a more mission minded culture for our Bloom and Jumpstart ministries. It felt like this conference was designed just for us!
One of the breakout sessions I attended was called Moving Preschoolers to be Neighbor Minded by Cass Brannan. I was so encouraged by this pastor’s passion for allowing his children to serve and to serve often. His main point was that we should teach preschoolers to be neighbor minded so they will be come neighbor minded adults. If we provide kids with opportunities to serve, they’ll come up with even more ideas to go a step further. Cass’ personal philosophy is that he never says no when one of his five boys asks to serve someone, even if it’s a total inconvenience to his schedule, he makes it happen. He believes that no child is too small to serve; there is always some way they can help. His smallest boys deliver Gatorade to the mailman on hot days. I left convicted to not only model what it means to be neighbor minded, but to have my boys pray for opportunities to serve those around them.
I left the conference feeling even more excited about the job I hold and so spiritually encouraged. It is so fun to be surrounded by people who have such a deep love for Jesus and for sharing that love with children. I heard an abundance of quotes that were convicting, encouraging, and challenging. I’m going to conclude with a few of my favorites…
- “The next generation needs someone who has gone before them to be for them.” – Gerald Fadayomi
- “There are no ordinary children.” – Danielle Strickland
- “When we are for our neighbors, we make room for someone new.” – Ryan Leak
- “If I’m going to reach outsiders, I’m going to have to go outside.” – Ryan Leak
And my two favorites, for all our AMAZING Children’s Ministry Volunteers…
- “We prepare during the week for preschoolers because we are doing ministry to the littlest of hearts, not babysitting!” – Allison Lehman
- “We prepare during the week for volunteers because they are not just the means to ministry, they ARE the ministry.” – Allison Lehman