Orange Conference 2016: A First-Timer’s Perspective

Blog, Children's Ministry

OrangeI’ve been hearing great things about the Orange Conference for years. Even before I became involved with Northstar’s children’s ministry, a friend encouraged me to attend the annual conference. He told me it would change my life. Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to join our kids’ ministry staff for three days in Atlanta for this year’s conference. To say it was an amazing experience is an understatement.

First, a little background on Orange. It’s where we get our curriculum for our Bloom and Jumpstart classes. Orange was founded by Reggie Joiner and comes from the idea of combining two very strong influences on a child’s life: church and home. The church is illustrated with the color yellow, representing the light of truth that comes from Jesus. Home is illustrated with red, representing the love of family. When these two influences combine to work together, you have Orange.

The conference was a mix of large group sessions and smaller breakouts. The main sessions in the arena provided us with teaching from the likes of Andy Stanley, Jon Acuff, and Perry Noble, as well as times of worship led by a talented group of musicians. It’s a beautiful thing, hearing nearly 8,000 voices united in singing praises to God. The breakout sessions gave us more nuanced insights into how we can effectively minister to children, students, and families.

Orange Conference WorshipThe theme for this year’s conference was “Monday Is Coming…” Before getting any context for that theme, I thought, Of course Monday is coming. It happens every week. What does that have to do with children’s ministry? Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long for the full explanation. As a children’s ministry, being able to recognize that Monday, as well as the rest of the week, is coming for our kids, is crucial to the way we minister to them on Sunday.

During our first session on Wednesday night, we heard from Reggie Joiner, the man who founded Orange. He spoke about approaching ministry with more than a Sunday morning mindset by focusing on what’s to come once someone walks out the door of the church and faces the world that awaits them on Monday morning. With a Sunday mindset, we only think about the next hour. With a Monday mindset, we have to think about the entire week.

The saddest hour of the week occurs at noon on Sunday. It’s the first time that people realize that Monday is coming.

As a counselor working in an elementary school, I’m given a unique perspective on what Mondays can look like for children outside of the church. It’s a perspective that some in children’s ministry may not be able to see all the time. Honestly, it’s a perspective that I can be blind to on some days because, just like everyone else, I’m dealing with my own kind of Monday. But when we look, it’s easy to see that Mondays are scary. Mondays are confusing. Mondays are stressful. Mondays are loud. What we do on Sunday in ministering to kids and students and adults needs to be more powerful than what they encounter on Monday. What they hear on Sunday needs to echo beyond the doors of the church and into their lives throughout the week. The truth of the gospel needs to be louder than the lies that they are confronted with daily.

Monday Is ComingThroughout the week, I heard all about the importance of ministering not only to our children and students, but to our volunteers as well. I heard about the importance of not only speaking truth in love, but the importance of knowing who we’re speaking to. I heard about how it isn’t our job to fix anyone, but it is our job to love them. I look back at this and am aware that this should all be common sense. But it’s all something I need to hear again and again, because I’m flawed and forgetful of just how important it is to ministry.

I cannot put into words the passion with which many of the conference leaders spoke. I can’t convey it through a blog post. But if I can pass on anything from last week, I want it to be encouragement. I encourage you to meet people where they are. It isn’t enough to visit with them on Sunday when they live on Monday. Telling someone about Jesus on Sunday may not be as impactful as showing someone Jesus on Monday. Remember that the smallest things can have the biggest impact on people’s lives.

I’m not saying that everyone should drop what they’re doing next year and go to the Orange Conference. Actually, that’s exactly what I’m saying. It’ll change your life.