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This has been my first time at Orange Conference and I could not be happier with my experience in Atlanta with all of the session before the Conference started along with all of the main sessions. I was able to sit under some experts in the field of student ministry and heard various ideas to make student ministry excellent in whatever context we all find ourselves in. I am honored with the connections I have made through random events and people knowing that guy or girl that allowed me to make a connection. My first experience with Orange Conference was a success and I look forward to implementing things learned over the coming weeks and months.
Top 3 things I have learned from Orange 2012:
Youth Ministry is not limited to a certain “type”
In our Christian circles these days, we look at the guys who are the “famous” preachers and teachers. We try to copy their style in preaching and most of the time in dressing; plaid, enough said. What I have found to surprise me is that Student Ministry leaders and pastors are not limited to a young guy with TOMS and a plaid shirt, carrying a moleskin, but they are coming from all walks of life with various styles and looks and some wouldn’t even know what a moleskin is.
I am highly encouraged by this because it means that people are wanting to learn how to best serve, love on, and disciple those who are not the church of tomorrow, but rather the church of today. It means that people who couldn’t remember high school graduation are concerned with helping those in the thick of it get to that day. I have loved talking with these people because it allows me to understand that when I look for ministry volunteers and youth workers, I will be less likely to fall into that trap.
We Must Be Open To Different Kinds Of Teaching
One of the biggest things that I find fault in my growing as a pastor is the tendency to only listen to or read certain types of people from certain “camps” of thought. Sitting under guys this week that I haven’t heard of before and gaining so much knowledge from these sessions God used to show me that I need to be more open to listening and reading more guys than I expose myself to now. I don’t want us to get too carried away with this and say that we can listen to whoever we want to because we can get in trouble with that. What I am saying is that we should check out who is spot on with the close handed issues theologically and be open to more people who fall in that category, but maybe have not had quite a large voice in the Christian culture today.
I feel this is so important to the growth of all of us as pastor, teachers, volunteers, whatever your role in the church is because as we grow in Christ and knowledge from different leaders we, in turn, are able to lead better, grow deeper disciples, and point more people to Christ. This should be our ultimate responsibility as leaders in our local churches.
Youth Ministry Networking Is Key. Duh.
This is something that I feel I have known, but being able to actually talk to guys and gals that are in the trenches daily in the local body. I feel like this should be the lifeline of ministry in general, specifically student ministry pastors and leaders. Whether that is tracking some down after your sessions or connecting through Facebook or twitter, we must try our best to meet up. Whether it is connecting with those in the day in and day out of ministry so you can bounce ideas of each other, networking with those at a conference like this or better in the local context of our communities, we can’t get around this. So if you are reading this, start making those connection and start to network so you can build up those around you who are doing what you do, so that you can carry the burdens with others along with celebrating the victories that keep us doing what we do!
I hope those that read this can relate to me whether it was your first time at Orange or if you are a veteran of the conference as we all think through the sessions on our way to “Thinking Orange”.