How a Person at the Orange Conference Changed My Life

I spent just one night in a hotel room with a stranger and it changed my life and ministry forever. Here is that story.


Matt Norman

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Is Orange Conference Just For Children’s Ministers?

If you are in ministry, then you are aware of the many different conferences out there designed to help us do what we do, even better. There is also a fair chance that you have heard of the Orange Conference. Unfortunately, there is a fair chance that you think that Orange is a children’s ministry thing. Maybe you think that it is for children and youth. But, it is actually so much more than that. If you lead within the context of the local church, then this conference is for you. 
Start-Up Church: I am very excited about this track. This is a track aimed at church planters. As I am moving in that direction I am very excited to go to some of the sessions on this track and see what God has to teach me through the experience.

Marriage Ministry:
Ok, not every church has a marriage ministry. But, every church has married people. That being true we should all be dedicated to helping the married people inner church have better marriages. This track is designed to help you do just that. 

Social Media:
 It’s funny somehow I managed to get old enough to remember when social media wasn’t even a thing. Now, however, it is a thing and it is an important part of our lives. It is also vital to your ministry. If we are honest we would have to admit that just about every one of us could do a better job with the social media strategy of our church. This track can help.

Special Needs: 
The vast majority of churches have NO strategy when it comes to children with special needs. If you are building a full on special needs ministry or just looking to increase your understanding of some of the unique needs that some of these wonderful people have this is a great option for you and your church.

City Ministry:
Ministry in an urban setting is difficult. Ok, ALL ministry is difficult, but ministry in true urban settings also different. This track seeks to look at these differences and prepare leaders for it.

NextGen Leader:
This is a track for leaders of leaders. Aimed at the people that lead from a family ministry perspective, overseeing multiple levels of generational ministries.

Preschool, Children, Middle School, High School:
These tracks are just as they appear. They are the best and brightest speakers in each of these areas sharing from their own experiences.These are people that are actually doing this stuff in churches all over the country. The knowledge they share is from stuff they have actually done, not just untested theories. 
Bottom line: Orange Conference is for leaders. No matter what you do in the church Orane is a great conference for you.

Matt Norman

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The Messy Gospel. Orange Conference 2012

This week is Orange Blogger Week. A week where those of us that blog for Orange finally get the recognition that we deserve. A week where we are celebrated for the geniuses that we are. Ok, none of that is true. Rather it is a week to discuss all things orange. Ok, not ALL things orange, but all things related to the orange strategy that seeks to form partnerships between the church and families. I have written a number of posts about the Orange Strategy, the Orange Tour, and the Orange Conference. Here are some links to some of those posts:
For this post I wanted to do something a little different and highlight the sort of content that one can expect when attending this Orange Conference. This content comes from Reggie Joiner as he spoke at one of the general sessions about the messiness of the gospel.
The gospel is the reason that the church even exists. If we just existed for ourselves, then we could all move to a tropical island and not worry about everyone else. If we are not careful this is exactly what we do. Ok, we don’t move to a tropical island, but we do tend to build holy little islands within our communities. We have build buildings, hold services and have created cultures that, even if not intentionally, keep everyone else out. We build buildings where protecting the drywall, the paint, to the lawn is more important than reaching the lost.
I can understand why this happens. As Reggie Joiner points out it’s because, the gospel is messy. In his talk at OC12:
  • “Sometimes God calls us to step into a community or a place that we are not ready for.”
  • “Sometimes the gospel is messier that we signed up form.”
The truth is the gospel is messy. Sometimes it means doing things and being around and with people that we are not comfortable with, people that are different than us. This can be difficult and is definitely, messy. As Reggie pointed out Jesus couldn’t do what He came to do without getting messy. He talked with people that no one else would talk to. He had dinner with people that other Jews avoided. He touched people that no one else would touch. Ultimately, He went to the cross. It doesn’t get any messier than that.
Jesus was willing to do the messiest thing in history so that we might be saved. In spite of this we often avoid doing what it takes to reach people because we don’t want to get messy. Someone was willing to get messy for us and yet we try to avoid getting messy for others. Paul wrote, “I become all things for all people so that I may by every possible means save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22) This is the essence of the messy gospel. We must become all things so that some may be saved, even if it means getting messy.
Matt Norman

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While You’re At The Orange Conference

As I write this many people are traveling or finalizing preparations to travel to Atlanta for the Orange Conference. Sadly, I am not among them this year. But, I thought I would share some thoughts for those that are going, to help them get the most out of their experience.

1.) Worship. Many people in children’s ministry seldom have the chance to worship at their home church. This is your opportunity. There will be AMAZING times of worship at the Orange Conference. Take advantage of them. Remember your best ministry comes from the overflow of what God is doing in you. Be refueled.

2.) Meet someone virtual. There will be a great many people there. There will be some people that you may have connected with online, but have never met in person. Make plans to meet up with some of these people. Have lunch with them. Virtual connections are great, but meeting in person can take that relationship to a whole new level.

3.) Meet someone new.  There will be thousands of people there. Most of them you will know. For many of us it can be difficult to talk to people we don’t know. But, having something in common with a person makes it easier. Remember every single person there has a passion for ministry to children and families. You already have a connection. Need something more concrete? Talk to someone standing near one of the exhibition booths, about the booth. Or hang out near the King of Pops stand and ask them which flavor their enjoying. However you decide to do it, meet someone new.

4.) King of Pops. Ok, this may have nothing to do with the conference itself, but every year there is a vendor there called King of Pops. They sell gourmet popsicles. Trust me, you want one of these.

5.) Skip a session. If your church is paying for you to attend, them you may feel obligated to get as much out of it as possible. This is admirable and should be your goal. However, sometimes “getting the most out of it” happens by NOT being in a session. One of the best breakouts I ever had at any conference was one that I skipped. I spent the entire time talking with Amy Dolan. It was a great time of inspiration for me and I made a new friend. I can’t tell you what session I skipped, but I CAN tell you that it was worth it.

Maybe the best thing you can do during this time is rest. This may come in the form of simply sitting in a hallway going over your notes, enjoying a cup of coffee, or sitting outside enjoying King of Pops. Whatever it is take some time to rest.

6.) Take good notes. Attending a conference like this is kinda like drinking water from a fire hose. There will be so much information coming at you that you will never be able to remember everything that you hear. Take good notes. This will give you something to look at when you get home and have time to process it all.

7.) Ask questions. One of the things I LOVE about children’s ministry is that there are no super stars. Certainly there are people that I consider to be Kidmin Superstars. But, they are approachable. You can actually have conversations with them. So, at the end of a session take the time to approach the speaker if you have questions. Connect with the speaker. I have had many of them give me there email addresses and other contact information and offer to answer questions in the future.

8.) Have fun. Ministry to children can be a lot of fun. But, for those of us that lead, the fun comes only after a lot of work. Without us planning and setting up the fun, then the fun doesn’t happen. So, take the time to have fun while you are at the conference. Orange is good about setting up chances for those attending to have fun. One year there were two giant ball pits for US to jump in. One year they had an inflatable jousting arena. There are also usually meet-ups/parties schedule one night for the different age groups. Seek out these opportunities for YOU to have fun that you didn’t have to plan or organize.

I hope that you find this post helpful. I know that you will have an amazing time at the Orange Conference. I can’t make it this year, but I will be there for #OC16. You can count on it.

Matt Norman

Thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. To ensure that you never miss a post subscribe using the space on the right side of the screen.