I have had a few days to come off of the Orange Conference high so I could think clearly about the Orange Conference 2011 experience.
This is what I gathered from Orange:
Energy and Synergy: There was an insane amount of energy and excitement for what God is doing in the church. There were tons of stories about what God is doing around the world. It was also cool to witness how an all church staff comes together to talk about the same ministry strategy. It appeared that there was this immediately unspoken agreement and alignment amongst the church staff in attendance. Some times ministry is very discouraging and disappointing. I realized why it is important to get away from the church for a few days and to receive a boost of energy, excitement, and encouragement which challenges one to feel empowered, called and equipped to kill it in the day to day operations when he/she returns back to the ministry trenches. In fact, during the backstage live stream interviews (@www.makingoforange.com) I directly asked Eric Draper, George Bush’s photographer, what his initial thoughts were about the Orange Conference experience and he said: “There is a lot of energy here which is inspiring and motivating.”
Relational and Intentional: One of the many cool things about Orange is it family feel. It was so refreshing to put so many names to an actual face. Conversations about the Orange strategy are happening all throughout the year so Orange Conference functions like a time to gather all the peeps so everyone together can come celebrate in what God is doing in all our churches. However Orange Conference is not just “hang out” time. Orange Conference is so intentional in it’s event schedule that attenders work hard during the sessions and breakouts and attenders have many opportunities to get away with their teams to download and process what is being communicated.
A reminder of why Deuteronomy 6 is so essential: I deeply believe there is a fragmentation within the church and youth ministries are guilty for isolating themselves away from the family of God. Traditionally youth pastors got involved in youth ministry so they didn’t have to hang around adults and could only hang out with students without being bothered by other parents, adults, and church staff members. Historically the family and community were central to the church. In 1970, youth ministry became very specialized. As a result youth ministries started to drift away from church as student pastors started perfecting their skill of ministering to students via programs, events, and funny messages. All of a sudden the church became very compartmentalized, fractured, and out of sync. Deuteronomy 6 reminders church leaders (especially youth pastors) that family, church family, and community are responsible for spiritually raising the next generation.
**** BONUS: I met a ton of youth pastors (Ben Kerns, Jeff Rogers, Min Han, Adam Soul, Nathan Want (my aussie mate), Jason Lerew, Jason Chenoweth, Daniel Butler, Ed Burton, Rhea Barlow, Shaun Noble, Lupe Gaytan, Andrew Matrone, JB Powell, Derek Hurang, Glen Sparks, Cody Mummau, Justin Herman, Jose Putzu, Jamie Weiss, David Kissell, Howie Snyder, Jeff Brodie, and Eric Addison) that are humble, sharp, and wanting to give the keys back to the parents and community to raise the next generation of students who are empty, depressed, lonely, over-programmed, and are hungry for adults to genuinely care, love, and support them in their journey and ready to change the world.