Category Archives: Conferences

#OrangeTour comes to the San Francisco Bay Area!!!

I’m excited to be at the Orange Tour at Westgate Church in San Jose, CA.

I thought these name tags with your Twitter handle were great!

Reggie opened up with a great challenge to meet the changes of culture in a positive light. I love this emphasis by Reggie and the ReThink group. He challenged all of us to think about how we are trying to reach the 75% of the people who will never enter the church. I can go on about my ideas of the theological and sociological ideals that have led to the church focusing on just the 25% who are already here, but that would take too long and many of you would nod off. In short, I agree with Reggie that we have lost sight of one of our imperatives to go outside of ourselves and respectfully engage those who don’t believe what we believe.

If you haven’t attended anything Orange, and you are in any type of ministry that engages families, what are you waiting for? Check out one of the Tour stops or go to the Orange Conference!

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Orange 12: 5th and 6th Grade Transitions

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This past August, I became the 4th/5th Grade Director at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church. Prior to that I had overseen everything in children’s ministry at my previous churches. It was an amazing thing to be able to spend time on a more focused age span. One of the biggest things that sprang up working with the 4th and 5th grade was how to transition kids from 5th grade (children’s ministry) to 6th grade (middle school ministry). If we don’t successfully hand off the kids and their parents, we run the inevitability of losing those kids in a few short months.

I was excited to sit in on Dan Scott’s breakout on transitions for 5th and 6th grades. Dan shared about the demographics, sociology, and development of pre-teen kids. It was great because there is a lot of misinformation and missed information regarding the tween age group. We make assumptions of these kids based on our memories of when we were their age. We can’t do that! Today’s tweens grew up and developed in a world that is galaxies apart from the world we were a part of when we were their age.

Click on the link below to download the notes from Dan’s breakout.

5th-6th Grade Transitions

Orange 12: Jon Acuff

Reggie: Why do you think social media is important?

Jon: If you care about people then it matters. The church is behind.

Reggie: What can we do to catch up?

Jon: Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” Go where your community is. You don’t have to be everywhere in social media. Just go where your people are. Don’t establish an “online personality.” Be one person. Then ask, “What kinds of problems can you solve?”

Hope is infectious. Hope goes viral.

Reggie: How did social media change your life?

Jon: started StuffChristiansLike.com as a way to critique Christians copying stuff (ripping stuff off). It became something like the mustard seed. You don’t need to know where it’s going. God knows.

Reggie: How do you lean into leaders to stop beating each other online.

Jon: I wish Christian hate mail was an oxymoron. When we wound other Christians online, you lose ability to speak love and hope later.

Rejecting social media is like saying, “I don’t like hills, so I won’t go hear Jesus speak.”

Fear fears community.

Orange 12: Andy Stanley

Andy Stanley shared about the one thing that drives healthy staff culture.

Mark 10:34-45

BE A SERVANT

Healthy and productive staff cultures are characterized by mutual submission.

The purpose of the leader is to lift everyone else up.

Everyone is essential in an organization. There are no non-essential people.

The question mutual submission asks: “How can I help you?”

The problem: A view of the “Old Testament” priest of someone with a “special” anointing. It’s just not true! We all are anointed. Until everyone understands that, you won’t have a staff culture of mutual submission.

If you are anointed then you should be the best server.

1. Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone. Don’t buy into the myth that you have to do it for everyone. Do not be fair. Be engaged!

2. Systematize top-down service.

3. Create and maintain a sustainable pace. If not, ministry becomes ME-nistry.

4. Celebrate and reward mutual submission when you see it. What’s rewarded is repeated. What’s punished is avoided. What’s neither rewarded or punished gets neglected.

5. Confront your ego. If you have a big ego, then let your staff know.

6. Drop the term loyalty from your vocabulary. It didn’t make it into the fruit of the spirit. If you need to demand loyalty, you’ve got a loyalty issues.

Where to start: How can I help?

‘Tis the Season to Be Orange!

Orange kicked off on Wednesday night with a bang! The evening began with a challenge on stage of who at church was famous. What followed was a series of great parodies!

Ever wondered what it would be like if Steve Tyler of Aerosmith worked in the church nursery?

How about Lionel Ritchie as a greeter?

One of my personal favorites… Emminem as a Middle School Pastor

Adele as a Children’s Pastor was priceless.

Not to be outdone, Lanny Donoho shared his rendition of The Righteous Brothers as Senior Pastors

We, then, were treated to Bonnie Tyler as a church parking attendant

Finally, here’s what it might look like if Bon Jovi were a church volunteer 🙂

Orange 12: My GameChanging Story

(picture originally uploaded to Flickr by I, Timmy)

Reggie probably doesn’t remember this, but 10 years ago my wife and I had lunch with him at a conference put on by Kidz Blitz called Fresh Air. I was in my second year as a full time children’s pastor. That conference was the first time I heard Reggie share his passion for what it might look like to actively partner with parents. Reggie asked me tough questions about ministry, my church, and my calling. He challenged me to not settle for the easy answer or the status quo. That was a gamechanger for me. I remember going back to my room with my wife that night and bawling because his challenge awakened boxed up dreams and desires to help families become fully devoted to Christ and his Kingdom mission in this world. That moment shaped my approach to all that I’ve done. 

Ever since then, I’ve had the deepest respect for Reggie. Over the past 10 years I’ve seen him continually grow and learn and practice the advice he gave me: not to settle for the easy answer or the status quo.

At the opening session of Orange 12, Reggie did it again! He didn’t back away from what he knew needed to be shared. He challenged each of us to admit to the messiness of the Gospel and live in the tension of that mess. (I’ll blog more about that in another post.)

Thank you, Reggie, for unknowingly being a mentor and gamechanger from afar.

There’s one more day of the Orange Conference left. It’s my hope to gather some other Gamechanger stories from people here and share them with you.

Have you had a gamechanger moment in your life? What was it? How did it change you?

GIVEAWAY FOR BLOGGER WEEK FEBRUARY 4-8, 2013!!! I am giving away a free registration for Orange 13! (This is just for your ticket to Orange. You’ll have to still come up with a way to get there and you hotel stay.) You have three ways to enter:

  • Leave a comment with your gamechanging story;
  • Share this post on your Facebook wall (be sure to tag me so I know); or
  • Tweet about this post (be sure to include @henryjz in your tweet so I know)

All entries must be done by 11:59 p.m. (PST) on February 8, 2013. I will randomly choose a winner.

Check out the other Orange Blogger Week bloggers!

Getting My Blog On at Orange 12!!

In just a few short days, I’ll be boarding a jet plane heading for Atlanta! It’s Orange Conference time!

For the past few months, I’ve been pretty quiet here on the blog. With being a husband and dad, going to school and working part time at the church, I haven’t had time for any non-essential writing or projects. For three or so days beginning on April 25, though, I’ll be dusting off the WordPress dashboard and working the keyboard to blog about the Orange Conference. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m joining a group of other bloggers who’ll be sharing about our experiences at Orange. The other exciting thing is that I will be at Orange with the entire MPPC children’s ministry team as well as a couple of people from out Open Door Church campus in Mountain View. I can’t wait!

I’ve had the privilege to blog at different conferences and have blogged different ways. I’ve done live blogging, blogged my notes, interviewed people, etc. I’m taking a cue from my good friend (and fellow Orange blogger) Amy Dolan and putting this question to you. What would you like me to blog about while I’m at Orange? What would be the greatest blessing to you… especially those of you who aren’t able to be there? Leave a comment and let me know!

Where Are You Gonna Go?

I have found in many family ministry conversations I’ve been in, there is always this ideal of what a family should look like that gets touted out. Laments about the state of the family and the lack of parents taking their role as spiritual teacher immediately follow. Discussions like these always have ended up with someone elevating a certain family in his or her church to demagoguery status because that family is what all other families in the church should aspire to be.

In her book entitled The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap, Stephanie Coontz challenges the notion of an historical traditional family. “Myths that create unrealistic expectations about what families can or should do tend to erode solidarities and diminish confidence in the problem-solving abilities of those whose families ‘fall short.'” I can’t agree more! Even my confidence starts to wane when I compare my family to “perfect family,” and I’m supposed to be the professional with all the answers!

One huge reason I maintain respect for the ReThink Group and believe that Orange is a conference worth investing in is the belief by Reggie and the rest of the Orange crew that there is no such thing as an ideal family. Families come in all flavors and conditions. I remember watching Reggie speak a few years ago at the opening session of an Orange Conference. He held up a picture frame holding the picture of a “perfect” family and bluntly stated that no such families exist and never have. He, then, proceeded to show pictures of real families–families that don’t fit into our neat and tidy boxes entitled “traditional family.” He emphasized the need for a strategy that helps all of these families grow closer to God that includes both the home and the church.

Where are you gonna go? Where are you gonna go to be inspired to expand what it means to minister to all families? Where are you gonna go to connect with other ministry leaders who are trying to figure out this family ministry thing? Where are you gonna go to get what you need to put together a strategy for your church to reach families in your community?

I’m going to the Orange Conference. I’d love to meet you there. The conference is April 25-27.  If you register before February 16, you’ll save $40 on the registration.

Orange… Not Just a Conference

(picture originally uploaded to Flickr by ePublicist)

At the end of August, the entire Family Life ministry team at MPPC (children’s, middle school and high school ministries staffs) went on a retreat–together–to talk about our shared vision for reaching kids and families. Never in my 20+ years of being involved in ministry have I ever heard of something like this happening anywhere! It’s amazing how those few days together built respect and trust across all of our teams.

Why doesn’t stuff like this happen more often? I’m sure there are varied legitimate answers to that question. I’d like to propose one reason for the chasm between the children’s ministry and student ministry worlds: each ministry acts as an island unto itself. As ministry to kids and families became more specialized with the dawn of youth and children’s ministries, church staffs began to build their ministries around their specific age demographic. They began to created their own languages, customs and values. In some churches this siloing of student and children’s ministries has even created animosity between the two.

I bet, by now, you’re wondering how this is ever going to be a post about Orange… Well, it’s this culture that Orange is trying to dismantle and redefine. Of all the conferences out there, the one thing that makes Orange stand out among the rest is the value of synchronized vision and strategy of ministry from birth through high school and beyond. Orange is the one conference where leaders from children’s ministry and youth ministry can come to learn a common language and come together to partner with families to help children develop a lifelong love and transformational relationship with God.

It’s not easy trying to forge a merger between children’s and student ministries. The momentum of ministry to families that you create, though, when it happens is well worth the effort. If you are truly serious about ministering to the families at your church and in your community and you realize the value of a common vision and strategy that spans birth through high school, then Orange is a great place to start that journey. Orange is also a great place to meet other churches on the same journey.

Registration started on September 22. Take advantage of the early bird registration. Don’t just come as a children’s ministry or as a student ministry. Come together and form a new culture of family ministry and your church.

Do We Really Need Another Kidmin Conference?

It seems like I see more and more conferences pop up all the time. It’s not that I’m against conferences, but, really… do we need another one? It’s not like there is anything new or revolutionary being said at them. More and more, I find myself going to conferences to make connections and expand my network… which according to Seth Godin is a good thing (and, hey, if Seth Godin said it, then who am I to argue?). It would be nice, though to gather together with others in kidmin to discuss and explore new frontiers in children’s ministry. I may have watched too many episodes of Star Trek as a kid (The Next Generation is, by far, the best of the series!), but I have to believe that there are places in children’s ministry we can “boldly go where no one has gone before!”

A few months ago, my good friend Amy Dolan, told me about this guy, David Csinos, who was putting together a conference in 2012 that would explore the implications of emerging and missional thought in the church on children’s and youth ministry. I can’t tell you how excited I was. If you’ve followed Elemental CM for a while, you know that I am passionate about finding a missional approach to children’s ministry… something that goes beyond the educational/informational paradigm that has dominated children’s ministry for the past century. I’ve also found it disturbing that much has been done in the adult arena to address the seismic shifts happening in how we do church, yet very little has been done to effectively change how children’s ministry is done at those churches in the emerging and missional church worlds!

That brings me to my excitement about a new conference coming to Washington, D.C. May 7-10, 2012! Check this out from the official site for the conference:

“Something is happening in the church. A new kind of Christianity is taking root and growing across the globe. New forms of ministry, worship, and community are emerging. Questions are being asked. And change is happening.

But amidst these changes and shifts, children and youth are being left behind. Innovative approaches to ministry with adults are emerging around the world, but little critical reflection and attention has been given to how to nurture young people within a new kind of Christianity.

In May of 2012, leaders, ministers, volunteers, parents, and students will gather in Washington, DC, USA to spark conversations about youth and children within a new kind of Christianity. They will talk about innovative practices, critical issues, and controversial topics like violence, racism, interfaith dialogue, and sexuality. They will emark on a journey together to engage in life-giving ministry with young people. And they will blaze a new trail for the 21st-century church.”

Also take a look at this video from Brian McLaren about CYNC:

Check out the official CYNC site to keep up-to-date with what’s going on with the conference as well as ways to get involved and register! Also, be sure to check out and subscribe to David Csinos’ blog and follow him on Twitter. (He’s a pretty cool kidmin guy!) Lastly, if you haven’t already checked it out, be sure to pick up David’s new book, Children’s Ministry That Fits. This book should become required reading for everyone in children’s ministry or anyone who has an interest in helping children connect with God. If you can’t afford the book, do like I did and ask your public library to buy a copy 🙂