A Nearness

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Our proximity to people helps us to see the struggles they go through and the hurts they carry. Working with youth for a number of years has allowed me to walk with them through a world of hurt, questions and frustrations. Many times they don’t have answers or the words to explain what they are going through and feeling. Part of being a Misfit is to step into the gap for the hurting, to draw closer in to another person in a bad spot,  to create empathy and simply show up for someone else.

This takes time. There is an ebb and flow to dealing with people who have seen trauma and experienced deep hurts. There are relapses and backward steps. There are good days and bad days. Yet, our consistent presence in the lives of others, simply showing up for someone we care about, helps.

In the midst of the relapses and backwards steps you are going to want to give up. You will want to give up on yourself or the people you are walking alongside. It is important to give yourself and one another grace. To celebrate the smallest victories and find encouragement in the moments of defeat. We are called to help, aide and point people back to Jesus, back to sanity, and not hold another grudge when we feel slighted. 

Be energized to go into the fray once more. You are meant to be near the hurting, marginalized and the those trying to find their way. You are a Misfit.

Misfits

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Jesus is a Misfit. He took the expectations of religion and society and turned them upside down. He spent time with the least of these. The sick, the marginalized, the oppressed, the prostitutes, the widows and the orphans. He took, and continues to take, a bunch of ragamuffins and turns them into world-shakers. He breathes life into dead things. Jesus continually challenged the status quo of our society and engaged people where they were. Jesus met sinful people, in the midst of their sin, and showed up for them. He never asked for them to clean up first, to get it right first, and only then He would help. He rubbed shoulders with those society had forgotten and demonstrated genuine, authentic, love. Jesus challenged how we viewed God and how our beliefs shape us. He challenges us still.

How are we engaging the forgotten, the downtrodden and the lost in our lives? Do we interact only with people so that we could gain something? How does your proximity to people demonstrate authentic love and care? Do you stand for justice and seek to find solutions to the problems in our world? How is your life pointing others to Jesus?

A Misfit looks at the world differently. We stand boldly in our faith in Jesus to evaluate the world around us. We step in relationally to meet people where they are, in the midst of their hurts and struggles, to give support, pray and sometimes to just sit in silence. We are not afraid to challenge the way things have always been done in the hopes of something better. To be a Misfit is to step into the challenges that our world faces and point it all to Jesus.

Through this endeavor we hope to lead leaders, generate empathy, teach influencers and participate in engaging the lost, forgotten, hurting, oppressed and the outsiders. Let us be challenged to be more like Jesus; to meet people where they are, to grow relationally, to empathize with one another and influence the world.

Join us on Instagram and Twitter at Misfit_Min to learn with us and engage the world together.

Faithful with Few

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I’m helping my current church launch small groups in their student ministry. I learned a lot about small groups when I was a student pastor and love the relationships that small groups foster. I’ve even helped launch a small group model in the current school I teach at. Launching small groups can be tough. There are leaders to find, sign ups to happen, contacts to be made. Transitioning a student ministry from a program emphasis to a small group/relational emphasis is tough. It changes the goals, the wins, and the measures for your ministry. Yet, it is completely worth it.

One of the small group leaders (SGL) had ten girls originally signed up for her group. For her groups launch four showed up. I celebrated, people wondered why I was so excited. I explained how four girls connecting to a leader in an intimate setting, growing relationally, is a HUGE deal. I told the story of how I had a group of two kids that over time grew to be a home group of over twenty consistently. I talked about celebrating those four girls and praying for them daily. That those four girls connecting with a leader and with each other helps to connect even more girls. We are laying the foundation for something great.

We can get caught up in the numbers. I’ve learned from a good friend that numbers are important, but they should not be sole factor in your ministry. Numbers help us to see trends in our ministry, help us to be strategic with plans and they help us to see where God is leading the ministry. Numbers are not relationships though. You could have a student ministry with hundreds of kids, but if community is not a central aspect of that ministry students may miss out on discovering and developing an authentic faith.

There is a vision of huge number of students connecting through small groups. Right now we are laying that foundation. We are connecting leaders to students. Even if it is a few, we party.

Rough

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Some kids are tougher to reach than others. My proximity to kids helps me to realize some of the severe trauma that some may experience. Dropping kids off at their homes that have no furniture, no electricity, and no food you begin to realize the lives they live after 4pm. You may be the only consistent person in their life, they may not know how to respond and act around you, they may fear abandonment and have seen so much loss they don’t even want to try.

The toughest kids are the most rewarding kids when you give them love over time consistently, show up for them and speak life into them.

Dealing with kids that have dealt with extreme trauma in their lives is tough. They can be more argumentative, angry, defiant and lack the desire for social connections. Don’t take it personally. You did not cause their trauma, and you are not the sole person reasonably to fix it. It takes time and will be rough at times. Things will be said and done that seem like a personal attack. Sometimes, students who have faced trauma ‘test’ your willingness to stick around. Show up. Some great advice I received once was to “let all the badness roll off you like water off a ducks back.” Remember to not take the rough moments personally.

Despite the frustrations you get from dealing with students who have faced trauma in their lives, you are called to love them anyway. Know them, ask them questions, treat them fairly, be clear with expectations of behavior and be fair. Invite them to have lunch with you. Treat them as they are, kids. Build a relationship that is founded on trust, respect and consistency. You may be the first time they have seen this type of relationship.

You will get tired. Tired of the struggle and tired of the slow process in building relationships. Keep at it. It is worth it, they are worth it. These students will come around, it may take longer, but they will open up. When they do listen to their stories, help them to see that their stories do not define them and speak life into them. Help them discover their passions and strengths in life.

#OC17

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I believe in students. I love to see them grow, learn and be awesome. I love to cheer the students that I lead on throughout their lives. Sometimes, working with students is difficult. They have drama, struggles and hurts just like the rest of us. Yet, the time I can spend with students is time I know I am impacting the world.

Orange believes this too. Orange believes in students, in all kids really, and their families. They believe that for kids, no matter their age, to understand God they need to be connected relationally to other people. That these leaders need to engage the kids they work with and their families to walk alongside them in life in order to grow their faith. Orange equips churches and leaders to help point kids and their families best towards Jesus.

This year Orange Conference is helping equip churches and leaders to reach not just their few, but entire neighborhoods and communities. At Orange Conference this year we are exploring the question: What would happen if the neighborhoods around our churches began to see church as a fun, safe, and helpful place for families and the community at large? There will be awesome speakers, a lot of laughs and insights into how the church make a lasting impact on the communities we belong to.

Join us this April for one of the most impactful experience you will have. This is not just for family ministers and lead pastors. This conference is people looking to leave a meaningful legacy in the lives of students, their families, the community and our world. Come be equipped, refreshed and rejuvenated to point your neighbors towards Jesus.

More information about great speakers, the theme “For Our Neighbors,” and all things Orange Conference head to their website at:

http://theorangeconference.com/

Registration opens up October 13th! You don’t want to miss out on this adventure!

 

Orange is Coming

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Orange Tour is underway and you have to get your tickets. Every year Orange takes the information, speakers and resources from the Orange Conference and brings them to you. It is a great time to learn, laugh, and create a dialogue around your ministry.

Last year, I had the chance to have Orange Tour come to the church I was the student minister at. The people on the tour are amazing. Even Reggie got into the hustle of the day as we set everything up. Orange leaders make themselves available for attendees to chat with, ask questions and better themselves. Not everyone is able to go to Orange Conference, that is why they bring the fun to you.

Monday is coming and Orange Tour is bringing it. Here you will discover the best ways to connect kids and their families to Jesus throughout the week, not just on Sunday. Monday is coming is a great idea to test your ministry against. How are students and their families acting on their faith throughout the week? How is your ministry helping them to do just that?

Through the speakers, workshops and conversations at Orange Tour you will be challenged. Challenged to re-evaluate your environments, your programs, and even your mission. We all want students and their families to live out their faith. To have an autonomous faith that can change the world. Monday is coming will challenge our current practices and provide practical steps to see success.

Check out Orange Tour this year. It will be a great way to invest in your leaders and your ministry. Create space to have conversations about your ministry with your leaders, students, parents and your lead pastors. Sometimes, for success to happen we change what our success looks like. Monday is Coming will help you connect Jesus to the everyday lives of people and to the moments that mean most to them.

For more information check out http://orangetour.org/. Can’t wait to see you there.

Be ready for Orange Conference 2017! Registration opens up on October 13th

 

Orange 2016

 

Orange 2016

 

The hope for all our ministries is that we will communicate the Gospel in a way that transforms people. That they will discover who Jesus is and that will change how they engage the world around them. What we do on Sunday morning though can quickly be forgotten. We have all seen people getting angry simply leaving the parking lot after service. Can we honestly say that the regular programming is having any impact if there is no change throughout the week? What if we engaged people on Sunday with Monday in mind. This is why I am pumped for Orange Conference 2016.

The theme for 2016 is “Monday is coming.” As leaders what if we communicated truth, evaluated our programs and shaped our interactions with students around this truth. The reality is the lives of our students, and their parents, can quickly crush the truths taught on Sunday. We have seen the struggle to get students to know the Bible, seen the fight with other activities in a student’s life and we’ve helped them navigate some of the junk that happens in their lives.

What if we began to shift how we do things. What if we are able to get connected with students throughout the week? Our ministry changes when we are not only connected but can bridge the gap between what we teach on a Sunday and the lives of our students throughout the week. What we communicate doesn’t change, but how we communicate it does to leverage the time that we have to make the most impact in the life of a student.

Here are some things I do to bridge the gap between Sunday and the rest of the week:

Weekly Home Groups:

Our student ministry revolves around our home groups. We meet weekly in the homes of our students. This helps us to get connected with students throughout the week. The coolest thing is that we as leaders are meeting students where they are; in their homes, on their turf, where they are comfortable in order to build lasting relationships and point them towards Jesus.

Contacting Kids:

One of my daily goals is to encourage a student. I go through my list of contacts and just shoot a simple text message. See how their day is going and strike up a conversation. Let them know you care about them. I reach out to take students out during the week and process life with them. I share my life with them and I encourage my leaders to do the same. When this happens students see a faith that is engaged not only in church on a Sunday but in the daily grind of Monday.

Equipping Parents:

Every week I send out a parents email. I utilize Orange resources and ideas to help equip parents. If we want to influence the lives of kids, we need to equip the key influences in their lives, their parents. From ways to navigate conversations about dating to links to resources, such as music, magazines or devotionals, equipping parents is a major way to impact students throughout the week.

Our ability to point students to Jesus greatly increases when we can stay connected with them throughout the week. I am excited for Orange Conference 2016 to hear about new ways to get connected with students. If you’re interested in attending this years conference head to http://theorangeconference.com/ to get more details and register!

 

 

 

 

Celebrate

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It is ok to celebrate. We need to celebrate. If we don’t celebrate the victories, no matter how small, we will be left with drudgery and frustrations. So, we celebrate.

Celebration should be a part of your life, your workplace culture, and a staple in how you do ministry. Find excuses to celebrate. Go out of your way to make something a big deal. When we are always forward thinking and forget to celebrate the ways God is coming through for you now you miss out. You miss out on a heart of thankfulness, on an opportunity to praise God and a chance to party like a rock star.

The Bible says that there is rejoicing in heaven over one sinner coming to know God. We must rejoice along with them. When a student gets baptized, when a student comes to know Jesus for the first time or when a kid for the first time comes to the end of themselves (Luke 15:17). Celebrate. Maybe it is not a huge party or a crazy thing. What if your celebration was a quiet prayer on the way home. What if it was a giant bear hug. Celebration can take many forms.

How you celebrate tells a lot of about your ministry and life. The ability to celebrate will instantly bring joy into the culture you are a part of.
Here’s some ways I like to celebrate:
Make a big deal of the big things (and some of the small things)
Laughing so hard you can’t stop
Make students feel special
Remember to enjoy the moment, and marinate in it
Don’t rush off to the next thing
What can you do this week to celebrate? Who can you celebrate with? What do you do in your ministry to make celebration important?

 

 

 

Snow Days

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Thirty-two inches of snow crushed the east coast this past weekend. The snow disrupted church, travel, work and all sorts of other plans. Yet, these weekends can be seen as a gift; a gift for yourself, your family, and your ministry. When these things happen during the winter months you can leverage these days off for much needed rest, revitalize relationships and have unique ministry experiences.

For three (maybe four) days I have been stuck in the house. The roads are too bad for my car to get me anywhere. There are a few ways you could be spending this time. I would definitely be catching up on some rest. Don’t set your alarms in the morning and enjoying those cozy mornings. Snuggle up with loved ones or with your favorite book. When you start to get cabin fever get productive. Get some work tasks done, reorganize your office, do some laundry or clean your room. It is also a great opportunity to find some time to pursue those crazy ideas you’ve been dreaming about and wishing for more time to think through them. Set some time aside to get creative and dream.

The snow days also provide a great opportunity to spend time with the people who are closest to you. Literally, they are probably stuck in the same house as you. Round everyone up and play some board games. Make meals together and catch up on some t.v shows together. If you have kids, go on an adventure. Build a snow fort or go sledding. These moments in life are a gift for us to reconnect with the people in our lives.

With a unique opportunity like snow days come some unique ways to leverage them. Go around and help people shovel, or better yet, invest in a snow blower for the sole purpose of helping others get cleared out. You can strike up conversations with neighbors and build impactful relationships in your neighborhood and community. Snow days are also a great way to engage students. Create a shoveling gang to walk the streets together, laughing and helping other people together. Take neighborhood kids sledding at some random hill. Bend some rules to get on that one hill that you aren’t supposed to be on and create an amazing memory.

These opportunities can extend to just snow days. There are moments when we get surprise time given to us. It is important to make the use of that time; resting, crushing the day and loving people around you.

Multi-site students

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Over the past decade the impact of multi-site churches has continued to expand. Churches have various models and organizational charts to make these multi-site churches work. Student ministry can be a difficult ministry to multiple across campuses. There are different models and roles within a student ministry at different churches that describe themselves as multi-site. Whatever the model, or how the ministry is organized, student ministry across campuses have a few required elements in order to be successful. They must carry with them a united vision, their DNA should be the same, their should regularly held meetings to start informed and help one another out, responsibilities should be divided together and there should be a mentality of one church in multiple locations.

There must unity, throughout the campuses, in the vision of the student ministry. Like a tree that may have different branches yet shares the same roots.  The values that drive the ministry, the model that is being used and yearly goals should be all tied together across campuses. When the positions, whether paid or voluntary, at multiple campuses are not united, conflict always will arise. There will be confusion on what to do and how to do it. Meeting regularly helps to create this unity. You build relationships with other people on staff but also can work together to build the ministry. You get to trouble shoot with one another about issues that are arising.

A big thing is to make sure to delegate responsibilities. Have the student representatives of each campus do something each week. Whether it is building curriculum, planning outreach events or summer trips. Divide up the tasks by grade level or by personal strengths. It isn’t fair for one person to do all the work and the others just to sit back and reap rewards from another persons planning and hard work. This can be tricky with people who are volunteers or part-time student positions. It may take some conversations that clarify expectations and responsbilities too. However, when all people are able to to see their work at hand, there is more ownership over the ministry and therefore more success.

The student ministry must think “one church, multiple locations.” This may be the easiest to say and the hardest to implement. One church in multiple locations includes the idea of a united vision and the delegation of work. It is no less, and yet much more than that. Pray together for one anothers campuses and the success stories there. Be open handed with leaders and students that may be easier and a better fit at another campus. Create events that are inclusive to everyone and find a way to make all students feel as one community, not separate ones. Let one another speak at events, lead games or worship. Work together to build up a generation of students.

Multi-site churches can be tricky to navigate in student ministry. No matter the model you are using it is helpful to be united, share responsibilities and think as a team. Those things allow for success across the board.