Each year, Orange, the organization that produces our fantastic and engaging kids curriculum, holds an amazing conference in Atlanta, Georgia. This year, the Orange Conference looked a little (a lot) different: instead of being surrounded by 10,000 church leaders in a huge arena as I take copious notes – I was next to Luke and Jacob at our dining room table, juggling virtual school, but still taking copious notes. I’m delighted to share a few with you:
Almost everything has changed, but God hasn’t.
We have experienced tremendous upheaval in our personal lives and in the way we do ministry due to Covid-19. But while change is inevitable, some things never change: faith, hope, and love (1 Corinthians 13).
You have probably heard me say or have read on the Park Kids page that we want every child to have an authentic faith, which means they trust Jesus in a way that transforms how they love God, how they love themselves, and how they love others. Much of the conference talked about how this generation approaches faith differently, and therefore, we need to change the way we approach them. We need to pivot the way we, both as parents at home and as the church, talk about faith and Jesus. “We need to change our approach for a generation that’s changed their minds about who God is.” (Andy Stanley) We need to invite them into a dynamic faith that can stand up to their questions and that shows them what hope and love look like, illustrated and applied.
Behind many of the speakers was a poster that read, “Hope convinces us to imagine a better world.” In this season where so many of us, myself included, are yearning to get back – back to normal, back into our routine, back into church – I was reminded speaker after speaker that going back is not only NOT an option, it shouldn’t be an option. We should press forward and take what we have learned during this time, about doing ministry, about friendship, about ourselves, and we should use it to forge a better future. There is hope in this season, and it is not the hope that we will get back to normal, it is the hope that what is next will be even better. It is the hope made possible when we choose to use the hardships, struggles, and desperate measures we’ve walked through and uncovered during this time to reach people differently, to build relationships differently, to share the gospel differently.
Love is God’s ‘why’ and love is our ‘why’ – as ministry leaders, as parents, as people who care about God’s kingdom. And remembering the ‘why’ equips us to “endure unbelievable hardship” (Kristin Ivy) and “gives us a lens to evaluate what we do” (Reggie Joiner) so that we can do more than ‘get people to church’. We can get them to change their mind about Jesus.
Because when people experience Jesus, when people experience love, it can start a revolution.
And when it is a revolution of love, the world can change, hope can penetrate, and the better world we imagine can actually begin.
Leaving Orange Conference I am more excited than ever to work alongside you to bring Jesus to this generation. Change may be the new normal but some things never change: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love…
Park Kids Coordinator