Because each phase of adolescence needs a strong, faithful, and equipped man or woman of God to lead, encourage, and challenge them through that phase.
Strong and effective leaders and ministers know this single truth that the difference between a good and great ministry is one single factor: the level of preparation for that leader. That's it! Good looks, charm, wit, personal knowledge, and abilities can only take a leader so far - sometimes very far - before that leader bumps against a wall... a wall comprised of her or himself.
I call this the mirror myth. This myth calls out the lie that the person on the other side of you can do all things, engage in all things, and lead all things without a support team of other people, as well as the constant and consistent work necessary to become better equipped at what you do.
At the risk of harkening too far back into my Baptist roots, I believe that the mirror myth is a lie straight from Satan himself. And many of us live by this rule of life that "I am an end to myself." I bought into this lie for the first 18 months of my ministry until I realized that the man in the mirror needed a whole host of support in order to stay in ministry and thrive!
Personally, I decided that I needed a network where I could engage with other like-minded individuals, find answers, learn the right questions to ask, and gain resources into how to better lead and minister the people for whom God provided me to care.
I sought high and low. I researched for a couple of years, and then, I finally found my pond. It's called Orange
I believe in what they do, why they do it, and how they go about it more so than any other organization. Partly because the organization built its core philosophy with a strategy, rather than a type or brand of church.
The Orange strategy can work anywhere. It supersedes an organization, context, and culture. It flows from a rich theology of application from Scripture. It built its foundation upon the teachings of Jesus and the Shema of Deuteronomy 6 - perhaps the clearest, most unbiased teaching on the family in all of Scripture.
I just returned from the Orange Conference a couple of weeks ago, and I wrote about the most important workshop that I attended. You can read about it here. I feel grateful that my church also agrees that I need a pond in which to swim, colleagues for support, and resources to use. They fund my trip every year, and for that, I feel so grateful.
Yet, I also realize that this conference is a HUGE commitment - both in time and money. Some ministers and leaders cannot afford this option... right now, at least.
Let me offer an alternative - one that I have used before - in fact, this was my very first introduction into Orange. It's called the Orange Tour, and it's coming to a city near you. It is very affordable - both in time and money - and offers the very best of Orange.
I want to highly, HIGHLY commend this conference to anyone at all who engages children and adolescents (ages birth through young adulthood). It is a MUST for so many reasons, but most important, for the colleagues and friendships you will gain, as well as the resources they offer.
You can learn all about it here. Make it a commitment. Get it on your calendar early. Bring your team. Go with a friend. Take $20 with you, and get a book. They will even provide a pen and paper for you!
If you live on the West Coast, then plan to visit me for lunch or coffee at Mariner's Church in Irvine on September 22.
You won't regret it!