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Maps

Bags packed, Itinerary Compiled, Passport in hand, ready to board the plane to Atlanta!

Bags packed, Itinerary Compiled, Passport in hand, ready to board the plane to Atlanta!

 

When I accepted the position of Children’s Director a couple of years ago, one of my leaders reminded me that taking on this role would mean I would become less invested in my current role as Youth Pastor. Still, I accepted the additional role. I expressed to that leader that I would be okay with that because what I really wanted to do as Children’s Director, was to begin investing into a new culture of Children’s Ministry where we would develop habits to set kids up to be more easily integrated into youth group, and thus into the future church. I wanted to become more invested in their overall spiritual growth from cradle to college and beyond.

As I looked at the opportunity for structural growth in our Children’s Ministry, I made a conscious choice to adopt the Orange Strategy. I had heard about the Orange Strategy years before I had even taken on the Children’s Director role, but knew right away that it was where I felt we should be heading. What is the Orange Strategy, you ask? It is simply the impact of successfully combining the Light of the Church (represented by the color yellow) and the Love of the Family (represented by the color red) to work together and show a generation who God is, thus creating a new color—ORANGE. I tell ya what . . . here’s a visual of what that looks like . . .

As our Children’s Ministry Crew and parents have made the shift to the Orange Strategy elements we’ve implemented, we’ve seen quality growth not just in numbers of kids, but in their excitement to show up and participate in church, their desire to become leaders in Kid’s Church/Youth Group, and their efforts to hide the Word of God in their hearts. I was talking to one of our parents yesterday morning and he said,

“When I picked my son up from Westside Kids on our first visit here, he asked me, ‘Dad, can we come back tomorrow!?! Since being plugged in here, I’ve noticed that He has more faith than I think I do at times. He gets excited about scripture memory and really holds on to the verses we memorize at home together.'”

That, along with similar feedback from other families, reassures me that we are heading in a great direction. Since adopting the Orange Strategy, our volunteers and workers have become more involved and invested in the lives of the kids we see each week and it shows in all of their testimonies of what God is doing in their classes. By no means am I saying that Westside Kids is a perfect ministry free of shortcomings and hurdles, but I am saying that we are now working more as a team to strategize how we can best serve and minister to the kids that God has entrusted to our ministry. Our team is committed to the journey and is able to trust the process more and more as we continue to bond together. While we still have a way to go, I have no doubts that we are on the right track.

SO stoked I get to spend the day at Orange Tour w/ the Westside Church staff & Heather Jolly, working to build a better Kids/Student Ministry!

Last year, I was blessed with an amazing opportunity to attend the one-day Orange Tour in Seattle, hosted by the folks that run the Orange Conference and the masterminds behind the Orange Strategy. I learned a LOT of great material to implement and walked away feeling equipped for even more forward motion in Children’s and Youth Ministry. In fact, I gleaned so much from the experience that I knew I should make it a priority to attend the actual Orange Conference in Atlanta. I was so passionate about that pursuit that at the end of the Orange Tour, I purchased (out of my own pocket) my ticket to attend the Orange Conference. After that, I brainstormed and worked with my Pastor to create a game plan for me to be able to actually attend it. Thankfully, I was able to cut costs by arranging lodging with my best friend Joy. After hammering out a few more details, the game plan was able to work out (including being able to take off time at my other job to travel this week to Atlanta for the conference). It feels like a dream come true knowing that I will get to spend a week gleaning wisdom, inspiration, and guidance from some of the greatest minds surrounding Children’s and Youth ministry. To say I’m bursting with excitement would be an understatement! Here’s a sneak peak of what I’ll be experiencing at the conference this week:

I am flying to Atlanta today and then tomorrow I will have a day off to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner with different friends of mine that live in Atlanta. Then on Wednesday, I start with the Pre-Conference Workshops. The Pre-Conference Sessions I chose are:

  • YOU LEAD KIDS:  [With Mike ClearCome network and learn from others who do what you do every week. Discover the five critical areas you need to grow and develop as a leader. Practically assess where you are now, in each of these areas, and begin to create your own long-term development plan.
  • BUILDING A HEALTHY VOLUNTEER CULTURE:  [With Chad WardIn this breakout we will discuss ways to recruit children’s volunteers in such a way that you create something they will love . . . almost as much as you do.
  • STARTING A CHURCH FOR UNCHURCHED FAMILIES:  [With Carey NieuwhofHow do you create a ministry to effectively reach the families in your community? In this breakout, we’ll look at 12 characteristics of today’s unchurched families and discuss what these characteristics mean for your ministry.
  • SAFETY SYSTEMS:  [With Jim WidemanSafety is essential for ministry. In this breakout, we will talk about practical ways to develop and implement policies and procedures for your ministry, how to evaluate the ones you already have, and how best to communicate ministry expectations regarding your safety plan to volunteers and families.

 

Ready to cover some ground in networking with fellow ministers and workers at #OC14.

Ready to cover some ground in networking with fellow ministers and workers at #OC14.

At the conference, I’ll have the chance to network with leaders and speakers across the nation. One that I’m already particularly looking forward to meeting is Megan Stewart, who is the Preteen Coordinator at First Presbyterian Church in Spokane, where my bestie Cindy J. and her family attend. Not only will it be refreshing to connect with others in my same vein of ministry, but we actually share a lot of the same interests and personality traits. Along with those connections, I’ll get to hear from incredible speakers and artists who work to help us make Children’s Ministry “the Best Hour of Every Kid’s Week.” Those speakers include Doug Fields, Perry Noble, Sue Miller, Derwin Gray, Reggie Joiner, Heather Zempel, Andy Stanley, Mark Batterson, Jon Acuff, and more! During the main portion of the conference, I’ll also be attending some breakout sessions I hand-picked to help us grow in some specific areas that I see our ministry moving forward in:

  • STRATEGIES TO INCLUDE EVERY CHILD (including those with special needs):  [With Amy Fenton Lee] Join us as we discuss new ideas as well as tried and true strategies to help volunteers present Bible stories and engage every student, including kids with ADHD, autism, sensory needs, and other learning differences.
  • DESIGNING A FAMILY EXPERIENCE TO CAPTURE THE IMAGINATION OF YOUR COMMUNITY: [With Mike Clear] Some people like mediocre. But you’re not some people. You want families in your community to experience something that will capture their imagination and change the trajectory of their week. You want them to be drawn to each other and to be excited by relevant biblical principles. In this breakout, we will explore ways you can make that happen when you decide to do an FX
  • LEADING TEEN VOLUNTEERS: [With Meaghan WallWith intentional recruitment and well-planned training, teens can fulfill many volunteer needs for a ministry. In this breakout, we’ll show you how to create an environment that fosters experiential life-change for contributing students while raising up future ministry leaders.
  • SPECIAL NEEDS MINISTRY TOP 10: [With Amy Fenton Lee] In this breakout, she will share 10 current issues a church can anticipate facing as they welcome kids with special needs. Join Amy as she prepares you to meet these new challenges well.

 

With a natural bent toward learning/research, I’m very much anticipating all of the knowledge I will gain to help propel us steadily and sustainably toward a better, brighter, and bolder approach of healthy discipleship for the children at Westside from cradle to college. I’m also looking forward to coming back home with more practical tools to equip our team to uncover their sweet spots in life and ministry as they continue to invest in the future of the Church!

 

I'll also be sure to keep you all updated with pictures on my Instagram (hashtagged with #OC14). In the meantime, I'll be getting some good reading done on the flights ahead! F

I’ll also be sure to keep you all updated with pictures on my Instagram (hashtagged with #AMOC14). In the meantime, I’ll be getting some good reading done on the flights ahead!

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I Know You Care

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One of our Westside Kids ministry workers told me a story about a kid in her Pre-K Class. During part of the lesson, the teachers were to ask the kids, “Who is the strongest person you know?” As she asked, one of the little boys said, “Jesus is! You told us that two weeks ago!” It was exciting to hear how the kids in our church are remembering the things they are being taught week after week. I’m consistently inspired by the efforts of our Kid’s Ministry workers, who don’t always get a chance to see the progress week after week. We realize that in kids’ and teen ministry, that you may not get to see the fruit of your labor until these children become college students and professional young people with families, holding a solid foundation in their faith and instilling those Christian values into their own family life.

 

 

Similarly, I was reminded this past week of how we hang on to the things we are taught far beyond the day that they were taught to us. While I was working at GTAustin in Texas, my pastors and mentors consistently  emphasized the importance of “becoming a regular” in local businesses. Our Master’s Commission Director (whom I served under) would always study at the same coffee shop (Genuine Joe) and get to know the baristas that worked there. We also held our Off-Site staff meetings in that same coffee shop. They knew who we were and where we worked and it was up to us to share the practical side of Christ’s love with them. Even when I go home to visit, I always make it a point to stop in for coffee at Genuine Joe. Through the years, that practice has stuck with me and I’ve established the same connections here in Seattle. As I’ve adopted this concept, it hasn’t really been about the coffee as much as it has been the building of relationships. . . . I’ll admit, it does help that I LOVE coffee. 😉

 

 

In my own neighborhood, I frequent 2 coffee shops: The Jewel Box Cafe (which I call Hogwarts) and Cloud City Coffee. When I’m working at the job downtown, I either stop by Metropolitan Market or Caffe Ladro. I’ve taken time to get to know these baristas and they have taken efforts to remember my name and my drink/food order. They notice when I’m not around and when I do show up again, we play catch-up. It’s been really fun to find a local coffee shop “where everybody knows your name.”

 

Caffe Ladro Uptown | Queen Anne, Seattle, WA

Caffe Ladro Uptown | Queen Anne, Seattle, WA

 

Every Sunday morning and afternoon, I get coffee from Robertino’s, a coffee shop just a couple of blocks away from Westside Church. I know the baristas and they know me. They know what I do, where I work, and also notice when I don’t stop by. Often, some of the 2Twelve youth students will stick around with me after morning church services and we will hang out together until youth group in the evening. When it was still in business, our routine was to eat lunch at Great Harvest Bread Co. (we miss it dearly), then grab coffee at Starbucks, and finally head back to the church to get things set up for the youth service. Since Robertino’s closes at 5p, we would always head there at 4:30 to grab some pre-service drinks and treats. The baristas have always been warm, friendly, and attentive while we placed our large and often times confusing order. Then we’d head back to the church and get on with our evening. Over the past month, our youth schedule has been off-and-on due to holidays and special events, so I haven’t been able to bring them in with me as much.

 

Robertino's near Westside Church

Robertino’s near Westside Church

 

It’s been sweet to have the baristas at Robertino’s ask me how the 2Twelve students are doing and how our youth group is going. I even got a chance to meet a new barista the other day and invited her to join us for a service at Westside. She appreciated the offer, but told me she attends another church in the area. However, that didn’t stop us from talking about our faith and I even found out that just like me, she has “faith roots” in The Assemblies of God. It was cool to share some quality time with her and begin to build that relationship. On Saturday, as I was preparing the Easter Baskets for our Westside Kids Crew Leaders, I felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to make an Easter Basket for the baristas at Robertino’s. I tried to drop it off on Sunday, but they were closed, so I decided to drop it off yesterday and the barista was so excited to enjoy and share the treats with her co-workers. She then asked me how our Easter service went and what I was up to at work that day. We chatted for a bit about before the next customer walked in and went on with our day.

 

Happy Easter to Robertino's!

Happy Easter to Robertino’s!

 

I treasure those special connections and I’m looking forward to even more when I move to Green Lake! What about you, do you have any “regular” spots that make you feel like you walked into an episode of Cheers? If not, I really encourage you to do that—the power of intentional connection in community is a gift that keeps on giving!

 

★ Breakfast of Champions ★


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When I’m With You

Hoppy Easter, y’all!

 

Whew! What a rip-roaring fun weekend this has been! I don’t have much mental power or time to really expound on all that went down, so I will let the pictures and videos do some of the talking. Here are some written highlights, though:

  • Taking care of Ben and Ryan while their parents were away for the weekend. These boys are awesome and so much fun to hang out with! I talked them into watching 2 episodes of CSI:NY with me and we also cracked up watching Zoolander together! 
  • I went Ice Skating with the 2Twelve crew! The last time I went ice skating was in Junior High, so the fact that I was able to actually skate “off-the-wall” was FAN-FREAKIN-TASTIC!
  • Our Easter morning service at Westside Kids was wonderful and hectic and awesome and exhausting—everything a special service should be 😉 
  • Ben & Ryan’s folks returned on Sunday afternoon, and after church, I got to spend family time with them catching up and watching HACHIE (I HIGHLY recommend you watch it!!!—tears galore!) and then I made them a yummy Easter dinner so that they could unpack and unwind without any extra responsibilities. It was my first time making Easter dinner (smoked ham, garlic roasted brussels sprouts, and mashed sweet potatoes) and it was a HIT! 

And now for the pics and videos! 

 

Deep down inside, I know the Miller boys are *really* excited to have me taking care of them this weekend!

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This was so fun that I couldn’t NOT post it!

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Pre-Chill at Menchie’s before the Big Chill on the ice at our Sk8 D8!

2Twelve Sk8 D8

Shenanigans On Ice

Enjoying a rad SK8 D8 with the 2Twelve Crew!!!

 

 

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Even though they’re in High School, those boys totally deserved an Easter Basket . . . you’re never too old, right?? 😉

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E. Stubbs crafting the Easter snack—Dough Bunnies

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Even with all of the rushed craft prep, E.Stubbs still managed to spell out her love for me in jelly beans 😉

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Me and my widdle wabbit fwiend at Westside Kids!