The Orange team met Heath Krueger at Chick-Fil-A during the Charlotte Orange Tour.  Heath has  been in student ministry for over 15 years. Heath wrote on his blog (http://heathkrueger.com/) what he learned at Orange Tour– Charlotte.

Check out some of the many things Heath learned:

(1)  An Orange leader is someone who influences parents and leaders to build faith into the next generation.  Design a strategy that combines the family with the faith community to demonstrate the message of God’s story, in order to influence the next generation.  Our strategy is different than our mission. Our success as church is not determined by our mission but our strategy. Strategy asks “What do we want them to become?” and “How do we craft an environment where students can get to that end?” Strategy is a plan of action with an end in mind. What are the relationships to develop? Will the church walk away from church knowing how to be the church?

(2)  It doesn’t take a leader to kill something that’s dead. It takes a leader to kill something that’s living. A strategy gives you reason to say NO to people because you have a plan, enabling you to be proactive not reactive.  What’s the most important commandment? Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all soul and with all your strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.” The second one got the Pharisees where it hurt as opposed to the first one.Jesus wanted them and He wants us to see God and see others correctly.

(3)  We turn three dials—wonder, discovery, and passion. First, how do students see God? Wonder: we are instinctively drawn to what is supernatural, miraculous, or spiritual. We turn the wonder dial down subconsciously. Do we incite Wonder? Do they know that the God of the universe created them and that they are made on purpose for a purpose? Do they know their Identity, that they are created in His image and that God is involved in the process to restore that image? Connection-do students know that He desires to have a relationship with them? We emphasize different things at different ages. During the preschool years we turn up the wonder dial, that God loves them unconditionally. Do kids think God is their enemy?

(4)  How do students see themselves? Discovery: we are instinctively drawn to understand our own uniqueness and role in a bigger story. We are wired to want to know who we are, which is why it is important how we process their questions and the space we give them to wonder. May we provoke discovery and be comfortable with how kids wrestle with doubt. May we avoid pat answers to uncomfortable questions. Our job is to lead students to a place where they can own their faith. May we allow students to process their own doubt. After all, we don’t need great faith in God but faith in a great God! Churches lose people because there is no room to doubt, so we have to be ok with a generation who has honest doubts and questions. It’s about transformation.Despite baggage and sin, God can restore and conform us to His image. God’s responsibility is to change people, it’s not ours! We changed didn’t we? In Charlotte, there is a middle school pastor who used to be a middle schooler! So relax! Its not up to us! Take what is timeless and bring it to bear on the moment. May we understand the big picture and give kids context so they get the bigger story. Or truth will not make sense!

(5)  How do students see others? Passion: we are instinctively drawn to connect relationally and to rescue those who are hurting or broken. Are we turning this passion dial up or down? The question should be not “How many kids are coming to youth group?” but “How many kids are doing ministry?” This sets up students to stand firm in their faith. How do we make sure we keep turning these dials over and over? May we encourage students to tap into the image of God and give them something significant to do. May we give them a better story to live than what is handed to them daily. May we look for ways to fuel their passion. May we invite students into community and speak the truth in love thru relationships. May we put consistent leaders and adults into their lives so they can walk with them. Seniors graduate—but they are not on their own. Rather they own their faith. When Jesus said ‘Love your neighbor’, it flipped everything upside down and redefined the term ‘neighbor’. So may we intentionally invite different people from different backgrounds to meet our kids. When we turn up the compassion dial, we are inviting kids into a better story!

Life is a story and a picture. Often life doesn’t turn out the way we expect or hope and we hold broken pieces of the picture in our hands. We extend hope to others by inviting people into God’s story of redemption and say, “It’s ok to be broken! We all have a messed up beautiful story!”

(6)  When we communicate with students, may we remember that saying less is saying more—so that everyone will know what really matters. How do we want kids to finish this sentence when they are 60 years old: “One thing I remember from youth group is…”So what do we say ‘now’ that will influence what they will say ‘then’? Because all Scripture is not equally important, may we prioritize what we say to kids. May we consider what Jesus didn’t say. After all, we are in the business of shaping worldviews. So what are the big rocks? Discovery, faith, transformation, truth, passion, community, compassion. May we be relevant in HOW we say it, because it’s presentation not information that captures imagination. May we communicate timeless truths in a relevant way, connecting it to the matter at hand. May we use what is cultural to communicate what is timeless. This is relevance. God became relevant in Jesus…

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