By Todd Newsom
I was first exposed to XP3 in the summer of 2008 at BigStuf Daytona. It was our first time to attend, and I had just drank from the proverbial “fire hose” at the leader’s training session conducted by Reggie Joiner. I was so blown away by the new ideas I was beginning to process that when he mentioned the free XP3 sampler CD, I immediately ripped it to my hard drive and synced it to my iPod. That very afternoon I was lying on the beach listening to Reggie, Jared Herd and Sarah Bragg unpack the XP3 strategy and describe the concept of the curriculum.
The next several months were full of successes and mistakes, well thought out plans and hasty decisions, as I painstakingly ironed out the kinks and attempted to effectively adapt the XP3 strategy, as I understood it, to the context of our church family.
We tried XP3 every way you can imagine. We were initially concerned about making too many changes too quickly, so we sampled bits and pieces of the curriculum. Our initial plan was to insert XP3 into what we were already doing. We tried the large group resources with no small groups, small groups with no large group session… It just wasn’t working for us, until I finally wrapped my brain around this concept:
XP3 is not just a curriculum—it’s a strategy.
The material is great, but when used outside of the context of the strategy it was intended to support, there’s no way that it can be as effective as it was designed to be. We decided that instead of inserting a curriculum into our existing format, we should adjust our format to accommodate a more effective strategy.
Currently we use XP3 at our Wednesday night Student Ministry gathering. We meet for an hour. The first half-hour is our large group where we kick off with a time of worship, followed by a 15-minute message. The second half-hour we meet in small groups to process the message shared by the communicator.
All of this is about 10% of the strategy. The other 90% revolves around partnering with parents and leading volunteers.
I commit to our parents that we will put at least 2 adult leaders in the lives of their children who will walk alongside those parents and say the same things a good parent would say. This means I have to recruit, equip and empower a team of small group leaders who understand the vision of what we are trying to accomplish and the strategy we are using to accomplish it. This is an ongoing process, because it can take months for a volunteer to have that “Aha!” moment when they finally “get it.”
We also make it a priority to connect everything we are teaching back to the parents. Before every series, our parents receive an email from me about what to expect over the next few weeks. Every Thursday, our parents are contacted by their child’s small group leader with a recap of what happened the night before and a couple of questions or thoughts they can use to continue the conversation at home.
We have also committed to produce a Family Experience twice a year to get parents, teenagers and small group leaders in the same room to share experiences, encourage one another and celebrate families of all shapes and sizes.
Do we finally have it all together now? Of course not. We continue to ride the roller coaster of success and failure. But the difference is this… before XP3, we wandered, almost blindly, reacting and responding to each issue and crisis as it occurred. Now we have an end in mind, a desired outcome and a proactive plan to get us there.
Todd and his fantabulous wife Amy live in Millbrook, AL with their two adorable children- Micah (4) & Chase (2) and their “evil god-daughter” Brandi (17). Todd is a Marine Corps veteran of the first Gulf War and teaches after school martial arts classes for kids & teens. Todd has been in full time student ministry since June of 1996. He serves at Hunter HIlls Church in Prattville, AL where he has been for the past 7 years.