I started using XP3 because I was lazy. How could I argue against instantly having access to prepared lessons, small group questions, and ideas on creating a great environment? The grunt work was already done; XP3 Students just made sense.
All was going well – in theory – until I started my very first series.
I decided to kick off XP3 with the “WE” series because I was the new youth minister at my church and wanted to focus on community. I sent the small-group questions to my leaders and printed off the message that was provided. I was ready to roll, right? Nope – the night was a total disaster. I preached the scripts almost word for word and by the end of the night felt XP3 would probably hinder my ministry as opposed to enhance it.
Now let me be clear: it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what I was doing wrong. But I really believed that in order to be truly Orange I had to implement everything XP3 provided . I struggled through the next 2 lessons and really doubted the investment I had just made. So I began talking to some veteran XP3 partners and asked them how they utilized it and how it worked for their ministries.
Over the course of multiple conversations with other XP3 partners, I learned that XP3 is more like an idea board with interchangeable parts that I can tweak and maneuver to best fit my ministry style and context. Now when I write my lessons I utilize the outline and fill in my own research and application that is relevant to my students.
One unique thing that I’ve done to “tweak” XP3 to match my ministry style is to start using Twitter and “hashtagging” our current teaching series. The “Godview” series was an amazing example of my students using Twitter as a way of engaging God throughout the week. It has been a few months since that series and I still see #godview coming up on my Twitter feed.
The icing on the cake has always been the Parent Cue. The Parent Cue is what drew me into the Orange philosophy in the first place. After writing a lesson, counseling students, and cleaning the senior minister’s car, the last thing on my mind is connecting with the parents. XP3 has given me the steps and tools to engage parents with what we are teaching their students. I know the idea of engaging parents seems so elementary, but when I am caught up in the daily youth ministry grind it is so hard to step back and evaluate what I am doing and how effective I am with parents.
At the end of the day, XP3 is so much more than a lazy youth pastor’s dream– it is a tool that God uses to draw students closer to His heart and send them out to show the world what that heart truly looks like. As my best bud Jimmy says, “our prayer is to become more like John the Baptist when he said, ‘He must become greater and I must become less.’” I pray that would be the heartbeat of all of our ministries.
My name is Sean Wilson and I am the Youth Pastor at Northview Christian Church in Danville, IN. I have only been serving at this church for 6 months and have been a XP3 user for 4 months. I am married to the amazing Sheyenne and we are coming up on our 8th anniversary, which is the Xbox year I believe. We have an amazing daughter named Gianna who is under 1 year old.
What are some success and failure stories as an XP3 user?
Do you have other XP3 users you can rely on when figuring out how to best utilize XP3? Do you know how to find other “Orange” youth workers?