Notes From The Digital Orange Conference

Along with the team from our church, I attended the 2020 Orange Conference. In an all-digital, participate in your home event, I was amazed at how well they designed it! Especially on such short notice, it was engaging, interactive, and effective. The spark of traveling with a team to another part of the country was missed, but the overall outcome was the best it could be under the circumstances.

Here are some notes and ideas I took down during the two and half day event.



Why are so obsessed with turning negatives into positives? We believe if people see our pain and weaknesses they won’t want to follow us.

Revolutions are born out of pain!

What’s at risk if we numb our pain is the revolution.

Lamenting: it’s a biblical word, but leaders aren’t good at it, generally speaking. We’re better at quoting something we just read in a book than sitting with someone in pain.

I don’t take time to feel the pain long enough. Sometimes as a leader, we have to sit in pain without a plan.

You have permission to grieve and lament. How we’re connecting has changed. But we can also find hope in this: Why we’re connecting has not!



What do we do when we don’t know what to do? Do the one thing we’re all wired to do…. ASK THE QUESTION WHY.

I usually don’t have time to ask why. I’m in a rhythm without time to reflect on WHY.

But now, in this season, I’m able to process this important question.

Why comes with risk. It can be a little bit scary. But WHY is the start of a revolution.

When you remember why, you’ll go into the unknown as you do the next right thing.

Take time to reflect on this: Why did you start doing what you’re doing? .

I can only die once.

Harriet Tubman



Most people aren’t looking for a community of faith, they are looking for a community. Once they find the community, they begin to catch on the faith. – Reggie Joiner #OC20

Identity crisis isn’t the church, but the individual. We have tied our lives to what we do and we’re realizing that right now.

Sunday. It’s a catalyst to a week, it’s a part of the rhythm. It’s also one of the best ways to experience community, which people need. We think churches should do the best they can on Sundays. Then all of a sudden Sunday stopped and we wonder what it looks like and what does it mean?

How do we leverage Sundays to help families disciple their kids during the week. The church has about 40 hours to influence kids. Families have 3000 hours to work with. Based on this, what happens at home is more important than what happens at church.

Most families in our country are Sunday-at-home people. Most churches are programmed to be Sunday-at-church churches. Then as this tension is growing we have this huge pandemic!

72% Americans say they won’t go back to church until there’s a vaccine. The crisis is an amazing wake up call as it relates to Sunday. It forced us to expand our mindset – to think about reaching the family in the home.

Since church leaders are so focused on Sundays-at-church, they begin thinking that people who are Sundays-at-home people aren’t interested in things of faith. It’s not that way. In fact, a huge percentage of millennials report praying.

We have 22% of millennials that have a Sunday-at-church mindset. We need to keep building that as strong as we can. But we also need to engage in those who aren’t showing up at church on Sundays.

Do we love the families who don’t come to our churches as much as we love those who do?

Reggie Joiner #OC20

Have you wondered why you’re leading in this moment?  The fact that you’re a leader during this pivotal time means God has something in store and need for you.


Depression robs you of feeling joy, keeps you from feeling love for others and from others.

When a leader runs into someone with this story, a tough story dealing with depression and other mental health struggles here the best three things you can do: 1) Validate Them, 2) Appreciate Them 3) Refer Them (if needed).

Some of our cultural busyness has insulated our inner life, and this is increasing depression and anxiety in kids and adults. Now that all the busyness is stripped away, we’re in the midst of our own minds.

Best thing you can do for kids dealing with this is to hold open the door and say love you. I can’t fix you or stop what you’re feeling. Sometimes we try and stop the emotion and that’s a mistake.

Open the door, I’m here, you’re not alone, I’m willing to help where I can, but it is your work to be done.

You can’t delegate the mental health of your child – it’s on the parents.

Here are some tips: Ask how they are feeling on a scale of 1-10. This helps give them some language to explain their feelings. You can also do a daily check-in: How is your mind (thoughts), your heart (emotions) and your body (physical, breathing, etc).



Collapse or adapt.  These are the two options.

The question should be – how do we serve? Not how do we keep business, or preserve ourselves, not how do we make money, but how do we serve.

As we serve, we are reinviting ourselves.

Gather your leaders and ask them to produce fifteen new ideas for your organization. This is about contribution, not competition. Sit at a round table and be the last to speak.

There is a difference between positivity and optimism. Positivity is having rose-colored glasses. Optimism is the acceptance of the darkness but believing there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

Interruption is when your internet goes down and after coming back on, it picks back up where it left off. This pandemic is not an interruption in that sense. Our lives aren’t going to be the same after this…

Our worldview and behavior will be shaped….

Many people are on a totally new path. Family dinner every night. We’re seeing the value of family. Increase times of phone calls and connections. You cannot form deep meaningful relationships with text.



Churches need to have a plan for the next generation. The ones that do are going to be ok.

Resourced people are often future-oriented people.

Nothing is more important to the local church than the next generation. 

Organizations do exactly what they are organized to do.  

Organize your church to the next generation. 


  1. All the information and misinformation in the world is at their fingertips 24/7. We have fully embraced teaching the Bible in this digital way. 
  2. They are on a meaning and security quest, not a truth quest. This changes where we start as we invite them to follow Jesus.
  3. Inclusion, diversity and sustainability are moral issues for this generation. It used to be political, now it’s an issue of right and wrong. 
    1. Something of a generational issue. 
    2. We have to understand it…  
    3. You can too easily undermine your credibility with the next generation. 
    4. They’re not consistent in this – like the rest of us they are hypocritical in their ways of living this out. 
  4. Love is their ethic but it’s loosely and conveniently defined. 


  1. Frame the invitation around following Jesus. 
    1. More than becoming a noun – a Christian – the best invitation is to follow – a verb. The word Christian is a label. 
    2. Have you started following jesus? Did you stop following jesus? Following Jesus – it’s easier to grasp and define.
    3. In the first century – Christian was describing behavior, now it’s more about what a person believes, not what they do. 
    4. It implies what it really means to follow. 
    5. Doing is really what it’s all about! 
    6. You’ve seen students who are building their houses on sand. 
    7. Lordship – a huge word – listen to his words and let him be Lord.
    8. Dont just ask kids to take on a label, a noun, but to take on an action – to follow Jesus. 
  2. Establish the gospels as the text on how to follow Jesus. 
    1. Who is our authority?  Jesus 
    2. Who are we asking people to commit to – not a book, Jesus. 
    1. Invite them to follow jesus. 
    2. Then do everything I’ve commanded you to do. 
    3. The teaching of Jesus informs our faith. 
    4. They have access to all that is in the Bible without owning a bible or touching a bible or turning the page of one. 
    5. This generation can find out what’s in the bible without ever picking one up.
    6. Inviting this generation to a faith that is based on the authority on the entire bible, because they can discover all the parts that do not support it. They are going to ask good questions. They have access to so much more information. 
    7. They are far less inclined to build their faith presuppositional, beginning there is a non starter with this generation. 
  3. Anchor their orthopraxy to Jesus’ new covenant command. (Orthopraxy is the right behavoir, orthodoxy is the right belief.) 
    1. Our teaching has to be anchored to Jesus command. 
    2. John 13:34-35 
    3. A new command – love one another. 
    1. But Jesus says next: they are the guardrails for this love. 
    2. And this is where we should start with our orthopraxy. 
    4. In the gospels we see this love illustrated… in Paul, we see this love applied. 

This is the question we should place front and center: What does love require of me?  In light of What God has done for me, what now does love require? 

If you send them into the world with this question dangling in front of them, you have won half the battle of getting kids to follow Jesus and live life following the Lord

What’s more important than the next generation?  Nothing. So we need to be figuring out this stuff – inviting people to follow Jesus.



Churches aren’t that great at developing leaders. We can get slots filled, most often, but we aren’t good at developing leaders.

We find people and once we get the spot filled we go after the next person. 

Why develop leaders? That’s what you do when you care for people. 

Doug Fields

We’re not good at developing leaders because we’re busy, scared and insecure. We become self-preservation leaders. 

We’re too busy and don’t have time for people, we’re scared to share our wisdom and insecure that we might lose our influence. 

Give them real responsibility.  You delegate responsibility. You dump tasks. 

Work to get team members in your lane on youth ministry – not a million ministries in the church. 

People don’t leave ministries, they leave leaders. 

Make sure your leader meetings have HEART and LAUGHTER. 

You can send admin and calendar stuff through email. Then when you get together, you want to create community, affirm, connect, celebrate. 

Much of visionary leadership is repetition.



We will see a shift from material to the spiritual. 

We’re in a teachable moment – shaking and waking us up to our false sense of security. It’s shaking our illusion of control. 

Do we believe in the gospel or not? Let’s pray like we believe it. 

There will be a shift from analogue, to digital and and back to analogue. 

Going digital will expand the reach of the church. But there will still be a need for the laying on of hands..  

We’re not trying to build a church, we’re trying to bless a city. 

A big shift from weekly to daily…  Daily spiritual disciplines. Daily investment in spiritual growth, community and connection.

There will be a shift from programs to prayer.

Prayer is the way we write history before it happens. 

Mark Batterson

Positivity is contagious. 



Video teaching works when the content is good.

Every church now is multisite. 

Our church is meeting across the region. 

After this, in-person gatherings are going to be more intimate. 

We’ve seen during the COVID crisis that production isn’t as big of a deal as it has been the last 15-20 years for the church. It gives a new level of authenticity and intimacy. 

After this, what happens at home will take precedence over what happens at church. Neighborhoods will gain influence and a place in people’s hearts.

As we relaunch church we want to lean into the idea of neighborhood. 

  1. Look at our ministry – how scalable is it? Does it work in the home? In a group of 10, 25 or 50? Our ministry needs to be portable. 
  2. The rhythm of communication needs to change. The relationships need to be ongoing. Letters, email, snail mail, social media  – it’s all a conversation.
  3. Explore partnership with other churches – what would it look like to come alongside and help them… 
  4. We need new leaders for groups of 20, 50 and 100. This should change how we develop leaders for tomorrow.

You don’t have to lead in this, you get to.


Values are timeless. Innovations are temporary. How you do things will always change. What you do doesn’t.

Change never threatens what is timeless. Change highlights what is timeless.

If you want kids to know they are significant, give them something significant to do.

Are you trying to grow attendance or grow influence?

Three needs for revolution:

  • An incredible idea at the right time.
  • A catalytic leader with a supportive community
  • A mechanism to spread the original message

Nobody questions that Jesus is the greatest revolutionary.

See other notes from conferences and gatherings here.

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