I’m working hard to review all the sessions and breakouts of the Orange Conference (back in April). This week, I want to review the content and experience of the “Implementing the XP3 Curriculum” session. Even though I’ve been using XP3 for a few years now, I still learned a bunch from the Jeremy and Jared comedy duo. Then, what made it unique for me, was that I got to be a part of a panel with three other youth guys to talk about implementation and questions people may have. [Yeah, my photographer friend didn’t get pics of Jeremy and Jared. But, let’s be real, my camera would have exploded with wonder, discover, and passion upon seeing them.]
My experience with the XP3 curriculum has been strong. As much as my pride causes me to sometimes think that we should “be doing our own stuff,” I’ve begun to really see the XP3 team as partners with Scott and me in developing our large group and small group communication.
The three main dealios for XP3 fall in line with the rest of the reThink (Orange) curriculum. At this stage, we’re really looking to:
- Incite WONDER (at our awesome God)
- Provoke DISCOVERY (about who these kids are in Christ)
- Fuel PASSION (for others)
One of the key things I was reminded of in this session is that oftentimes, we rip the wonder right out of youth ministry because we spoon-feed the “right answers” to every question before our students can wrestle with the ideas. What ends up happening is kind of like a “wonder atrophy” because God is pretty much this manageable God who can be explained away and placed in a really small box. That’s not the God of the Bible! It’s important for youth workers to allow kids to think, allow them to worship– making God big in their lives.
The self-discovery (what does it look like to follow Jesus) is really ramped up in elementary with the 252 Basics and the 36 virtues, but I really feel like that discovery happens best for teenagers in the midst of our kids having their passion fueled for reaching people beyond the walls of the church.
I like the XP3 curriculum because it helps me leave kids asking questions, helps kids to further identify themselves as sons and daughters of God, and pushes them outside the holy huddle.
One of the things that I’ve always loved is that XP3 protects me from my blind spots. There are certain places of passion that I’m probably always going to land (making wise decisions, the Gospel, etc.), but there are also places that I may neglect if not careful (prayer, caring for “the least of these,” etc.). Knowing that XP3 is hitting all the relevant areas for this age group is key for me.
I love the way that the curriculum is designed to make the small group leader the “hero.” They finish the message. A lot of times, the speaker is supposed to leave a thought hanging so that the group can hash out the conclusion. It may seem messier, but it actually works better for ownership of an idea.
Another distinctive of XP3 is the “XP,” or experience. Each series has something that goes beyond information transfer. For example, I’m in a series right now about dating, “Dating by Numbers.” The XP for this series is that each student find a couple that they respect and interview them, asking questions about how they got together, what’s important, etc. Here’s what I’m banking on. No matter how great I am in my sermons, they may not remember anything by the end of the summer– but I’m banking on them remembering the time that they took to talk to someone they respected about their real life dating relationship. If you’re not doing the XP, you’re really not even doing the XP3 curriculum because that experience is so vital.
What makes the XP3 curriculum “orange” though (the Church partnering with the family) is the Parent Cue. The youth ministry team gets the opportunity to give parents a heads up on what’s going on; but, beyond that, a “cue” or conversation-starter based on what they’re learning at youth. This is a vital piece of the how-do-I-disciple-my-kids-now-that-I-don’t-tuck-them-in-at-night puzzle. This also helps to avoid a “dry cleaner” mentality amongst parents, “Hey, I’m just dropping my kids off with you. You clean ‘em up.” This helps start and maintain that conversation and partnership between the youth team and parents.
* At the end of the session, I got to go up with some fell0w youth guys and talk about my experience. It was cool. A nice lady in the crowd took pictures of me “for my mom.” He he he… I would just say that I would love to talk to anyone about implementation of the XP3 curriculum just like I did on that day. I certainly don’t need a mic in front of my face to talk about something I’m so passionate about. I also realized that I wished I was sitting down for 3/4 of that time because I would have loved to have recorded Lance, Michael, and Justin’s great ideas in my trusty orange notepad! Anyway, thanks for inviting me to be a part of it, Jeremy.
The Orange Tour was a great time shared with the rest of my family ministry teammates this past Fall. We went down to SoCal to learn from Reggie Joiner, Sue Miller, Matt McKee, and the Orange crew about how to partner with families to raise up disciples of Jesus. Man, I wish there was a way that ANYONE could go…
Oh, wait, there is! Egads!
They are actually having an online Orange Tour next Tuesday, March 6th. Awesome!
You can watch the streaming sessions with a team mate or two (or fellow parent) and also get the chance to win some pretty cool prizes from the hosts: Matt McKee, Sue Miller and Jared Herd. The Orange Tour is for every member of your team—preschool (including volunteers and pre-school parents), children’s (including volunteers and parents of children), student ministry (including volunteers and parents of middle and high school students) and senior pastors. OK, fine– this is really relevant to anyone! You’ll be able to learn the strategy you need for effective family ministry in your church, and discover the nine core insights to shaping the next generation’s worldview. Don’t miss this free yet valuable opportunity to learn what focused the rest of us so much over the past few months!
Schedule (adjusted for us LEFT-coasters):
10:00-10:10 a.m. – Live Intro with Host
10:10-10:30 a.m. – Session 1 – What is Orange
10:30-10:45 a.m. – Live Hosts taking questions
10:45-11:30 a.m. – Session 2 – Move Part 1
11:30-11:45 a.m. – Live Hosts taking questions
11:45-12:25 p.m. – Session 3 – Move Part 2
12:25-12:45 p.m. – Live
Session 1: The 5 Essentials by Reggie Joiner
Your church is either characterized by random activities or an intentional strategy. Review the core ideas that “Orange Leaders” use to keep their ministries focused and on mission.
Session 2: The Big Idea by Reggie Joiner
There were critical moments in Scripture when Jesus made it clear what was most important. Learn how the “Great Commandment” should be a critical filter to evaluate how we are leading and teaching the next generation.
Session 3: The Core Insights by Reggie Joiner
All truths are not created equal. There are certain core insights that should be cycled through the lives of kids and teenagers as they grow up. Learn how some of these insights can keep your ministry centered on a relationship with Christ.
Click here to register for this event. [Did I mention it’s FREE?!?!] You will receive an email prior to the event with instructions on how to access the live feed. And don’t forget to forward to your friends!
My seminary has a great blog upon which one particular post by Chad Hall caught my eye the other day.
He cited five problems with conferences that I want to examine more fully leading up to the Orange Conference. Because, let’s face it, dressing orange isn’t the only thing I need to do to prepare– preparing my heart is important as well.
Chad says, “While there is nothing inherently wrong with attending conferences, some cautions are in order.” And he lists the following potential struggles. And this is a strong warning (in the good sense):
2. Ministry Pornography.
3. The Data Dumps.
Envy makes sense for me. I’ve all over to all kinds of conferences, and it’s hard not to sometimes wish that you had the buildings, the resources, the massive teams, the “platform” that other churches have. At the same time, I want to pray that I don’t allow my fear of envy to fear that God might actually have bigger plans for my life than I had imagined. Conferences can open my eyes in this way.
“Ministry pornography” is explained pretty well on Western’s blog, but it’s basically the idea that we get an artificial picture of a lot of ministries at conferences– the flaws are “airbrushed” out through the presentations. I know that there are problems at every church, so it’s best not to idealize a particular church. I try to look at practices that work but also think about the flipside. I mean, if you ARE doing something, it typically means that you’re NOT doing something else. Also, what works in Alpharetta, GA may not work in Clovis, CA. In other words, drinketh not the Kool-Aid. Instead, I’ve always got to pray about what I’m seeing to think about if it would really work here.
Data dumps are great for me. I often feel like Johnny Five from “Short Circuit.” One of my Strengthsfinders is INPUT! So I love it. Combined with my memory, I usually can store up the data and bring it home and sift through the implications later. Since (as of now) I’m the one person from my church staff going to the Orange Conference I want to act as a responsible delegate– bringing back what I learn to reteach to the rest of the team. I think when you are learning to teach you retain a whole lot more.
Idolatry is a tough one. The concept of Christian rock stars has always baffled me. How uncomfortable would it make me to have people shouting my name when they should be shouting Jesus’? I feel sorry for those leaders who have that kind of “following.” I wouldn’t want to be the shrieking fan who says, “I touched Andy Stanley’s hand!” If we view things from a macro church model, basically the Sue Millers, Reggie Joiners, and Jared Herds of the world are brothers and sisters in Christ who I would respect if they were members of my own church, men and women who have come up with great ways of articulating the timeless message of the Gospel (and how it ties into family ministry). If they think they’re more than that, that’s between them and God (although I don’t think they do). If I think they’re more than that, that’s between me and God. But I do want to be careful of weighing the merits of an argument by saying, “Well, you know, Reggie says…” The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom, and I think that (for the speakers at most Christian conferences) they wouldn’t have it any other way!
Oh, consumerism. That’s a tough one. Sometimes I have to ask myself just how many books I need to be reading at once. This one is going to take self-control, that’s for sure. I thirst to learn. I want to get better. That’s one of the reasons I’m in seminary. I am consuming very expensive tuition in order to grow in my theology and practice. I have to pray about how to do that– and not overdo that. I think the same applies to conferences like Orange. I have to believe that there is so much that I haven’t learned, but I just have to make sure that I don’t go to the poor house over it. It would be great if I could get a seminary credit for taking a class on being orange, though. That would help! :-)
So…yeah, it goes beyond buying clothing. It goes beyond booking a flight from Fresno to Atlanta. I’ve got to prepare my heart. I’ve got to be a good steward of this opportunity and not let it be more than what it’s supposed to be (while at the same time not minimizing what it could mean in my personal journey).
Easier said that done, right?