This last week I was given the tremendous opportunity to attend the Orange Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
We utilize the Orange curriculum which focuses on the fact that 2 combined influences are greater than 2 individual influences on their own.
Specifically the church partnering with parents is a strategy that allows us to impact the faith of the next generation.
I wanted to share what I learned at this conference in a post but it’s a little like trying to drink from a fire hose. So while I’ll continue to process all that I learned; there is a cool picture I want to share, that I thought encapsulated my experience well.
The theme this year was “It’s Personal”.
To kick off the conference Reggie Joiner told the story of Zachaaeus and really underscored the fact; that even though there was always a crowd with Jesus; he made it personal.
He called out the tax collectors, the unclean, the sinners, the unwanted, and the rejected by NAME. He calls us by name.
He made it personal.
What’s ironic is what I wrestled with most this week was in a moment that was arguably, the most impersonal.
Let me rephrase.
As I sat in a conference with 8,000 people I was humbled with how small I felt in all of it.
This last Easter the church I work at saw over 8,000 people come through our doors. And as I looked at these rows upon rows of seats at the conference, I could picture entire sections being the 100s of students we saw at Easter.
I was humbled.
To have a visual representation of our church in front of me helped me realize three things.
1. The amount of children and students that need Christ in my own community is a staggering number. It’s a gigantic crowd.
2. The church. God’s engine to change the world has a staggering amount of people who love Jesus, love his church, and want to reach the next generation. As overwhelming as that many people is, it was also exciting. What would happen in our city, our country, our world, if all those people fully followed Christ?
3. God is so incredibly big and I am so incredibly small. And yet he calls me by name.
That’s the beautiful thing about its personal. When I saw all these people I realized that they each represented a church of their own back home. Each church looked a little different. And if we wanted to bring the entire body of Christ together, there’s no stadium large enough.
Short of Heaven.
And that’s an exciting idea.
Because there’s something in realizing the bigness of our call; the bigness of Christ’s Church, but most of all the bigness of our God.
As I looked around at the many different faces in that arena, it was this awesome veiled reflection of Heaven. People of every nation and every tongue worshipping God together.
Now what’s truly amazing is when we think about how that God that deserves each and every ounce of worship we offered, he knew each of us by name. He knows our story.
And to a point we do too. We don’t know everything they’ve gone through. And we can learn from each other. But what connected us was the story we shared. That veiled reflection of Heaven is the goal. It’s the last page of the book. As I watched row upon row worship, I could see the faces I saw in my church in the faces of the arena. I could see the kids and the students and parents I’ve prayed so hard for, stranding in a gigantic worship chorus.
Even though for a moment it felt impersonal; in the end it was the most powerful connection of all.
Can you picture it?