As the five of us walked up to the crowd waiting to enter the Gas South Arena in Duluth, Georgia the rumble of excited voices could be heard. The quick footsteps walking up the stairs were almost in sync with the strains of music floating in the air. The cool, crisp afternoon weather all added to the expectation of the Orange Conference 2023. Slowly the door in front of us opened. We could hardly wait to see what was on the other side of the opening doors.
As we stepped inside, the arena was huge! We turned around to take it all in, the lights, the upbeat praise music, the stage set and the other approximately 4500 children’s ministry leaders and volunteers from every state and over 20 countries who were there, just like us. A sense of exhilaration filled the room.
The New Hope West Children’s Ministry Team—Collett Thourson, Michele Cross, Tammy Farley-Mahoe, Winnie Mears, and I, yours truly, Robben Lyons—like all the others in that space, were ready to learn new and creative ways to lead children and families, to help them image what it means to be the church. We were there to experience how to champion the faith of the next generation!
We attended 22 main sessions with powerful presenters who shared their faith and their leadership clearly and with passion. We were given the opportunity to attend 40 workshops dealing with all aspects of ministry to families, volunteers, and children.
Each workshop that I attended gave me insights into how I, as the Director of Children’s Ministry, can lead NH Kidz ministry volunteers, families, and children in innovative ways.
One of the greatest take aways for me was hearing over and over something I was happy to receive and unpack in a new way. It was simply that we ALL want to be seen and heard. From our youngest “littles” to each family member, and each amazing volunteer, every single person we interact with.
This theme was shared with the simple phrase, “See You Tomorrow,” the theme of the conference.
I imagine See You Tomorrow was what Jesus intended for us to do. What I mean is this: I will see YOU as we talk, as we share, as we do ministry and life together. I will listen attentively and actually see you as a parent, as a child, as a volunteer, a friend, a mentor. I will SEE you as someone I cherish and value.
It is a promise that we make to the current and to the next generation.
Tomorrow is the second half of the promise. Tomorrow is the future. Tomorrow is a new beginning. When we move Jesus into the center of all we do our tomorrow looks different.
“Tomorrow we will pray together
we will worship together
we will laugh together
we will learn together
we will cry together
but most of all we will keep working together.” Reggie Joiner, CEO, and founder Orange Curriculum
For me, See You Tomorrow means that tomorrow our NH Kidz leaders and volunteers will show up with joy and a passion to serve Jesus and His families! Tomorrow we will still be here serving not because we have to but because we are blessed and honored to serve!
If you would like to hear more about NH Kidz, Orange Curriculum, or the Orange Conference, please feel free to chat with me.
I will See You Tomorrow!
Robben Lyons, Director of Children’s Ministry
Graduate of New Hope Christian College (formerly Eugene Bible College)
P.S. What a blessing it is to have come full circle from former student, then, to New Hope Kidz Director at New Hope West, now!