Carey Nieuwhof, Senior Pastor of Connexus Community Church and member of the Orange team, writes the best Christian blog I know of. In preparation for the upcoming Orange Conference I have asked him to write on the importance of Christian leaders and their relationship with their family. His incredible insights are below and will also give you a preview of what you can expect at Orange.
If you are unfamiliar with the Orange Conference let me give you a quick overview. From April 30th through May 2nd, over 5,000 Christian leaders will convene in North Atlanta where they will discover that a strong focus on family ministry is a key to their church’s long-term growth and influence. As an Orange veteran, I cannot recommend this event enough. I hope to see you there. To learn more about the Orange Conference, click here or on the link above.
Now on to Carey’s thoughts. They will challenge you and make you a better leader.
I’m a senior pastor, and I’m passionate about “leadership” issues. But I almost missed one of the biggest of them all, all because it had to do with kids and teenagers.
While I have kids of my own, I thought kids in ministry were an issue that we programmed for.
It’s perspective many senior leaders fall into: hire or recruit some capable people to look after kids and teens so you can free up your time not to think about family.
I realize now that my old perspective was dead wrong. What’s more, it was incredibly unstrategic. And let’s add unspiritual into the mix too (I believe God has a heart for families).
My flawed perspective came into sharp focus several years ago. I had invited Reggie Joiner (who founded Orange) to speak at a conference I hosted. I wanted him to talk about leadership and give leadership talks. He agreed, on one condition: that he give one talk on the family.
I didn’t really want him to talk about family, not because I don’t like families (I love mine and many others), but because this was supposed to be about, well, leadership. I only agreed to let him do the talk because it was part of the deal.
So what happened?
I loved his leadership talks.
Almost everyone else couldn’t stop talking about his family talk.
It actually kind of frustrated me at the time. But I couldn’t deny it.
Talking about family lit up our families.
Talking about family lit up our families about their friends and neighbours and how to reach them.
I couldn’t put the genie back in the bottle.
Over the last few years I realized that Reggie is on to something big. He’s onto something that every senior leader ignores to his or her peril.
Family is an issue that demands the focus and attention of every senior leader (and their team) for at least these 5 reasons:
1. Unchurched people never lie awake at night thinking about your next sermon; but they do lie awake at night wondering if their kids are going to be okay. When you start the conversation with unchurched people around the cause of family, you have a conversation they’re already engaged in. And you want to reach families, right? What if the conversation about family is the greatest evangelism opportunity you’ve got?
2. Family is a universal issue. Sure, not everybody has a family. There are singles, and engaged couples, widows and many who are single again. And not every family is two adults with two kids (not that that was ever the Biblical definition of family anyway.) But everybody comes from family. And many of us spend great chunks of time being impacted by our families, even as adults. While families come in all kinds of different forms, when you speak family, you speak a language everybody understands.
3. Family is one of three arenas for applying any sermon. Most of the people any senior leader speaks to on Sundays tries to apply the message in one of three areas of life: family, work and friendships. By far, family is the biggest application area because most people spend so much time with family. To ignore family when preaching a message is to essentially tell people “this has no application in one of the most essential areas of your life”.
4. Your leaders think family before they think leadership. Guess why many of the leaders who serve in your children’s ministry and student ministry serve? Because they want to be better parents and have a better family. Speak to their hearts as parents even before you speak to their hearts as leaders. They’ll thank you for it.
5. This generation of parents is producing the next generation of leaders. If you want to see healthy leaders emerge in the next generation – both in the marketplace and in the church – then nurture healthy families. It’s simple as that. As goes the family, so goes the next generation. Your investment in family is an investment in next generation leadership.
Ministering to families isn’t something that should happen down the hall on a Sunday – it’s something that should be happening in the heart and mind of every leader every day.
Because family is pretty much everyone. If you miss family, you miss almost everything.
On April 30th, over 5000 leaders from the US and around the world will gather in Atlanta for the 2014 Orange Conference. I’ll be speaking there and also hanging out with a team of 17 from our church (Connexus) as well.
What are you learning about moving the cause of family higher on your agenda?
What do you think you’re missing if you miss family?
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