7 Things I’ve Learned from 7th Graders

This week, I was a substitute small group leader.

Now, here’s the thing you need to know about being a substitute small group leader: when you sit down for the first time with a bunch of middle schoolers you barely know…you’re not going to have a very spiritual conversation. 

If you’ve ever met a middle schooler (or another human, for that matter), this probably isn’t news to you. Most of us aren’t exactly in the habit of pouring out our hearts to complete strangers.

So if you ever find yourself striking up a conversation with kids who don’t really know you, maybe don’t expect to guide them through a major spiritual breakthrough. Try to establish a few more reasonable goals instead. Like…

  • Remember their names.
  • Laugh with them.
  • Learn about their world.

This week, here’s what I learned about the world of a few seventh grade girls.


A Brand New Devotional For Students That I Really Super Love

Okay guys. I have a confession to make. Don’t be mad, but…

I hate devotionals.

Well, not really. I love the idea of devotionals. But sometimes it feels like I’m unimpressed by, like, 98% of the devotionals that I look at. Especially for middle schoolers and high schoolers. It’s because I hate verses without context or relevance and I hate questions that are too leading or too simple or sound too much like What did you learn? instead of What do you think? But, sometimes, it feels like I see a lot of those things on the shelves of Christian bookstores. Bummer.

When it comes to devotionals (especially devotionals for middle schoolers and high schoolers), I want something that gives kids an understanding of the voices and culture that are behind the verses they read. I want something that affects their lives, right now. I want something that provokes discovery and thought and engagement.


Conversations with Small Group Leaders

This month, I got the chance to collaborate with my friend/hero Brooklyn Lindsey on an ebook called Conversations with Small Group Leaders: How Giving and Receiving Feedback Can Transform Your Culture. 

We wrote it for the team over at Lead Small Weekly. And, by the way, have I told you about Weekly yet? I don’t think I have. I need to. Because I think you’re going to love it. Another day, though. For now, let me give you a peek at this ebook. Then I’ll tell you about another place you can go to hear more about this topic. And then, if you want even more, you can head over to Lead Small Weekly to get the full ebook. Cool? Cool. Here we go.


How to Brainstorm Using Creative Boards

Last week, I shared a photo from one of our creative meetings here at the Orange offices. Most of the time, when I post a picture of the creative boards we use for our meetings, I get a question or two about them. Where do those boards come from? How do you use them? What do you use them for?

We use these boards for just about everything. Planning our calendars. Mapping the scopes and cycles of our curriculum. Assigning communicators and locations to Orange Conference breakout sessions. And, like I’ll show you today, leading good old fashioned brainstorming sessions.

Last week, I led a creative meeting for our soon-to-be-released XP3 Middle School curriculum. We were brainstorming some creative “extras” for a few upcoming series. So, for those of you who are interested in how these boards might work, I’ll give you a peek at how I used them last week.


Challenging Your Volunteers… Without Scaring Them Away

I’ve written before about this idea of making bigger asks from your volunteers – especially your small group leaders. I love this topic. But if you’re going to talk challenging your volunteers with higher expectations, you really should talk about the other side of that coin, too.

How do you ask your volunteers for big commitment… without scaring them away?

Well I definitely don’t have all the answers. But I took a stab at answering that question this week on the GoWeekly blog.


The Lead Small Culture Book Club

Last week, I told you about a little online community that is rallying around this big question: How can our churches do small groups better in 2015?

And now, that little community is becoming a reality. Starting today, the Creating a Lead Small Culture Book Club is LIVE!

For the next five weeks, we’re going to be reading, learning, and talking about how to do small groups better. And I get to host it! It’s going to be pretty fun.

I’m so excited that so many of you have decided to be a part of this conversation with us (almost 1,000 people so far!) If you haven’t already signed up for the Book Club, there’s still time to get in on the fun. Just take a second and register. By registering, you’ll get access to some exclusive Book Club bonuses, like…


How to Do Small Groups Better in 2015

The first week of the New Year is here! If you’re like most people, you’re probably starting to think about all the things you want to do better in 2015.

A better workout routine.
Better friendships.
Better hair.
Getting better at solving a Rubik’s cube. (No? Just me?)

Well, whatever our “better” lists look like in 2015, there’s one thing I’d love to see on all of our lists. It’s an area where we all have room for improvement. And it’s something that will directly impact the future of countless kids and teenagers.


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