It’s just a phase, but it’s all yours. Whether you wow the adorable preschoolers, brave the daring elementary kids, weird out with the middle-schoolers or Snap Chat the high-schoolers, you’ve chosen to work with one or more life stages that holds a special place in your heart. And you wouldn’t trade it for anything.
In exchange for Orange Conference 2015 tickets, we asked you why you decided to work with your phase and, of course, why it’s the best. Once again, you didn’t disappoint! You inspired us, and we know you’re inspiring others. Thank you for what you do.
Here are the contest winners, and just a little about their phase:
- Kayleigh Schumske – “Inspiring other adults, young adults and even teenagers to become passionate about ministering to children and teenagers has become my passion. Your job at Orange is to inspire those involved in family ministries all over the world to bring family and church together in order to make a larger impact in the lives of the families they serve. You’ve certainly done that in my life, and now I’m seeking to do that for other leaders. My job is to love families so much that my love for them flows into my leaders as I watch them love those families as well.”
- Neal Dyer – “What I love most about working with the elementary kids is their wonder and excitement about following God’s plan for their lives. Not only have I realized how vitally important ministry is to children, but I have recently begun to see how powerful ministry is to the entire family. There is no way that I would want to work with kids unless I could work with the entire family. For those families that have made the dive into ‘thinking Orange’ with us, I am seeing great fruit (no pun intended) from their efforts.”
- Kellee Gentry – “My husband Robert is THE greatest children’s pastor in the world. It started off being his thing. I would be the supportive wife, but teaching in an elementary school classroom was my thing. Then God got a hold of me and my heart was changed. After a month of being in the role of the happy encourager, I knew I wanted more. I wanted to be his partner in life and in children’s ministry. One month ago, I was able to quit my teaching job to work side-by-side with him. Now children’s ministry is not just our phase—it is our passion, our calling and our privilege to get to serve families each and every week.”
- Jen Van Dalen – “I work with two groups of awesome people who I have the chance on a weekly basis to show them how important they are to me, but mostly how God sees them as important. My first phase is my preschoolers. I get to work with 3- to 5-year-olds weekly, and I love seeing their faces light up when they ‘get it.’ The other group that I work with weekly is high school girls. I am realizing how important it is for me to be fully there for them—to not only show up on a weekly basis, but to show up during the week as well. I realize what I do today matters for tomorrow. God didn’t just give me these two groups of people to love for one day a week, but to take my love for them throughout the week and let them know just how important their phase is to me.”
- Katie McGee – “My phase: the smell of syrup, the endearing attack hugs and life-giving evidence of child-like faith. I spend my Sundays hanging out with nine-year-old leaders-in-training who love to laugh, distract and worship. This group leads their peers and younger children. I developed this team because the beliefs, values and spiritual foundation of a child matter. By the age of nine, a child’s moral foundation is set (Barna). How can we look at these facts and still refer to children’s ministry as ‘childcare?’ You see, someone believed in me at age nine. I was convinced that I had purpose, value and meaning when I was a kid. And this is why, at age 21, I have devoted myself to believing in children and impacting their faith.”
- Kellianne Hern – “I became a Christian in 1992. I had passively resisted a strong calling to return to church for several years. Little did I know my fiancé was experiencing the same pull at his heart. One weekend, we mutually decided to go to church. There was a young mom there with a baby who was fussy. I asked to hold her and she quieted down as soon as I held her. After several weeks, I realized I had a gift with babies. Ten years later, I truly believe God led me to do what I do—my church’s nursery director. The joy of caring for little ones, guiding them to Jesus, and allowing parents to be fed in the service are blessings that I cherish. I work in the nursery because I truly believe it is never too early to help a child learn Jesus wants to be his friend forever.”
- Joshua Thomas – “I am a second year college student, and I love working with high school students! I have had this passion since I was changed in high school by my youth group and small group leaders within the ministry. Through my time serving with high school students I have been able to see such incredible life change. Students have opened up within my small group, and I have been able to guide them through hard times and show them that they have such incredible purpose in their own lives. I believe the next generation is going to change the world, and I love the fact that I get to help them accomplish their dreams through ministry.”
(We had a three-way tie for the final ticket, so we ended up with seven winners instead of five! Congratulations, everyone!)
OC15 will take place in Atlanta from April 29–May 1. Register by December 11 to save $60, plus receive bonus content from this year’s Orange Tour. For more information and to register, please visit TheOrangeConference.com.