The Breakouts No Middle School Leader Should Miss At Orange Conference 2019

We are just a few days away from Orange Conference 2019, and I am so excited I am already not sleeping. All year I look forward to this week because I get to hang out with Youth Leaders from all over the world (literally!) and hear about what God is doing in and through their ministry. It’s amazing how filling it is to be around people who do what you do, understand you, and really value the work you are doing. We need each other to keep going!

 One question I always get leading up to Orange Conference is about which breakouts I think people should register for. The honest answer is I have no idea because I don’t know you or your ministry. Whatever problems you are currently trying to solve or navigate—go to those breakouts.  

But… if I were attending, these are the breakouts I, as a middle school youth leader, would not miss

Wednesday, May 1st  (YouLead Day)

11:00 – 12:00 Design Better Environments for Students with Trey McKnight & Charlie Conder

As students move toward independence, they need to know there are others who will always have their back. How can you create an environment that fosters those kinds of relationships? How do you welcome middle schoolers without overwhelming them? How do you mobilize high school students to achieve their potential? Let's explore how your ministry setting can be a natural extension of your student strategy.


11:00 – 12:00 Get & Keep The Best Volunteers with Christine Kreisher 

Recruiting and retaining volunteers isn’t easy. We don’t have to tell you that. Well, maybe we do. Recruiting and retaining volunteers isn’t easy. But it can be done! If you’re looking for techniques, approaches, tried and true methods, and even clarification on why it’s important to recruit and retain the best kinds of volunteers, then sign up for this breakout, and join the conversation. 


11:00 – 12:00 Translate My Enneagram with Beth McCord

The Enneagram: It’s everyone’s favorite number soup/personality type model! Whether you’ve studied to perfectly understand your type (hello! One), or you’re just along for the ride because, hey, you never know when a breakout could break out into a flash mob (looking at you, Seven), your Enneagram type can provide valuable tools for you to use in ministry. Join us to explore how your personality type relates to the work God has called you to do each day. Visit to discover your own number prior to the breakout. 


1:30 – 2:30 Transition Kids from Elementary to Middle School with Charlie Conder 

The transition from preteen to middle school is no joke! Everything is under scrutiny. Are these shoes still cool? Is this slang word still in use? This year is one of the biggest transitions they’ll face as environments, small group leaders, and even the way we talk about faith looks differently. How you guide them through these changes makes all the difference!


1:30 - 2:30 Transition Middle School to High School with Katie Edwards & Brett Talley 

Change is hard, and the transition from middle school to high school can be particularly hard for students. Last year, they were the big fish in school, but this year, they’re the minnows! If you’re strategic about transitioning them well, you can affirm, encourage, and guide them through this crazy time. After all, it’s tough being a minnow.


3:00 – 4:15 Stay Healthy As A Middle School Leader with Heather Flies 

If you’re certain that yet another Fortnite conversation or addressing one more crop top will send you over the edge—you’re not alone. Middle schoolers are changing so fast that keeping up with them can put you on the fast track to burnout. Join us for practical, personalized tools you can use to stay healthy as a leader so you have something left to pour into the kids in your ministry.


3:00 – 4:15 Lead Better Conversations with Teenagers with Jamal Jones, Tom Shefchunas, Crystal Chiang, Ashley Bohinc & Brett Talley

Before a student can connect with God, they need to connect with people who are connected with God. Conversations are about connections—even the ones about crushes and mean teachers, parents, or coaches. The truth is they all matter. And if you want to take your conversations with students from good to better, here is where you start!


Thursday, May 2nd

 10:45 - 11:45 Help Every Middle Schooler Feel Known with Ashley Bohinc

The volunteers in your middle school ministry already know they’re in for a roller coaster ride as they navigate the hormones and angst of the middle school years. But have you given them tools to make a personal connection with each student? Middle schoolers begin to believe they matter when a leader can answer these key questions about them: What is my name? Where do I live? What do I like? What have I done? What can I do? Join us to explore how you can personalize a training plan for the volunteers in your middle school ministry.


10:45 – 11:45 Watch a LIVE Recording of the RETHINKING YOUTH MIINISTRY Podcast with the Orange Students Team 

On the Rethinking Youth Ministry Podcast, we hope to raise the bar for youth ministry by asking questions, interviewing thinkers, and having real, honest conversations about what it looks like to lead the next generation. You can be part of that, too. Really. Come join us!


1:15 – 2:15 Respond to the LGBTQ Reality with Tom Shefchunas  

According to recent studies, one in ten students in Generation Z will identify as something other than heterosexual. Knowing this, as youth leaders, we should equip ourselves to minister to students who identify as LGBTQ in our youth ministries. We realize that this is one of the trickiest conversations in the Church today and one that has caused a lot of disagreement—but we believe tricky conversations are still worth having. That’s why the goal of this breakout isn’t to tell you what to believe or even what to teach, but instead how to respond when a student entrusted to us identifies as LGBTQ.


1:15 – 2:15 Unleash Volunteers in Student Ministry with Shane Sanchez 

The small group leaders in your student ministry are heroes. They just are, and everyone knows it. And if you set them loose, they will rise to the occasion. We know this because student ministry volunteers are a certain kind of special, and they’re there because they want to inspire real change in the world. In this breakout, Shane Sanchez will talk to you about what it looks like to let your leaders loose to do ministry in the best possible ways. Sign up today!


3:00 – 4:00 Ensure Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers Thrive in a Combined Environment with Brett Talley, Candice Wynn & Charlie Conder

When you have sixth graders and twelfth graders in the same youth ministry environment, things can get tricky. How do you reach students in the middle school phase and the high school phase in the same room at the same time? Join us as we discuss strategies and ideas to help ensure that your middle schoolers thrive among high schoolers in your youth ministry.


3:00 – 4:00 Help Parents of Teenagers Win with Kara Powell 

Across the board, leaders believe in the importance of partnering with parents. But beyond treating parents as checkbooks, chauffeurs and chaperones, many of us aren’t sure what it means to truly “partner,” and are even less sure how to do it well. Based on years of world-class research by the Fuller Youth Institute as well as the best thinking of the Orange team, this breakout shares key steps and a host of practical ideas that every church can use to help parents win, which in turn helps students win.


3:00 – 4:00 Lead Better Conversations with Teenagers with Katie Edwards, Katie Matsumoto, Ben Nunes, Italo Belandria & Ashley Bohinc

 Before a student can connect with God, they need to connect with people who are connected with God. Conversations are about connections—even the ones about crushes and mean teachers, parents, or coaches. The truth is they all matter. And if you want to take your conversations with students from good to better, here is where you start!


3:00 – 4:00 Reimagine Old Words With New Ideas with Sarah Anderson 

Some theological words have taken on a lot of white noise and negative connotations. We will look at how we can reimagine them for the next generation and ensure positive meaning.


4:45 – 5:45 Learn the Basics of the Orange Students Curriculum with the Orange Students Team  

If you're a youth pastor, you have one job. Well, actually you have about thirty jobs: leader, speaker, planner, designer, marketer, photographer, and recruiter, to name a few. The problem? Getting it all done. If that's you, our curriculum can help. From engaging teenagers to partnering with parents and equipping volunteers, our curriculum and strategy can help you get it all done without getting burned out. If you don't know anything about XP3 Middle School or XP3 High School curriculum or you are just starting out, join us to learn how it can help you make the most of your student gatherings every week.


4:45 – 5:45 Get the Most Out Of My Orange Students Curriculum with the Orange Students Team 

Are you getting the most out of your XP3 Middle School or XP3 High School curriculum and strategy? There's only one way to find out. Join us for a deep dive into the Orange Students curriculum and nerd out on all the unique things your curriculum has to offer. Maybe you’re a long-time XP3 user and wondering what’s changed in the past couple years. Or maybe you’re using XP3 but are unsure how to apply certain pieces of the curriculum in your unique ministry context. No matter where you find yourself as an XP3 user, if you’re ready to take a deeper look to get the most out of your curriculum, this breakout is for you!


I know I listed more than one breakout for each time slot…  so figure out whichever one would be most helpful to you in your current ministry situation, or figure out how to multiple your ears and have someone go take notes on your behalf! I promise, they are all so solid you are not going to want to miss any of them! 

Want to find out more about the breakouts available or register? Click HERE 


Oh, and don’t forget to sign up to get the Middle School Tribe texts! text MIDD to 404-445-2198

Photo: Garrett Lobaugh

Ashley Bohinc