I just arrived in Atlanta and I’m preparing for a very busy week at the 2018 Orange Conference. This year will be my 11th Orange Conference. I attended for the first time in 2008 and I just keep coming back for more each and every year.

I’ve been asked before, “Why Orange?”

I know people who mix it up and attend different conferences every year (I’ve actually been blessed with the opportunity to attend and speak and many different ministry conferences). They ask, “why do you keep coming back to the same conference each and every year. Why Orange?”

It’s the wrong question. The better question is “Who is Orange?”

I think the content is top notch. I learn every year. I go home with amazing new ideas and resources. I leave inspired and ready to take on a new ministry year. But I don’t attend orange for the content. I attend Orange for the people.

This is how I ended up at Orange in the first place. I remember “discovering” Orange 12 years ago. I had been to a couple of ministry conferences in the past and I was really looking to learn. I looked at the websites of several upcoming conferences and nothing really jumped out at me. So I took another approach. There were a handful of ministry leaders that I knew of. People I hight respected. People like:

  • Jim Wideman
  • Sue Miller
  • Craig Jutila
  • Reggie Joiner

12 years ago, they were ministry giants in my world. I asked a very important question.

“Where are these people?”

I had to find out what conferences these people would be at. Interestingly, that year they would all be at the same conference. That conference was called Orange. I bought my ticket immediately.

This idea of relationship has continued to be a major theme in my Orange experience. When I pick breakouts to attend, I rarely pick a breakout based on its title or description. I pick the breakout based on who is speaking. Obviously, the topic is important, but a trusted leader/communicator is worth his/her weigh in gold.

Lastly, I prioritize relationships while at Orange. Some of my favorite past conferences were times when I missed a general session I had been looking forward to attending because I was learning from an amazing ministry leader. Even now, my calendar is jam-packed with appointments. I will share food or coffee with at least a dozen different ministry leaders this week. Some appointments I made weeks ago, other appointments will be set up as I meet people I want to connect with.

Sure, you can meet people at just about any conference but Orange is different. In just a couple of days, over 8000 of the smartest ministry minds will gather together in Atlanta. That’s a lot of ideas, experience, and innovations flowing around me.

This week I’ll be at Orange, learning from as many people as I can. I hope to meet you at Orange too. Let me know when you’d like to meet up and I’ll make it happen!