First Christian Church | Pittsfield


Orange Conference - Kayla

07.12.22 | Elder's Corner | by Kayla Boren

    Everyone asks some version of three questions: “Who Am I?”, “Where do I fit?” and “What is my purpose?” When I attended this year’s Orange Conference I kept running into these questions. Throughout all of the sessions and all of the themes, the speakers kept addressing these core questions. I will use these three questions as a basis for my summary of my experience at Orange Conference 2022. 

    What is my purpose? 1st graders ask it at school; teens ask it at graduation; adults ask it when they turn 50. What is my purpose? The answer to that question is “You’re part of God’s story!” We all have a part to play. Our roles may look very different, based on ages, careers and giftings, but we ALL have a part in God’s story! One of the speakers that spoke on helping humans who struggle with ADD and ADHD experience church and community, said,” When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment, not the flower.” I love that statement so much, because we should not be going around just trying to “fix” everyone else’s “problems” or points of view; we should be loving them and serving them as the church! In Matthew 7, Jesus says, 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” 

    Another sentiment echoed throughout several speakers at the conference was this, “we are fearful of what we don’t understand.” We currently have a generation driven by justice and equality. Some of us don’t understand. One of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood is ADD / ADHD. Some of us don’t understand. We live in a time where 1 out of every 8 kids will struggle with their gender identity. Some of us don’t understand. We live in an environment that has ever-changing technology…that some of us don’t understand. It is easy to fear what we don’t understand. And that fear can lead us to shut down, be cruel or not be the church that Jesus wants us to be. 

    Fear doesn’t have to win. We can choose to say, “God Is Bigger.” The best cultures are made where humans feel safe. The best cultures are made where humans celebrate each other, loudly and often. The best parenting cultures are where the parents ask questions and they let their kids ask questions. That “not-understanding” can be an area for relationships. For the tension of the unknown can make a great place for creativity and growth. We are humans. We are loved. We can create a better environment for people. 

    Several of the sessions I attended addressed the issue of conflict. We have lived through years of escalated conflict, intensified division and heightened emotions. But we can choose better. We as the church can choose better. For, as Christians, we are not thermometers that reflect room temperatures; we are thermostats to change the air. When you walk into a room, does the anxiety level in the room go up or down? What environment are you bringing in your daily life? We should be sharing the message of Belonging. To the question, “Where do I belong?” The answer should be “You Belong With God’s People.” 

    When Jesus was praying in Gethsemane, he said, 20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. “ (John 17) Jesus prayed that we would be one. Our division is one of Satan’s biggest ploys. We are called to sibling love! One of the speakers was asked where they stand on specific issues and he said, “ I don’t stand on issues; I walk with people!” That is not to say we dismiss truth or we don’t speak out on points of salvation. But we should be making people feel like they belong. Another speaker said, “People are gonna’ people. Everyday.” If we start a sentence with the words, “I don’t see how they could…”, we have lost empathy. You will have problems and you will have disagreements; but as the church we should not let those disagreements affect how we love. How will people see us as working for them if we can’t even work together as a church? 

    The breakout sessions that I attended were the leadership and family ministry sessions. One major point that I took away was that we are all leaders. You may not call yourself a leader, but you are. You are a leader in your household; in your job; in your golf games; in your game nights; in your school. People are watching how we love and how we lead in our lives. We all have ministries and people that God has put in our lives for a reason. God has given us people in our lives that need to be loved, seen and heard. A leader checks his/her ego at the door and looks for things that are going well and for people to celebrate. Jesus says, By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) The future needs more and better leaders. Will you step up to the task?

    The final question that we all ask in love is, “Who Am I?” The answer is, “Jesus is enough.” That answer may sound like a strange response; but as Christians, it is true that whoever we are, Jesus is enough. How much of our lives are spent chasing the answer to that question? Whereas, Jesus calls us to rest in his love for us. We need to lower the volume of life to make room for God. We need to be in His word and seek Him everyday. We need to stop worrying as much about teaching the next generation principles and instead teach them to listen to the voice of God. We need to be learners of God and learners of each other. We need to learn to say, “I don’t know.” We need to remember how to have fun together. We need to invite God into our creativity. We need to do for a few what we wish we could do for many. Absurd times call for absurd amounts of love. The jump from not ready to ready is only a thought away. Will you join me? 

    Kayla Boren