Have you ever tried to talk to a kid and realized you had no clue what to say next? Or maybe you were locked in conversation, but had zero idea what the kid was talking about. Or maybe you knew exactly what they were saying, but you were too shocked to know how to respond. Creating great conversations with kids week after week can be challenging, and we’re here to help.

Today on the Think Orange Podcast, Jeanne Stevens, one of the lead pastors of Soul City Church in Chicago, joins us to talk about the role creativity plays in creating great conversations with kids from a storyteller’s perspective. Then our friends Toni Collier and Brooklyn Lindsey interview Afton Phillips, Orange’s Director of Lead Small, about creating great conversations with kids in a small group setting. This is an episode that communicators and Small Group Leaders (SGLs) alike won’t want to miss!

Welcome to Episode 20 of the Think Orange Podcast.

Where To Listen:  iTunes  |  Google Play  |  Stitcher  |  SoundCloud

Topic Timeline

Beginning of talk with Jeanne Stevens (3:11)

The resistance we face in creativity (3:11)

There’s a divine connection between God as Creator and us as the created (4:10)

Myths of creativity and inspiration (5:07)

  • Creativity only comes from creative types of people
  • Creativity is motivated by money
  • Creativity is fueled by time pressure
  • Creativity is a solo venture
  • Creativity happens only in streamlined organizations

Breaking through the myths of creativity and inspiration (8:27)

  • Stop worrying about what results will emerge and instead start to imagine
  • Establish disciplines in the creative process

Toni Collier and Brooklyn Lindsey’s interview with Afton Phillips (13:48)

Measuring what a great conversation with a kid or student looks like (17:07)

Common barriers to creating conversations with the next generation (20:05)

Kids learn best when they’re able to apply truth themselves (21:13)

How a small group setting encourages great conversations (22:45)

Hindrances to kids and students feeling comfortable at church (25:35)

Using icebreaker questions to connect with kids (28:30)

Tips for SGLs to foster ongoing conversations with parents (36:00)

Onstage communicators have the opportunity to set up SGLs to win (39:35)

Dave’s final thoughts (42:05)

People, Places & Helpful Resources

Come see us at Orange Tour!

Learn More About Weekly. Ready-To-Use and Customizable Digital Resources Designed to Cue Parents and Small Group Leaders Every Week.

Lead Small Icebreaker Box

Featured Guests

Jeanne Stevens


Jeanne Stevens is one of the lead pastors of Soul City Church in the dynamic West Loop neighborhood of Chicago, IL. Soul City began in the fall of 2010. Prior to starting Soul City Church, Jeanne served on the staff of Willow Creek Community Church for 11 years as a Student Ministry Pastor and on the staff of North Point Community Church for 4 years.Jeanne has had the opportunity to teach, pastor and speak in to the lives of thousands of people across the US and around the world. Her passion to develop leaders, to encourage people to live from the fullest part of themselves and to live boldly give her a unique voice of hope and challenge. Jeanne is the author of Soul School, a contributor to the Bible Study and DVD Series “Twelve Women of the Bible” as well as “Real Women, Real Faith”.

In addition to pastoring Soul City Church Jeanne finds great joy in being a wife to her husband of 17 years Jarrett, and a mom to her 7 year old son Elijah and 5 year old daughter Gigi. The Stevens family lives in the West Loop of Chicago and love trips to the park, cheering for the Chicago Bulls, and the continued pursuit of the city’s best taco.

Afton Phillips


Afton Phillips is the Lead Small Director at Orange, which basically means she has been thinking about small groups, small group leaders, and small group strategies every single day since 2012.

Before that, she spent three years working in children’s ministry at Browns Bridge Church and graduated from Johnson University with a degree in children’s ministry. But most importantly, Afton leads a small group of second graders every Sunday. If you want to be Afton’s best friend, all you need to do is buy her a black coffee and let her wear a tiara all day. She strongly believes tulle skirts should be worn every single day, and her favorite place is any giant used book store.

Afton is the author of The Art of Group Talk: How to Lead Better Conversations with Kids.

Quotes from This Episode

Ideas to Influence the Next Generation

1. Creating better conversations means planning ahead.

Kids can be random, but your small group conversations don’t have to be. In fact, from preliminary planning meetings for large group teaching to the creating of small group resources, conversations with kids have the potential to be well thought out. You might not have a script every week, but chances are you’ve been given a general plan. As a leader, get to know where your group is headed every week so you can steer your conversation in the right direction.

 2. Creating better conversations means thinking on your toes.

For all the conversations that require careful planning, there are the ones that seemingly just happen. Like when the high schooler in your small group calls at 11:00 p.m. because he just broke up with his girlfriend and desperately needs advice. Or when the third grader sitting next to you during circle time lets you know his parents got in a big fight last night. In those moments, it’s hard to know what to say. But that’s when you lean in, put on your best listening ears, and ask lots of questions.

3. Creating better conversations means knowing your audience.

The best conversations happen in the context of relationship. When take the time to get to know the person sitting across from you, your words have the potential to make a greater impact. Understanding the culture, phase, and personal circumstances your few are in will give you the leverage to create even better conversations with them.


Conversation Starters For Your Church

What rhythms can our team put in place to practice the discipline of creativity?

How much small group time do we build into weekly programming for kids and students in every phase? For each age group, is that timeframe too much, too little, or just right?

How can we help communicators use their time onstage to cue great small group conversations offstage?

Your Hosts

Dave Adamson, The Think Orange Podcast Host


When he’s not working as a pastor at North Point Ministries in Atlanta, Dave is usually making his family cross their arms, roll their eyes, and tap their feet while he takes “just one more quick photo” on family outings. You’ll also often find him up to his neck in “Jewish stuff” as he researches the cultural context of Jesus for his daily Instagram devotions. Learn more about Dave at daveadamson.tv.

Ashley Bohinc, The Think Orange Podcast Host


Ashley serves as the Director of Middle School Strategy at Orange and the USA Director of Carry 117. She has worked with students in public education, athletic and ministry settings for the last 12 years. She is most passionate about resourcing the local church, communicating on stage, developing leaders, working with students and world missions. In her downtime, you’ll find her watching Friends, cheering on the Cleveland Cavaliers, traveling, reading, or on one of her Fairytale Friday Adventures.

Join Us Next Week

Thank you for listening to the Think Orange Podcast.

We hope you’ll join us for next week’s episode. More importantly, we hope that when you think next generation, you think Orange.