The Phase Voices

“Every leader has a story.”

That’s just one of the many things I’ve learned working for Reggie Joiner for the past ten years. Perhaps no one values the unique stories of every leader more, and it’s been just one of the lessons I hope I will always remember.

Maybe that’s why from the beginning “Just a Phase” has been a collaborative effort. Every leader we meet has . . .
a new insight,
a new story,
a new article that inspired them.

And really, there’s no way to separate out just how and where all these thoughts collide to become random sticky notes on our phones, inspiration for creative meetings, cards on our creative boards, and eventually crafted into phrases for publications. What I can say is there have been more contributors than I can name.

Here are just a few:
(Really there are many, many more)

Jon Acuff – Jon is easily one of the most “followed” people I know—and for good reason. He’s worth following. Jon not only has a message to business leaders and young adults, he has a message for parents and anyone who influences the next generation. His story intersects the Phase story to bring humor, fresh perspectives, and some of the most insightful ideas about raising a generation for technological responsibility.

Jim Burns, Ph.D. – Meeting Jim is like meeting Reggie. He has all the wisdom of working in ministry and raising three adult daughters—he’s just a little nicer. Jim is the person every parent should have on speed dial for emergency parenting questions. Unfortunately, he said “no” to that idea. Instead he graciously meets with us to share his experience and learning in many areas including the real world challenges of raising kids and teenagers to have sexual integrity.

Holly Crawshaw – Holly is the mother of two strong-willed daughters with almost as many opinions as she and her husband, Ben. Holly’s experience as a mother, a former public school teacher, and the Director of Preschool Ministry for Browns Bridge Church make her a valuable voice for many areas of the Phase Project. She also just has a way of writing that makes everything sound good in print.

Sofia Dickens – There aren’t many people who’s leading story line says “From Harvard to Hollywood,” but Sofia’s story is the best of both. After studying Emotional Intelligence at Harvard, Sofia became the host for the Channel One News airing daily in public schools for an audience of 8 million. Since then Sofia pioneered strategies with her own three children to help them grow up with a high EQ. She is now the founder of EQtainment, creating global resources to improve emotional intelligence in children.

Doug Fields – Doug is more than simply a youth ministry legend. With unparalleled intuition, Doug has an uncanny way of getting right to the heart of the matter. In fact, there’s a good chance he already knows your life story, and when you meet him someday he will tell you exactly what you need to hear most. His wisdom about marriage, parenting, and growing up holds the academic side of the Phase Project accountable to what is real, authentic and true in the lives of the people you meet everyday.

Brad Griffin – Brad is blends academia and real-world ministry. If you pitch an idea to Brad, don’t expect instant approval—he’s probably thinking it over. But if you want an idea to matter, it’s worth waiting for what he has to say. Brad’s experience as a youth pastor and small group leader combined with his discoveries from the past ten years at Fuller Youth Institute bring insight to the Phase Project about what it really means to mobilize the faith of high schoolers and emerging adolescents.

Stuart Hall – If 10,000 hours makes you an expert—Stuart is by far an expert when it comes to speaking to students. If you haven’t heard Stuart speak, you’ve probably heard someone who heard Stuart speak. (6 Degrees to Stuart Hall is a good ministry game for a rainy day). Stuart is currently the father of three, ages 15, 17, and 19, so he’s living out the phases of high school and 18+ on a daily basis. He brings real world experience to the Phase Project to keep it situated in practical and relevant terms.

Brooklyn Lindsey – Every middle schooler needs someone to affirm their personal journey. Maybe that’s why after 16 years in middle school ministry affirmation is part of Brooklyn’s second nature. Even if she wasn’t an expert on the mind and world of adolescence, even if she wasn’t a skilled communicator, even if she didn’t have a passion for connecting teens to consistent service opportunities, I might keep Brooklyn on speed dial just because.

Cara Martens – Cara is easily one of the most well read and creative leaders I’ve ever come across. Reggie first introduced the two of us after we had been sitting shoulder to shoulder for ten minutes reading and not speaking to each other at the Panama City Beach airport—embarrassing. Ever since that meeting, Cara has enriched the Phase Project with fresh and innovative ideas about child development because her brain literally never stops spinning.

Caz McCaslin – If you’re a parent, Caz is the coach you always wanted for your son or daughter. But since he can’t personally coach every kid, it’s a good thing he’s the President of Upward Sports where he has influenced over 1 million leaders who have coached over 4.5 million young athletes in the past 18 years. I can’t think of anyone with a more authentic passion to influence the faith and future of every child. Every conversation with Caz inspires us to care even more about kids—especially 4th graders.

Sue Miller – Sue can inspire a sack of potato chips to sprout legs and volunteer in children’s ministry. If you want to know why children matter, and why volunteering with children matters, spend an hour with Sue Miller. It will literally change your life. Sue infuses the Phase Project with the kind of authentic humor that makes you feel like she really knows what raising children and working in ministry is like—because she does.

Kara Powell, Ph.D. – Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute, faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, wife, mother, and ministry volunteer, somehow Kara seems to balance the un-balance-able. She brings to the Phase Project one of the most thoughtful approaches to practical theology and youth ministry. In spite of the fact I never want to do a standing interview with her in person (I’d feel pretty intimidated), she is one of our favorite leaders to have in a creative meeting.

Dan Scott – After 9 years of full-time children’s ministry, Dan joined the Orange team bringing not only the perspective of a ministry practitioner and the father of four, but also the knowledge of an avid reader. We have becoming increasingly convinced there is no book on child development and parenting Dan has not read. Dan influences some of the most practical parenting aspects of the Phase Project through insights on money management, discipline and responsibility.

Tom (Shef) Shefchunas – Shef is the North Point Ministries multicampus director of middle school, co-author of Lead Small, and my sister’s former physics teacher. (Although he usually omits that last part in his professional bio.) If ever there were a champion for middle school, it’s Tom Shefchunas. No one advocates more passionately or knowledgably for the importance of these phases than Shef. And if he shows up with many more studies to back it up, we might start to think he’s got a point.

Sherry Surratt – Sherry is the visionary CEO and president of MOPS International and the most well-respected leader to consistently refer to Reggie Joiner by a distinct nickname. Before working at MOPS and Leadership Network, Sherry was a teacher and administrator in the Houston Public School System. She intersects with the Phase Project to remind us what is wonderful, messy, and essential about the first years of a child’s life.

Jim Wideman – In 2012 the International Network of Children’s Ministers presented Jim with the first ever “Legacy Award”, and in our book he’s exactly that—a legacy. Jim has personally invested in training over a hundred thousand children’s and student ministry leaders, and we’re pretty sure he remembers most of their names, and phone numbers, and the ages of their children. After 37 years of full-time ministry experience, Jim shares with the Phase Project stories, best practices, and insights all through a very distinct, Jim Wideman, filter.

Like I said, this is an incomplete list.
Expect more bios to follow.

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Kristen Ivy

Executive Director of Messaging & Director of The Phase Project
Kristen earned her Bachelors of Education from Baylor University in 2004 and a Master of Divinity from Mercer University in 2009. Before beginning her career at Orange in 2006, she worked as a high school Biology and English teacher, where she learned firsthand the importance of influencing the next generation. Kristen and her husband Matt are currently parenting through the phases with a Kindergartener (Sawyer), a preschooler (Hensley), and her own “Zero to One” baby (Raleigh).