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Elevate Community

Yesterday I started laying out how I have worked the 5 Elements of Orange into my ministry strategy.   Catchup on my earlier posts: #1 Integrated Strategy and #2 Refine the Message and #3 Reactivate the Family.   Please bear in mind, that I am the Children’s Ministry Pastor, and bear no overall job responsibility for the other Next Generation ministries at my church.   Currently I am responsible for birth through the 5th grade, and am trying my best to implement Orange from the bottom up.

#4 Elevate Community

When you combine two influences you increase the odds

Elevating community is about connecting everyone to a caring leader and a consistent group of peers (do I need to tell you?   That’s in the book too!) Currently I have a 2nd grade 7 year old, a 6 year old Kindergartner, and a 4 year old that is still more than a year away from Kindergarten.   Right now they come to me for EVERYTHING!   They can’t (or won’t) pour the milk on their cereal without my help.   Sometimes, they just come up to me and ask if they can cuddle for a while.   They always say “I Love You” before bedtime, and almost all their school drawings consist of their father doing fantastical superhero things.   Right now I’m the king of the house, and I like it.   However, it will not always be this way.   I know that eventually my kids are going to need somebody else, and if I don’t start to play an active role in who that is then I will be in for a hard time.

Like many churches, we also employ small groups in our Elementary environments.   Really I like to think of them as “smaller groups”, as some of them aren’t very small at all.   However, we have seen the benefits of consistent relationship in the lives of our kids at church and the leaders that lead them.   A few years ago we moved to an every week commitment from our leaders working with kids.   It wasn’t easy, and I still get complaints from the complaining types.   However, it was one of the best things I ever did.   Immediately I had invested leaders working in the lives of kids.   The every week leaders knew the kids names, they remembered birthdays, and the kids had another adult (besides a parent) that cared about them.   A big win for everyone!

As a parent wearing a red hat, I’ve worked hard to ensure my children have these other adults in their life.   We point out the adults around us that are living lives that glorify Christ, we let their small group leaders know about sporting events, we invite them to birthday parties, and recently we invited many of my oldest sons small group leaders to share in a baptism celebration.   It was a spiritual moment to have my living room full of everyone that has poured into my son’s life, along with his grandparents and his mother and father praying a prayer of thankfulness for the life-change decision he had made to follow Christ.   I think it might have even been a spiritual moment for the adults invited.   I hope it opened their eyes to how much we value them, and I know it exposed to my son how much all these people cared about his future.   You can read about my thoughts on this day HERE or read what my wife said about widening the circle of influence HERE.

As a leader I believe that one of the greatest gifts I can give the parents of my church is a community of influence for their children.

If you’re not making plans to attend the Orange Conference in Atlanta this Spring, then start making them now.   I’ll be there, and many more important people as well.   Come see if an Orange way of thinking can help you integrate strategy with your entire Next Generation ministries at your church!

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.