This week 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. 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.
#3 Reactivate the Family
When you combine two influences you build an everyday faith.
Reactivating the family is making a choice to enlist parents to act as partners in the spiritual formation of their own children (and yes…that is in the book.) This is so much easier said than done. It’s been a challenge to get parents plugged into areas that they’ve never been plugged into before. The church I work at is 46 years old, and while it is growing and thriving in our city; it is also traditional in many ways. I have children in our ministry that are 3rd generation at our church. Their grandparents grew up and were baptized here, and their parents were, and the whole family expects that they will be as well. That is so many different kinds of wonderful, but it brings challenges. What kind of challenges? The great challenge of changing set-in-stone expectations.
This element of the Orange strategy is the one that gets me the most excited. I think it’s because while I wear a yellow hat of a church staffer, I also live daily with the red hat of a parent. I can remember being asked in a job interview once, “Why do you want to work with kids?” My response was that I’m a parent, and I couldn’t think of a better way to help my own kids fall in love with Jesus. Most all that I do as a Children’s pastor is rooted out of a love for my family, and my hope that I can somehow help my children see God more clearly.
If you are a reader of my blog, you can see some of the small things I’ve done to reactivate the family at my church. I’ve taken some small baby steps with my event planning, baptism, and have changed the Child Dedication experience. What I did was start looking for all the existing elements that families were already somewhat engaging with me, and then meet parents there with a spiritual fierceness. For example, I knew that we dedicated children every 3 months, and always had 20+ families participate. So I revamped what the process was to dedicate your child, and have been able to now dedicate children (and parents) that have completed a short Essence of Family (again, it’s in the book) pre-requisite class. The feedback has been great, and we’re already signing up people for our next one in February! I also took those natural moments in a child’s life that their parents reach out to me, like baptism and salvation experiences, and worked hard to meet parents there as well. I’ve created tools that parents can use to help them talk through these wonderful times with their children, and made myself available to assist in any way possible.
In my situation, I’m working to prove myself faithful to parents in these already existing roads. I know that if I can be faithful in these areas, then God will open their eyes to many more opportunities down the road.
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!