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Refine the Message

Yesterday I started laying out how I have worked the 5 Elements of Orange into my ministry strategy.   Catchup on my earlier post: #1 Integrated Strategy. 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.    

#2 Refine the Message

When you combine two influences you amplify what’s important

To refine the message means that you work as a team to craft core truths into engaging, relevant, and memorable experiences (that’s in the book!)   I can remember years ago, at another church; attempting to teach through the bible in a 2 year period.   I don’t know why I was attempting it, but nonetheless I was doing it.   I was rolling along, then I hit the story of Absalom’s Rebellion.   I have the coloring sheet of Absolom hanging from a tree by his hair, with a spear through his gut permanently seared into my memory.   This was not a highlight of my time there.

As I’ve matured as a teacher and a leader I’ve come to see the truth in the following statements:

  • All scripture is equally inspired
  • All scripture is not equally important
  • All scripture is not equally applicable to every stage of life

Knowing this has released me to focus in on what I really want kids to learn.   At our church we are slowly transitioning into using the resources available through ReThink, and in the meantime I have found myself thankful that most curriculum developers are starting to see the value in refining the message.   The folks at Group Publishing, Elevate, and many others are working to refine the message that we teach kids.

At our church, we have been teaching in a memorable way for about 2 years.   How do I know?   Because kids actually remember what they’re learning!   I can remember moving to a more refined message for Early Childhood children this past year, and I had parents asking me, “What are you doing different?   My kids are repeating their main points all week long!”   How refreshing, and convicting at the same time, huh?

It is now my goal to see every word that I speak to our kids and families be easy to communicate and even easier to understand.   While at the same time enjoying the depth and creativity that scripture affords me as a teacher.

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.


  1. Anthony Prince · January 18, 2010

    aside from your great thoughts here, thanks for sharing the coloring sheet!

    any bets someone does a google search for an “absolom coloring sheet”, finds your post, and uses it in Sunday school.

    I would venture to say it’ll happen at least 3 times.

    .-= Anthony Prince ´s last blog ..Orange Week: Refine the Message =-.

  2. Kenny · January 18, 2010

    I would like to get my hands on that coloring sheet!
    .-= Kenny ´s last blog ..Orange Week: Integrated Strategy Recap =-.