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Why the Orange Change?

We’ve made a huge change in the past few months, as it relates to how we program for our Children’s Ministry.  The change was simply a major shift in curriculum, but it goes beyond that to something deeper as well.

For the past 2+ years we have used Elevate in our Elementary environment, and for the past year haves used Elevate Jr. in our Early Childhood environments.  We’ve used Elevate in just about every combination of use, from 100% videos, to only small video segments.  We’ve tweaked the heck out of that stuff, and it served us well while we transitioned from a stale ministry to kids to something resembling a living, moving ministry at Trinity Church.  I think many great things about the Elevate curriculum package, and have gone on and on in the past about how much I admire what they do for churches with their curriculum.  I’m not going to get into the question of, “Why not Elevate?”, as much as look at the question of, “Why did you choose 252 Basics and First Look?”

I’ve had my eye on the curriculum offered through reThink for a few years now, having attended the past 3 Orange Conferences and getting my fill of the overall vision and strategy behind it.  I have friends that have used it almost exclusively and others that have shared it’s positives (and negatives) with me.  I felt that we had to wait until the right time to make the move, as it would have to coincide with another volunteer effort to help make it work.

In August of 2010 we moved to 252 Basics, after a long two month process of recruiting Small Group Leaders.  We’ve done small groups for 3 years, but only at the end of a large group time.  We used 252 Basics to help move us to a Small Group -> Large Group -> Small Group model.  This simply means the kids arrive in their small groups, exit to a large group worship environment, then return to the small group where they will be retrieved by their parents after church dismisses.  This was a HUGE change for us, but something that has worked almost flawlessly for the past 7 weeks.  I’m proud of our staff for making the change happen.

In September of 2010 we moved to First Look, after reThink released the updated Wonder! Look at God’s Story DVD’s.  It’s a funny story actually, we were actively looking for Early Childhood storytellers and thinking we’d start First Look sometime in January 2011.  But after seeing the Wonder DVD’s, we decided to push our date up.  That along with a great 50% offer that was on the table back in July and we were all over it!

Here is what we have liked about both changes:

  • The biggest thing we’ve loved is the overarching theme of the Orange Strategy.  You’ve read Think Orange, right?
  • It’s so easy to edit.  There is simply nothing so easy to edit and dissect at First Look and 252 Basics.
  • So many options to work with.  It can be a little overwhelming, but if you give yourself a month to familiarize yourself with the mountain of content…it proves that there is something for almost any setup and environment.
  • The video elements for both 252 and First Look have been much improved over the years.  We feel they are a great fit, most weeks.  I’ll get into this more tomorrow, when I share how we use 252 in our environments

The biggest reason we decided to make the change to 252 Basics and First Look is that as a team we felt that it offered us the best opportunity to present a vision to parents of what the church could mean in the lives of their children.  Very simply, that is it!

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. Cynthia · July 22, 2011

    Hi, I just found your blog and would like to know more about the negatives you and your friends have encountered in using this curriculum. We are considering using this too and I’m really excited about it. Thanks so much.-Cynthia

    • Jonathan Cliff · July 22, 2011

      Cynthia //

      Honestly, the only downside we’ve found on the curriculum; is that it does take quite a bit of editing to make it fit our church.  However, I’d also say that we use it because it’s easier to edit that most other curriculums.

      Does that make sense?

      • Cynthia · August 4, 2011

         Thanks for the reply, Jonathan. It does make sense. If we do use this, I believe we may run into the same issue. But I do hope that our church will give it a try. I appreciate your insights and do hope you keep writing about your experiences with this.

  2. Lindsey Baker-Whitney · October 30, 2011

    We are thinking about switching to 252 as well.  I just had my “orientation” call and cannot believe how great the curriculum is!  The parent newsletter, the small group training, the videos.  I was so excited to see it and can’t wait to start using it!!