For the summer, my church has been doing a series called One Prayer that comes out of LifeChurch.tv. This Sunday it’s my turn to address “big church.” The main thrust of this series is, “If you were to pray one prayer for the church at large, what would it be?” Because of my heart of children and families, I was assigned the topic of God making the church a place where families can grow.
As I’ve been thinking and preparing this message, I wasn’t sure how to approach it. I didn’t want to simply entitle it “Make Us… Family-Friendly” or “Make Us… Kid-Friendly.” Those just sounded too hokey and didn’t grab me. As I started thinking about my take on family ministry and my ideas on family-friendly vs. family-centric, my thoughts went to what Reggie Joiner and his group is up to with the Orange Conference and the Orange Leaders Movement. I’ve been cynical and hesitant to jump on the Orange bandwagon that seems to be gaining quite a bit of steam. While I think what ReThink has done is high quality and beneficial to some, I am not completely sold on how they “do” their principles. What they do works for them and a number of churches, but it is not THE way to do stuff. What impresses me the most is their philosophy behind the whole Orange concept: combining the influences at church with those at home to make a greater impact on the family rather than each of the influences working alone. Thus, they get Orange as the name of their movement: the two colours, red and yellow, are great colours individually, but combined they produce an even more vibrant colour… orange!
The main points of my message are:
- we are all created for community and families (whatever they look like) play a big role in community so we are all responsible for helping families to grow and be “fully alive”
- we have to work as a Church to make families feel welcome in everything from attitudes of greeters to how signage is done to making it easy for families to find what they need
- realize that families need to be encouraged, equipped and empowered to grow together in a positive way; guilting parents DOESN’T help; set families up for success
- we all can play a part in helping families grow whether we have children or not: involvement in student and children’s ministries, becoming surrogate cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents to families, etc.
Becoming a church where families can grow and be transformed taking part in impacting the world with the message and life of Jesus takes more than parenting classes or good curriculum. It takes realizing that we all play a part in building families.
Families cannot do it alone. It takes the Body of Christ to come alongside families and working together to build a community of Christ followers who go out making a difference in the world. It takes us being more orange in our thinking.
Here’s the video of my talk: