Think Orange Group Blog Project – Chapter 1: Orange-ology

(photo originally uploaded to Flickr by .robbie)

Today we are looking at the first chapter of Think Orange entitled “Orange-ology.” We have two people contributing to this first chapter: Stacey Windover and Amy Dolan.

Stacey Windover is a children’s pastor in Corpus Christi, TX at The Summit Church. In addition to taking care of one husband, three kids, two dogs, a cat, a fish and a frog, she seeks opportunities to introduce Jesus to children and help them grow in their faith. Stacey is also the author of Oh My Stars blog.

Advantage Orange

What is “Orange?” If you are tempted to say a great color, you are only partly correct. Orange is a way of thinking. Although I have believed wholeheartedly in the Orange vision for a couple of years, the vision is becoming even more clear with the first chapter of “Think Orange” by Reggie Joiner.

It’s all about the advantage of combining influences. “When you think orange, you see how two combined influences make a greater impact than just two influences.” The example Reggie used that combined finding homes for children with great photography and art galleries created a powerful movement that caused inquiries about adopting these children to double. Separately, these two entities were both doing a great job, but together, the outcome is remarkable. Yep, that’s Orange!

The church has an even greater potential to become remarkable! The church isn’t just a small percentage of the population, it’s potential is THE population! My heart is racing after writing that! “Think Orange” is about combining the church and the home for the sake of impacting the next generation. The church is represented with yellow and families are represented with red, combining these two influences creates a radical shift in strategy!

Seven years ago, my mind shifted radically. I believe that each year ministry needs to be evaluated. I have always taken the time to ask leaders, volunteers, parents and students their opinion about what is happening in ministry. Well seven years ago I realized that although that’s good, it’s not good enough. I never considered asking our junior high pastor if we were handing him kids that were ready for junior high ministry. I asked. I found out we weren’t. Our JH pastor wanted students to know their testimony before they got to junior high. Simple, but that’s when the light came on! We needed to change our strategy to combine our influence! So we started meeting together on a regular basis. Not just us, we included the senior high pastor and the Christian development pastor as well! Big powerful ORANGE change!

Instead of working on the same thing at the same time with a different strategy, helping children and students grow in their faith, we all began working on the same thing at the same time with the same strategy. It was challenging. It caused us to redesign our programming. It convinced us that partnering with parents could give children and students a better chance. It was worth it. Advantage….ORANGE!!

Amy Dolan is the founder of Lemon Lime Kids as well as the author of the blog by the same name. Amy has worked in children’s spiritual formation and leadership in several different contexts including Willow Creek Church, The Chapel and the Willow Creek Association. You can find out more about Amy and Lemon Lime Kids by clicking here.

i’m thrilled to be a part of the think orange group blog project organized by henry zonio at elemental children’s ministry.

chapter 1: orange-ology

from the first page of this book, it’s clear to the reader that author reggie joiner is passionate about one thing: creating a synergistic approach to influencing faith in the next generation. he writes that both the church and the family are at a crossroads. and that it’s time for a radical change. a new approach. a new mindset. and a new partnership.

his solution: think orange – connecting the church and home.

in this first chapter, reggie joiner paints a picture for the importance of the color orange: the color created when red and yellow (two primary colors) combine efforts. he writes about the importance of creating a third color or a third option, and that most oftentimes, positive change and innovation result when two combined influences merge together.

the two combined influences represent the church and home, and the potential greater impact on the next generation’s faith when the two entities merge efforts rather than continuing to do their own good but separate work. reggie describes the merging this way, “both groups are simultaneously hard at work to build faith in children, but the problem is that they are not working in sync. working on the same thing at the same time is not as effective as working on the same thing at the same time with the same strategy.” (p.24)

even though i was already rather familiar with the think orange concept before reading the book, i really enjoyed reading this first chapter as a reminder that something definitely needs to change. our children and youth continue to leave the church and at times even abandon their faith. i care too much about the spiritual formation of children to be ok with these facts – and i appreciate reggie’s heart and tireless work to change this.

i have always wondered if there could be room for more than 2 combined influences working together for a child’s faith. in my neighborhood, children spend more time at school and participating in sports than attending church and even being at home with their families. i’ve wondered what a partnership with school teachers and athletic coaches along with parents and sunday school teachers would look like – all of a child’s influences working together for the wholistic development of that child. i imagine great things might happen!

now it’s your turn:

1. what comes to mind when you think of the color orange?

2. what might a first step toward a third approach (merging church and home strategies) look like in your church?

You can check out other post in this project:



33 thoughts on “Think Orange Group Blog Project – Chapter 1: Orange-ology

  1. Dave says:

    "i’ve wondered what a partnership with school teachers and athletic coaches along with parents and sunday school teachers would look like – all of a child’s influences working together for the wholistic development of that child."

    Amy – this is where I am currently. I really think this is the next frontier in ministry to children and families. Thanks for this forward thinking!

  2. I read Think Orange last summer and our staff all agreed that we want to be an Orange church! We are currently taking that "first step" at Momentum toward a third approach and I can't wait to see what others are doing! In Jan., we had our first programming meeting between our nursery, preschool and elementary leaders to coordinate our lesson plans. We want to provide parents with one resource with one topic to use at home that will be applicable to all their children, adapted to each age group. Once we have our plans in sync, we will decide what is the best way to partner with the parents. I am anxious to see what others have done that has been successful!

  3. Tom Bump says:

    When I think of Orange, I think LIFE, in full color, bright shining, attracts, and warms. When I think of what the first step might be towards a third approach it's prayer, much prayer, then it's bringing the whole group together children's leaders and youth leaders to pray and seek God on how we might honestly evaluate where we are and be willing to admit we have not done very well to this point.
    As I look at where I sit as the kids pastor, I realize how little I have communicated with the youth staff, and the reverse is also true. We have been operating in separate visions, and physically in separate parts of the building. That has to change!! May God help us. ( I really need to start talking to them about attending Orange conference together. I've never been and I don't think our youth pastor has even read the book.

  4. Emily says:

    I think the first step toward a third approach might be taking the focus off of programs for kids and putting the focus on relationships with families. I don't think we can get parents to buy in to the idea that they have a role in their child's spiritual development until we have relationships with the parents.

    • Nick Blevins says:

      I agree. That is the hard work of partnering with parents because developing relationships is more difficult than developing resources or programs. We're going to spend some time as an entire children's ministry team brainstorming how we can improve/add to our partnering strategy.

      • henryjz says:

        I know there are many others in the same boat. One big part of it is simply befriending families… finding out who they are, how they are and showing them you care about them.

  5. Henry Zonio says:

    I, too, love Reggie and his passion to get everyone on the same page. I wonder, though, if some ministry leaders are overwhelmed by the idea of doing things like streamlining content and such. There seems to be a huge step from being ministry silos (not communicating with each other) to everyone meeting together and strategizing on reaching family together. What are some steps some of you who are at the Orange end of the spectrum have taken to get to where you are.

    For me, I know it begins with simply stepping outside of my office and touching base with the others on staff in other areas of ministry here. I first, care about THEM and THEIR LIVES. I try and see how I can HELP THEM in their ministries. I work on earning the privilege of partnering with them.

  6. Kendra says:

    I love your comments about the schools and sports. My kids are in a Christian school that my parents direct, take karate from my brother in law at Disciple Martial Arts, and my daughter takes dance from a Christian dance company. For a long time before this, my husband and I wrestled with "taking our kids out of the world" and thus removing their opportunity to be salt and light. Not now we've taken in two foster kids and we've found that bringing the world into our family has been a much better environment to teach them about living like Jesus than just sending them to public schools and calling that good. We are just in the beginning stages of it, but whatever color this would be called is awesome so far.

  7. Robert says:

    We are going to try partnering with the middle and high schools in our city and county. We have offered to send in volunteers each week to work with the students in the classroom. We will be "aides" to the teachers. We are not exactly sure how all of this will play out but we are excited about this step. If this goes well, I foresee us partnering with the elementary schools in the future.

  8. amy dolan says:

    what fantastic first steps – i love the conversation!

    dave – i would love to discuss further how we can take a first step towards a wholistic development perspective for children. do you have any ideas how that would practically look?

  9. I read think orange right after it came out. I love Reggie and his heart and passion for bringing the church and families together so that kids and families over the long run will not abandon their faith. The ultimate Orange experience at my church would look like families saying the same thing at home that we are here at RCC and the parents truly stepping into their ultimate role of the spiritual heads of there households. In my suburban church it seems like families are way to busy for church at different times throughout the year. So our youth pastor and myself are flowing with that and offering multiple resources (not at the church) on a monthly basis that will engage families in spiritual conversations so they can have what I call a mini-van experience for themselves.

    • henryjz says:

      I love the use of "minivan experience!" I commend you for working where your parents are at instead of trying to shoehorn them into your ideal. I think sometimes we get so caught up on an ideal that we have, we end up discouraging ourselves and parents from walking with their children on a spiritual journey.

  10. Wendy says:

    I am wondering if it is possible to engage the parents in multiple ways to give them options that fit their lives. Using Alan's great idea for "minivan experiences" as well as other options. Using the same basic idea and just adapting it to different resources.

    I REALLY love the idea of bringing it outside the church and into the kids' everyday lives with involving schools and sports activities. I have heard several really great ideas including adopting a school and partnering with teachers by helping in class, providing supplies, etc.

  11. Corey says:

    Orange = Warmth, I think a natural first step to merging church and home might be getting the rest of the staff to see and truly value it's importance. And what better way to do that than bring them to Orange2010.

  12. Cathy says:

    I'm loving the conversation here. In my prior ministry as CP I began to realize that if we really wanted and desired to reach the next generation then our efforts in CM needed to be teamed with our student ministry. I didn't know anything about The Orange strategy at the time but felt that we (CM) needed to have conversations/collaboration with our student ministry so we could know "what" IT is that he desired to see in our kiddos before they transitioned to student ministry. At the time we weren't thinking about the parents involvement so I guess you could say we were "yellow"…HA! So for us it started with us (children's pastor and student pastor) having numerous conversations/collaboration in hopes of making a greater impact for the future spiritual growth of the children who would be crossing over to student ministry. Through this process I realized that if we were getting our kids ready for middle school ministry then we needed to really up our game when it came to our 4th and 5th graders. From this point forward, my world in CM forever changed! Through this collaborative process we soon experienced exponential growth with our 4th and 5th graders. We both saw and felt the value of our two worlds coming together and knew we were moving in the right direction with the future of our ministries.

    Now that I have read the book and have attended The Orange Conference just last year and most recently The Orange Tour in Dallas, Tx….I'm so freakin pumped about Orange-ology! In my prior ministry the missing link was the RED….AH!!! So…now that I have joined another team, I'm really excited that we are definitely going Orange and the collaboration process within our team is well under way! I'm super excited to be meeting with our student pastor tomorrow to begin our conversations/collaboration as the NextGen team and start building the plan as to how and what this will look like. Through this blog project, there are some good ideas already being shared! I like the thought of teaming up with the schools because the teachers/coaches, etc… spend many more hours with our kids then we get to in our ministries! I would love to unpack this idea some more!

    • henryjz says:

      It sounds like people are liking the idea of somehow partnering with schools/sports as well. Is there anyone doing that right now (other than a Bible club… not that those are bad… but those are the more obvious)? Please share, we'd love to hear what you are doing!

  13. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Henry Zonio, Henry Zonio, Henry Zonio, Matt McKee, d_w_scott and others. d_w_scott said: RT @henryjz: Think Orange Group Blog Project – Chapter 1: Orange-ology […]

  14. Lindsey says:

    I've been thinking about praying a lot about this "Think Orange" book. I've often tried to include parents in the ministry, but only if they came to the church already. Sure if guest parents showed up for a special function I would make my way over (often with high anxiety) to say hi and thank them for coming. However, I never really sought them out in any other way. We're starting an Appleseeds program (mentoring group for preteen girls) and one church member encouraged me to call the parents of one of the girls. She comes regularly to our Wednesday night program, but her parents have never attended. I called and talked with her dad about the program and said we'd love to have her. It was a very pleasant conversation, leaving me to wonder why I had been putting it off so long. What is it about "outside" parents that leaves me shaking in my shoes? (continued in next post)

  15. Lindsey says:

    Why have I become so accustumed to taking the easy way out? Where is my heart for outreach, for SEEKING and saving the lost. I'd rather just wait for the lost to wander into the church first, and then I'd be happy to help save them! Somehow, I just don't think that's what Christ had in mind. I hope this book will help change my perspective, my motivation, and cause me not to be content to wait around for the lost to find me.

    • henryjz says:

      Isn't it funny how we tend to get worked up about things, and then when we do them, it doesn't seem so bad. I'm glad you are taking steps to reach out more!

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