Today we are concluding our group blogging project through Think Orange with some steps to Orange-ify. The contributor for this review is David Scott. According to David’s blog profile, he is a husband, father, computer-geek, and former pastor. His goal is to live simply, give generously and love personally. David is the author of The Gospel Playboy blog.
Steps to Orange-ify
When I looked over the “Steps” section at the back of “Think Orange”, I was a little taken aback. One page. One measly page of seven steps. Thinking back over our church’s experience implementing Orange philosophies over the past six years, I thought, “there’s room for a whole other book here”.
But as I let Carey Nieuwhof’s section rattle around in my head for a while, I realized there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for implementing Orange concepts. Every church is different just as every family is different. I can tell you what worked or didn’t work in my context, but you’ll have to look at your situation and plan accordingly.
Carey’s points are broad, but appropriately so:
- Discover: This is a time of dreaming, exploring what connecting parents and the church might look like in your context. It’s a time to ask questions and pray. For us, this started with a group of parents who stumbled on Barna’s “Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions”. It absolutely changed our paradigm. A group of 10 or so parents and staff members met weekly to flesh out what it would mean for our church to change from “children’s ministry” to partnering with parents. It was a challenging process, but it was one of the best things I’ve ever been a part of.
- Define an action plan: Now that you’ve dreamed of what you want, how do you get there? What’s your strategy? What has to change in order for you to achieve “victory”, the achievement of your vision? Our group went on a fact finding mission, looking at how other churches were implementing family ministry. We sent a team to Northpoint’s “Grow Up” conference to explore their strategy. We looked at the things that were non-negotiable about our overall church and discipleship vision. Fortunately for us, a small church, defining change was relatively easy. Our entire staff was on board, willing to do whatever needed to be done. The big question was, Will everyone else be willing? We did our best to hammer out the details before presenting our plan.
- Which brings us to Communicate. Your core team has come together to dream and plan, you’ve hammered out a strategy, but now it’s time to cast the vision for your church and families. You listen, you adjust, and then you communicate some more. This communication and feedback is ongoing. You have to recast that vision so that you don’t lose momentum. We did this by sending a team to each of our small groups to personally cast the vision in a setting that allowed for close feedback. We had some great questions, some of which we hadn’t thought of or explored.
- Reorganize: Budgets, staff, competing programs, and even locations and times may need to be changed in order to accommodate your action plan. A great point Carey makes here is “Don’t just think addition, think subtraction.” That’s huge. Often attempts at family ministry become an add-on program to an already busy church. When that happens, volunteers, budgets, and staff are stretched, and competition for resources sets in. Simplify. It’s OK to kill a few programs.
- Develop: Time to train your staff and volunteers, not just new skill sets, but also passion. You have to show your people how they fit into the big picture. It may not seem like a big job to be a part of the “sign-in” crew for the family production, but you can develop the vision in your volunteers to help them see what a critical role they play in making children and families feel welcome in what should be one of the best experiences of the week. Make sure you plan your training strategy so that when your people begin taking their place in the vision they feel confident in what they’re doing, so that they can “win”.
- Promote: For some churches, “Orange” may be scary. It may be a huge change in philosophy. We abandoned Sunday school for our kids and most of our adults for our new Orange platform. (Man, some people take that personally!) So you have to help the wider audience, both your church members and the general community, understand what you’re doing and why. Be creative. Dream. Find ways to communicate your passion for what is about to happen, being sure to include your audience in how they fit into the picture.
- Finally, Launch. How do you know when it’s the right time to launch? I’m not sure you can ever know. It may be too early or too late. There’s a magical balance between being under prepared and overly prepared. It’s your job as a leader to make the call. It will be scary, but through prayer, preparation and wisdom, lead your team. “Think Orange” makes a great point about listening and watching. Especially at the beginning, you’ll see lots of opportunities for change: things you didn’t think about, things you thought would work but didn’t. You’ll hear of strategies that worked better than you could have imagined that you can use elsewhere. Watch, listen, and change.
The time between our first committee meeting and the time of our launch was a whirlwind. In retrospect, we probably launched too soon. We had a three months to implement steps 2-7. That includes creating and communicating a strategy, building out environments, recruiting and training volunteers, re-staffing, etc. It was insane. What I can say is that the passion generated by our small group of parents during the “Discover” phase was so intense that it made the implementation and launch manageable. We were a part of something huge that God was doing for kids, for families, for our church, and for our community. Six years later we continue to grow and change our ministry, but the growth and change in our kids has been incredible.
What phase of implementation are you in? If you’ve already launched, what are some of the experiences you had in implementation? Where did you fail? What worked for you? Share your experience with us.
You can check out the other posts in this project:
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 2
- Chapter 3
- Chapter 4
- Chapter 5
- Chapter 6
- Chapter 7
- Chapter 8
- Chapter 9
- Chapter 10