Think Orange Group Blog Project – Conclusion: Orange-ality

(photo originally uploaded to Flickr by stirwise)

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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”.
  6. 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.
  7. 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:


18 thoughts on “Think Orange Group Blog Project – Conclusion: Orange-ality

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  7. Barbara Graves says:

    AWESOME! I have loved all these posts, but this one really gives me a guide to somewhat compare where we are. I tend to be an impatient person, and want to launch this NOW, or better yet, LAST WEEK! It's hard when it seems to take so long to get everything clear, so that everyone is on board. I know that is crucial to this being successful. I'm encouraged to hear this 3 month time frame that David mentioned seemed a bit short. I don't feel like I'm dropping the ball if I can't get everyone on board and going by the end of the month!!!

  8. Cara Martens says:

    I think your comment about making a culture is right on! That does take time– the Think Orange Handbook has some more practical steps, assessments, questions, activities– you name it– to help you process with your team, other staff and key leaders. You can check it out at Amazon…

  9. Cara says:

    PS- Thanks for hosting this- your site is very well done. I'm learning a lot here.

    • henryjz says:

      It was my pleasure. I believe that Think Orange has a lot to offer the children's ministry conversation, thus my motivation to do this. It's been fun watching all the interactions.

  10. tom bump says:

    Barbara, I am with you! I want this to happen NOW! I'm mean after all it only took God 6 days to create the earth so why can I change my church that quickly! I loved this post as it did give some perspective that the chapter did not. I wish this dialogue could continue with those who are farther along the journey giving advice and input for those of us who are just starting out. I understand nothing is one size fits all and we can't copy n paste anything. I am really hoping to bring others into the process, I'm buying some workbooks and think Orange books for my leadership team and a few parents, We are going to start meeting and then if God provides the funds, I'll try to make it down to Orange Conference so I can dialogue some more!! What an exciting journey!
    Thanks Henry for hosting this!!

  11. Kendra says:

    This is all information that would have been useful a few years ago! 🙂 (hehe) Our path was insane too. And I use the past tense loosely because even though I would say we've launched, we are just revising and updating and tweaking all along the way. Thanks for sharing a little of your journey.

  12. Dave says:

    Tom, I can't tell you enough how important the Orange Conference is for broadening your vision, and even helping you cast your vision for your church's staff, parents, and volunteers. It may seem like an information overload at first, but it's worth it. And you'll make some great connections with experienced folks who can help guide you through this process. It's great.

    In the mean time, keep tuned in – this community has some great #kidmin folks who will share anything they can!

  13. Tom Bump says:

    Thanks, I sure have benefited from this forum of reviews and thoughts from others. Its my prayer to go to Orange and yes, i'm sure it will be a bit overwhelming, and yet, because I believe God is in this, I know it will be very clear on what he wants us to do here. I've been in ministry for a long time and have always tried to develop "Orange" thinking without even realizing that is what I was doing. Now that I've got the book and can see a clearer picture, of what God has laid on my heart along time ago. I only wish it didn't take so long for me to figure some of this out.
    I look forward to interacting more with all of my fellow ministers.

  14. Marcos Figueroa says:

    Hey Henry, I just stumbled onto your blog. I love it. I guess I'm a newbie to this whole Orange…phenomenon! Actually, God has been preparing me and "prodding" me in this direction for some time. 🙂 I noticed that as your team was in it's promotion stage (I'm sure the decision was made long before this stage) you mentioned that you "abandoned" Sunday School for your kids and most of your adults… I'm curious as to why? Please keep in mind…I've ordered all the material, and the "Think Orange" book and the supplemental workbook, but haven't received them…so obviously haven't read them…so if the answer is in there…I haven't seen it yet! 🙂 Thanks so much! I'm so glad for the huge support base out there. Marcos Figueroa

  15. […] Think Orange Group Blog Project – Conclusion: Orange-ality […]

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