At Messiah, we are fond of saying that our church is “a place where kids want to bring their parents to church.” We know that a crucial part of making that sentiment a reality is a vibrant Sunday morning Children’s Ministry that compliments our powerful worship services.
When our Children’s Ministry Team gathered in Spring of 2015 to examine our current Children’s Ministry practices, we realized that our programming had not experienced significant change or retooling in over a decade. That’s not to say that our programming was outdated or poor – in fact, we felt our program was quite good judging from feedback that we were receiving from families. Our team still felt a bit restless – a feeling that there were things we could be doing to improve and better meet the needs of families. It didn’t take us long to agree that a fairly significant overhaul was in order. At the outset, we established a few core principles on which we would build our new approach to Children’s Ministry:
- Any strategy that we implement must connect kids to Jesus and be biblically- based.
- Any strategy that we implement must use instructional theories and methods that meet kids where they are developmentally.
- Any strategy that we implement must emphasize and involve the child’s family.
Sound easy? Not so much. As anyone who has ever volunteered to teach kids on a Sunday morning can tell you, it is difficult to find resources that are biblically sound and engaging for the child. We were adding another layer of complication on top of that by insisting that we involve the family in the teaching process.
After considerable effort researching and talking with other ministries, we found a resource that spoke our language and met our needs (quite frankly, exceeded them). The reThink Group, founded by Reggie Joiner, is the champion for a children’s ministry strategy called ORANGE. The ORANGE strategy is best explained with the following graphic:
Red is the love of a family. Yellow is the light of the church. Red + Yellow = ORANGE…a place where the two major influencers of a child’s faith formation come together.
We think that most parents want the same thing that our church wants for each child: to have a deeper relationship with Jesus, to make smarter and wiser decisions, and to develop stronger relationships with others. Instead of the church doing what it has always been doing and families doing what they do to teach kids separate from the church, we want both the church and families to partner together to teach the faith to our kids. The church and families teaching from the same page…can you imagine the influence that that might have on a child?
I found the following information from Reggie Joiner very helpful in understanding the foundation behind the ORANGE strategy.
Things Every Kid Needs:
A REALLY BIG GOD they can trust no matter what. Kids should grow up knowing that God is big enough to handle whatever they may face.
SOMEONE ELSE who believes what they believe. Kids need friends who will encourage them to grow in their faith.
ANOTHER VOICE saying the same things parents say. As children grow older it becomes more important to have other adults in their lives as spiritual mentors and leaders.
UNCOMMON SENSE to help them make wise choices. God’s point of view and His truth should become the filter for how kids view and make decisions.
NOSY PARENTS who know where their kids are spiritually. Kids need parents who will be intentional about spending time together as a family and staying actively involved in their spiritual growth.
In Part Two of this series, I will further explain our new strategy and the changes that it inspired us to make in our Children’s Ministry.
Bryan Blackford is Messiah’s Director of Ministry Programs and helps churches around the country grow their ministry (blackfordsolutions.org). He writes here about ministry leadership and church administration.