I’m so excited to be sharing about the Orange Tour. Well, even more than talking ABOUT the Orange Tour, I’m pumped about going with my TEAM (we’re going to San Jose this year!). Last year was a blast.
I went into last year feeling weighed down by a bunch of things that had been going on in my life and church. I remember feeling a little disillusioned about church and ministry. Although, on paper, I knew I was excited to be going on a trip with my awesome teammates, I don’t think I realized what was in store.
We went to the one down near Los Angeles (Glendora, if you want to be specific). Even the drive down was rewarding, since I won our team car game. The first thing we did is a “Meet Me at Chick-Fil-A” close to the Tour venue. There, we were able to interact with family ministry workers from a variety of churches and hear a bunch of insights from peers about how they’re being orange (leaning into that partnership between the “yellow” church and “red” home). Also, it was great to meet with Orange thinkers like Matt McKee (who really challenged me with some ways to partner with parents), Jeremy Zach (whose enthusiasm is contagious), Stephanie Porter (who makes everything more fun), and Sue Miller (who “wrote the book” on children’s ministry). It probably could have been just that lunch at Chick-Fil-A; but, thankfully, there was more.
That night, our team took advantage of the time together to build unity through talking through some of the tough stuff that we had been dealing with as a church. This wasn’t a complaint session. Instead, it really became one of those conversations where each of us stuck his/her hand in the middle of the circle pumped because we knew what we were about and that we had each other’s backs to do what was right.
The next day was the Tour, and it was great. Reggie Joiner shared for most of the day (with a few breakouts) about the importance of what we are doing. This partnership between the church and family is so important. I wouldn’t even try to recapture what he said. I would just say that it was inspirational and informational– and I think that’s what you hope for from these kinds of things.
I don’t know what to tell you beyond that. All I know is that, as a student ministries guy, it’s really easy to concentrate solely on the kids– only talking to the parents when you “have to” (discipline issues, answering questions, or having parent meetings to launch new programs, trips, etc.) To be intentional about partnering with parents is more work. It doubles your “target groups.” But…at the same time, it’s what we are called to do. We’re called to help parents take that next step in owning the responsibilities that God has bestowed upon them as parents.
The ride back from this trip was invaluable as well, as we began to bounce ideas back and forth about implementation. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that radical things are happening in orangeness since that trip.
* Our family ministry team meets every week now to talk about our priorities and about how we can synchronize our messages.
* Our childcare center is partnering with our family ministry team on how they can be orange, better equipping the parents of preschoolers who they serve every day.
* Our youth ministry has invited parents to participate even more in our Sunday night program and taken the time to be intentional about helping them with monthly “parent cue” videos
* Our preschool ministry is revolutionizing how we do baby dedications to get our parents started off right
* Our children’s ministry team has rededicated itself to training small group leaders to understand the importance of communication with parents
* Our senior pastor did a six-week series called “Orange”– so our WHOLE CHURCH could understand what us family ministry wackos were so excited about
* This blog was born. I wanted to create a place where I could bounce ideas around to my own church family and whoever else may see this– to hammer home the importance of orange as a lifestyle.
* My baby (Evie) was born. I’m in the “parent” club now. I’ve been with the “church” folks since I gave my life to Christ; but now I wear both hats.
Raising the next generation to follow Jesus is always going to be “important but not urgent.” There will be other things that compete with this grand task. I’m glad that the Orange Tour is in place to smack some sense into church leaders; and that’s why I’m fully expecting to be blown away this year as well!
So…which one are you going to?