Traffic cones. I'm one; and, if you're a leader in your church, you're one.
Reggie Joiner give us this wonderfully orange picture in "Think Orange" about how each ministry is really a traffic cone for their congregation. From the cradle to the grave we either strategically or inadvertently created a path of cones to what we would consider to be spiritual maturity. We can all agree that people (especially parents) need to know where they're going, right?
I’ve been at churches where it was inadvertent. Each ministry was kind of scrambling to see who could get what dates on the calendar, what rooms to use, and the most promotional time. Everyone was looking out for themselves (or at least their own area).
I can’t say I’ve ever been a part of a church that was strategic. Now, before you think that I’m being judgmental towards any of my former churches– I’m not. Guess which part wasn’t strategic in all those churches. Me.
I was a lone cone. I was doing things my own way. I had mentalities like this…
“Let me get that date on the calendar before anyone else takes it.”
“We all know (statistically) that youth ministry is the most important ministry.”
“I hope the children’s ministry doesn’t screw things up for us.”
“Well, I hope that these kids will survive ‘big church’ after being in such an awesome youth ministry.”
I would scramble to get my way on my island in my ministry.
The Orange Philosophy is breaking me of that.
That’s one of the main reasons that I’m looking forward to the Orange Conference (and even, later on today, “Meet Me at Chick-Fil-A (cough…Teazer).” It breaks me out of my lone cone mentality.
I remember when I went to the Grow Up conference years ago. I remember thumbing through the program and instantly keying in on the “student ministry voices” and kind of rolling my eyes at how many children’s ministry people there were. I was young and cocky, and I didn’t think I had anything to learn from any other segment of the church. Chances are, over the course of my ministry lifetime (about 15 years), I’ve missed out on tremendous lessons from the great children’s ministry workers that I’ve had the pleasure of working with.
But that’s just not the way I was taught to do ministry. Youth ministry always seemed to me to be “big church only cooler.” And children’s ministry was so, well, “child”-ish.
Reggie has challenged my thinking. The idea that there is a strategy from birth to college (and quite honestly, one that work well for adults too) based on impressing principles into our kids in a unified, strategic fashion (wonder, discovery, passion) is what makes Orange unique.
I’m not interested in being a lone cone anymore.
I’m not interested in snatching random curriculums de jour in order to find the magic bullet for youth ministry. I am working with the preschool coordinator (Jocelyn), the children’s ministry coordinator (Jeanette), and the middle school coordinator (Scott) at my church to line up our cones in a way that makes sense and maximizes all of our efforts.
That’s why I’m stoked about The Orange Conference. What about you?
My wife and I were talking about this blog the other day, and she helped me to realize something that I hadn’t thought about. [She’s good at that. Watching my blind spots.]
Does calling my blog “Orange Dad” maybe smack of arrogance, like I think that I’ve got it all figured out and that I need to share my supreme knowledge with the world?
I guess it’s fair to talk about what I think of myself in all of this.
1. I am completely a rookie. If there was an Orange Dads team, I would be carrying other people’s luggage and getting them donuts. I have had a child for only three months; and, even then, I’m not even sure I’m doing that great of a job.
2. I am borrowing an idea. This is an interesting thought because orange’s not something that I came up with myself. I’ve got to give Reggie Joiner the tip of the hat for his amazing book, “Think Orange” for that. On a deeper level, I know that it’s really God’s idea to utilize the family and the church for His glory.
3. I am at a church that is learning how to be orange. I’m not even at the most super-orange church in the world. I know that. I lead the middle school, high school, and college ministry at my church– and, in all of those, we’re not even close to being truly orange. Children’s ministry here is great. But they’re growing. And the macro vision of our church for being orange is in development too.
I am a rookie parent.
This isn’t even my idea.
And I’m not even that great at the church side of things.
Why should you read my blog?
Well, if you just read it, I think that’s the problem right there! I don’t want people to just read it. My original vision was to create a community where people could talk about what they’re doing, what’s working, what’s not working, etc.
I’d love for all-star dads from all walks of life share their stories of how they’re doing what they’re doing. They don’t have to be perfect or work at a church. They just have to be willing to open up the conversation.
I’d love for church workers to talk about what they’re doing to bridge the gap between the church and the family. This part of the blog is super-underdeveloped. The most read posts on here are the ones in which I tell “cute Evie stories.” :-) That’s cool. I’m glad. But I want to examine both sides of this equation because I’m on both sides of the equation. I’m a dad, and I’m a church leader.
So…hang in there.
And know that I don’t think I know everything (or much…or even anything!). I’m just trying to honor God and start a conversation. I’m so stoked about the Orange Conference because I know that more and more conversations are going to stem from that!
If you’ve heard amazing stories of orange dads and orange churches, I would love for a light to go off in your head where you think, “Ooh, I bet Paul would love to share that story.” Because you’d be right. I would.
I smell orange moments. I see them. Something jerks at my heartstrings during those times, and I usually weep because it’s beautiful. Yesterday there were a bunch of those moments on a Sunday morning in church.
It was baptism Sunday, and some special things happened. First, we got to hear the story of a young man who gave his life to Christ after being a meth addict. The part that was highlighted, italicized, and bolded in his testimony (for me), though, was that he ended up sharing his faith with his boy. Orange Dad.
After the “scheduled” baptisms, Pastor Mitch invited those up who felt like it was the time for them to be baptized too. Many came forward, but there were two situations that stuck out to me.
One, the mother of a small, small child came up. Now, of course, I’m nervously thinking, “Uh oh, this kid is a little too young to even comprehend baptism,” but it turned into a beautiful moment. In a “let the children come” mindset, Mitch instead took the opportunity to have a spontaneous child dedication in which the church body raised their hands as a sign of blessing towards this young boy and the young mom who had brought him up there. All I could see in this moment was a mom wanting what’s best for her son and a church wanting what’s best for a family. Orange Mom. Orange Pastor.
Finally, and this is the one where the tears started to flow out of my eyes. Keep in mind that I was already a little misty because I had been holding Evie in the back and whispering to her about Jesus throughout the baptisms and worship. Anyway, I see a younger (but not too young) boy pop up; and head towards the stage with his mom and dad. I love this family. As the parents of a tweenager, I have seen them work alongside the middle school ministry in helping their daughter grow in the areas of wonder, discovery, and passion. Implanted in my mind is when we played a modification of “The Newlywed Game” on a Sunday night in which a parent was matched up with their teenager to answer questions about how well they knew one another. Anyway, this dad won with his daughter; and it was hilarious. So…this was fun to watch.
To see my friend fight through tears as he stood in the baptismal (ok…fine, we use a horse trough) and affirmed his son’s faith in Jesus, well, it was awesome. The church created the moment, but my friend has walked with his son through his faith journey enough to know that his son was ready to go. Orange Church. Orange Dad.
After they dried off, they passed me in the back of the sanctuary. First, I gave the little guy manly “knucks” to tell him that he was a wise young guy. Then my friend whispered to me, “Yeah, the last time we had spontaneous baptisms [his daughter and older son] wanted to go forward; but we didn’t know if they were ready. Two months later they were baptized. [My wife] and I wondered why we waited. So, this time around, when [our youngest] said ‘I want to go up,’ we knew it was time.”
I love the way that we do baptism at New Harvest. We do it all kinds of ways. Sometimes it’s planned. We get to hear stories of life-change. I love it. Sometimes it’s spontaneous, and you get to see amazing things that you weren’t expecting. I love that not just the pastor can baptize in our church. Any dad (or mom, for that matter), as long as they are a believer in Jesus, can dunk their child.
I love baptizing teenagers; but, you know, I was thinking about an orange resolution for 2012. As much as I like to wear a Jedi robe and dunk a kid, I think I’m going to ask my teenage “candidates” this year if they would want to share this moment with their mom or dad. Some may say no, but some may have not even thought about the role that their parents have played in their coming to faith in Jesus. I say let’s do more Orange Baptisms.
Here in the lovely Central Valley of California, we are going to be having an event called: Meet Me at Chick-Fil-A. Members of the family ministry team and I were able to attend the Meet Me at Chick-Fil-A when we went to the Orange Tour down in So-Cal this fall, and it was an awesome experience. Why is it cool? Here’s my top ten reasons:
1. The people who work there have to say, “My Pleasure” when you say, “Thank you.” C’mon. That’s fun to experiment with.
2. You get to meet with other Orange thinkers from your area and bounce ideas about the application of the Orange strategy in the local church. This is what it’s all about.
3. The Original Chicken Sandwich. Seriously, there isn’t a fast food place that I get excited to be at more than Chick-Fil-A.
4. When I went, I was convicted by the questions of other people; and I had the encouragement to do something!
5. You get to wear orange (which just so happened to be my favorite color before the philosophy was even invented).
6. You get to see how other people can take the same curriculum, books, and ideas and put them into practice in totally different, creative ways.
7. Texas Pete hot sauce packets. They’re made in the town I grew up in (Winston-Salem, NC), and they’re vinegary bombness.
8. You can talk to an Orange Specialist. We’ve got one with us in Fresno (Stephanie Porter), and she’s a great resource for when you’ve got questions or are wondering if something has ever been done before.
9. Sweet tea. Cravin’ Mellon (a South Carolina band) wrote a song about the merits of sweet tea. “On the eighth day, God made sweet tea.” It stimulates the mind.
10. Networking. The conversation doesn’t end at Chick-Fil-A. Through Facebook, Twitter, and all that other dinosaur stuff, you can stay in touch with other people who are trying their best to partner with families to incite wonder, provoke discovery, and fuel passion in the next generation.
Find out where there’s a “Meet Me at Chick-Fil-A” Event close to you. As for you Central Valley people, it’s going to be at Chick-Fil-A on Blackstone (near River Park and right off of 41) on Thursday, February 9th at 2 PM.
I’ll be wearing orange.
I’ve been wrestling with the idea of what is REALLY looks like for the church to partner with the family, and a wise man gave me a great idea. I asked this guy, who is a ministry vet and a guy who really “gets” the orange philosophy what was the best thing he did to grow in his relationships with entire families in his ministry– and I’m not sure what I expected to be his response– but sometimes the simplest answers are the ones that make the most sense.
“Have a Bible study for dads of teenagers.”
I remember already having pushback in my mind, “Wait, no, I’m the ‘student’ ministries director. Could or should I be spending that much time with grown men?” Yes, I know, I laugh at myself sometimes too. But, hey, I’m being honest.
I want to grow alongside other dads. I think that’s the stance that I want to take. I know that I am way, way behind them as far as being a dad goes. I have a six-WEEK-old. They would at least have a twelve-YEAR-old. But experience or even having something to bring to the table isn’t really the issue.
Then my friend when totally counter-intuitive on me and told me to resist the temptation to make the Bible study a topical one about parenting. Instead, he said to just go through a book of the Bible. Again, my mind is thinking, “What, no, I need to be a better ‘steward’ of the time that we would have together.” Actually, what would be better than to go through the Gospel of John, grow in WONDER at who God is, DISCOVER who we are in Christ (and as dads, husbands, etc.), and develop PASSION for others (the world, our family, our co-workers). I think the Bible can do that on its own. So I am going to trust God in this one.
It’s going to be an interesting journey. Something I’ve never really tried before. I’m just the assembler, not the teacher. Something tells me that I am going to learn so much and be blessed on Wednesday mornings at Denny’s.
The joke around New Harvest is that my nickname “PM” is an indication of when I do all my ministry. Some weeks, that’s the way it feels (with an event or meeting nearly every night). Rarely, do I use the AM as a time to do anything productive (I’m recovering). But this is a priority to me, so I am getting up early enough so that almost no one would have an excuse for why they’d miss: 6 AM – 8 AM. I hope that, by creating a middle, dads will meet me there.
So, yesterday I officially became an “orange” dad. All this orange jive comes from the book “Think Orange: Imagine the Impact When Church and Family Collide…” by Reggie Joiner. It’s an awesome read that I’m reading in small chunks because it’s so, so rich with wisdom of WHY it’s so critical for the family and the church to partner together. In the book, Reggie says:
“There are two powerful influences on the planet–
the church and the home.
They both exist because God initiated them.
They both exist because God desires to use them
to demonstrate His plan of redemption and restoration.
If they work together they can potentially
make a greater impact than if they work alone.
They need each other.
Too much is at stake for either one to fail.
Their primary task is to build God’s kingdom
in the hearts and minds of men and women, sons and daughters.”
I wasn’t even remotely nervous because I know how competent the volunteers are, and I know that this is God’s plan for Evie. It was awesome to go to the front desk and have one of the volunteers, Ken, snap a picture of the “drop off” for posterity. [I wanted to bring my camera, but I didn’t want to be “that guy” who brings his camera to everything. Thanks, Ken, for helping me have what I wanted!] Here’s that pic:
Then we dropped Evie off with Holly and Sam. It was really cool that Sam, one of our high school girls, was in there that morning! It just felt right. I know Jocelyn (our Starting Line Coordinator) probably made a few visits into the baby room to “see how Evie was doing” too. Evie was surrounded by love. :-)
I love the aim of Starting Line. No, the aim isn’t just, “Survive crying, change diapers, and give them goldfish to eat.” Instead, they are going to do their best before she even enters kindergarten to help her realize that:
“God MADE Me
God LOVES Me
Jesus Wants to be My FRIEND Forever”
Awesome, awesome. The circle has officially widened beyond just family. Evie had some church up on Sunday. And it felt delightfully orange.
Oh, and she was fine. And so were we. After her day, full of Starting Line, “big church,” and Family Life Live, Evie actually slept through the whole night last night. A first. Awesome.
When you google, “orange dad,” this post comes up on Carlos Whittaker’s blog. What I like is that he means what I mean by it. Here’s what he says:
“Here’s the deal.
I have 3 kids.
All three of them are unique in the way that God has crafted them.
All three of them take a unique style of parenting.
All three of them can be set loose to follow God with the curriculum and ideals behind Orange.
These kids are the world to me.
I want to see them spring to Jesus however that looks.
Falling, stumbling, jumping, laughing, crying, puking, singing, screaming.
However they get there.
I want to help them.
And Reggie Joyner and his team have what I believe is the best way to do that.
They study the child.
They study wonder and put it in a way that I could never.
If parents would only realize how they bore their children. -George Bernard Shaw
I need all the help I can get, and I choose to follow the Orange model to pull that off.”
Cool beans. Any other orange dads out there?