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Founder of the Orange Conference, Reggie Joiner looks at what would happen if the church and families combined their efforts to create a revolutionary strategy to affect the lives of children.
Families and churches are each working hard to build faith in kids, but imagine the potential results when the two environments synchronize, maximizing their individual efforts. What can the church do to empower the family? How can the family emphasize the work of the church? They can Think Orange. Former family ministry director Reggie Joiner looks at what would happen if churches and families decided they could no longer do business as usual, but instead combined their efforts and began to work off the same page for the sake of the kids. Think Orange shows church leaders how to make radical changes so they can:
• Engage parents in an integrated strategy
• Synchronize the home and church around a clear message
• Provoke parents and kids to fight for their relationships with each other
• Recruit mentors to become partners with the family
• Mobilize the next generation to be the church
With a transparent, authentic approach that gives every family and church hope for being more effective in their common mission, Think Orange rethinks the approach to children’s, youth, and family ministry.
I've never really liked orange. Until recently, I avoided wearing orange or painting anything orange. Maybe it was a subconscious aversion to the baby aspirin I took as a kid, or the fact that orange clothes make my skin look pale, or the rowdy nature of Florida Gator fans. I just know I have always had a personal resistance to that particular color.
That's why it's hard for me to believe I am actually writing a book called Think Orange. The truth is, after extensive Internet searching and countless images, I am developing a favorable opinion about orange. You might even say I am becoming an orange fanatic.
What's so intriguing about the color orange?
Orange sends a variety of interesting messages. It symbolizes health—orange foods like tangerines, sweet potatoes, and carrots suggest a proper diet packed with beta-carotene or vitamin C. Orange stands out among the family of colors as distinct and bold. Those who work in safety or emergency professions choose it for its visibility. Advertising agencies use it to make a brash statement. Interior decorators strategically place it in a room to add flare or draw attention to an area. Organizations choose it to attract awareness for critical issues; dozens of causes from hunger to leukemia are represented by the color orange. A host of schools raise orange banners and wear orange jerseys to celebrate team spirit.
I could even be convinced that it's one of God's favorite colors—He stuck it right there between red and yellow as the second color in the rainbow. He decorates entire forests with shades of orange every autumn. It shows up in sunrises at the start of the day, sunsets at the end of the day, and in the glow of the moon at the right time of night.
So maybe you can see why I'm gaining a new respect for orange.
Even with all these reasons to love orange, we have discovered new cause to highlight this often-overlooked hue. It's why this book is called Think Orange. Orange is a secondary color, created when you combine two primary colors—red and yellow. I'm sure you remember finger painting in preschool. A magical moment probably occurred when you learned that mixing two colors produced something new and distinct. It was exciting to see how two pigments could merge to create something even more powerful.
Orange is what red and yellow can do when they combine efforts. If you paint only with red, you will get what only red can do. If you paint only with yellow, you will get what only yellow can do. But when you paint with red and yellow, you'll get new possibilities, fresh solutions, vibrant outcomes.
Are you beginning to see the potential? It's the advantage of using two colors to create a third option. When you think Orange, you see how two combined influences make a greater impact than just two influences.
Clearly, this isn't a new concept. Positive change and innovation have often resulted from the merging of two independent entities to accomplish a greater effect.
In New Mexico's Children, Youth and Families Department, Ellie Ortiz and Diane Granito have dedicated their lives to finding homes for older children and sibling groups. Ortiz suggested that the right photos of the children could give potential homes a look into the personalities and spirits of each child. Until that time, the photos that accompanied the children's files resembled mug shots, with plain backgrounds and unkempt subjects who rarely smiled. Recognizing an opportunity, they began to approach world-famous photographers and art galleries with requests to photograph the children in a more cheerful style.
In 2001 the first Heart Gallery opened, featuring photographs and information about various children available for adoption. Over a thousand people attended, and inquiries about children more than doubled. Since then, national coverage has abounded. From Parade magazine to ABC's World News Tonight and from NPR's All Things Considered to numerous articles in local newspapers, Ortiz and Granito's efforts have resulted in the formation of more than sixty new Heart Galleries all across the country. In city after city, the best photographers in the business—some of whom typically require thousands of dollars for a portrait—have volunteered to take free pictures of kids who need homes. It's hard to imagine that a child's life could change because of the impact of one photograph, but these galleries are proving that it's true.
Heart Galleries are a perfect example of thinking Orange. Adoption agencies everywhere are discovering that combining their passion with the resources of art galleries gives kids a better chance. When two entities leverage their talents and influence, together they can do remarkable things.
When we open our eyes, we see examples of thinking Orange everywhere. When Harvard University leveraged its influence with the power of television, the mix of entertainment and education gave us Sesame Street. When a young father decided to combine the concept of family time with the amusement park industry, the world was introduced to the phenomenon of Disney.
Combining red and yellow always creates an Orange effect, and thinking Orange challenges the norm and has the potential to introduce something revolutionary.
So what exactly is this book about?
In principle, this book is about two entities partnering to make a greater impact or to create a better solution. In practice, it explores the possibilities of what can happen if the church and the home combine efforts for the sake of impacting the next generation. For us, the church can be represented with yellow (chapter 2, "Bright Lights") and families with red (chapter 3, "Warm Hearts").
The premise of this book is simple: As long as churches do only what churches are doing, they will get only the results they are presently getting. And as long as families do only what families are doing, they will produce only the outcomes they are presently producing. To experience a different outcome, we have to embrace a different strategy. So if you are reading this book and you are genuinely satisfied with the results you see from kids growing up in our churches and homes, you should stop now. This book just isn't for you.
But if you have a heightened sense of concern about what appears to be a growing spiritual and moral dilemma in the next generation, I hope you will consider each page carefully. Thinking orange can be risky—reading this could stir you to initiate the kinds of changes that seem radical and incite controversy.
Many of us believe that both the church and the family are at a crossroads. It seems we have arrived at a potentially defining moment in society in which the church is losing its influence and the home is losing its heart. Some say it's time to give up on the church, or at least abandon the idea that the church in the form of an organized institution can have any lasting effect on the next generation. Others seem to suggest it's time to give up on the home. It's only logical to assume that since the family unit is continuing to disintegrate and parents are failing in their responsibilities, it's time to replace the home with a more effective model. Some churches are embracing the idea that the church needs to become a substitute for the family, while others are endorsing a movement that encourages the home to become a substitute for the church.
As a result, church and home represent a polarization of ideas instead of a convergence. Those who love yellow are determined to create brighter shades of yellow, while those who believe in red are determined to make richer, deeper versions of red.
But what if the solution for the next generation is neither yellow nor red? What if the answer is both, blended in a new and radical way? What if the church and the home combined their efforts and began to work off the same page for the sake of the children? We propose that the answer is Orange, seeing the potentially revolutionary effect that a true merger between the church and the home could have on the lives of children.
The critical question is who is going to initiate the strategy to get churches and families to think Orange? For the Orange effect to become a reality in the next generation, a new breed of leadership must emerge. We need leaders who will recast themselves, becoming catalysts to change the way the church and the home partner. Church leaders are the most logical people to champion this cause, as most churches have the platform and the network needed to rally the home and the church and to synchronize their efforts. But the church has not experienced leveraging its influence to truly engage the family. Too many churches are so accustomed to painting in yellow that they have difficulty thinking in terms of Orange. Rather than synchronize their efforts, they attempt to convince parents to start painting in yellow.
What's really at stake when the church and the family don't think Orange, when they are not advancing the same strategy? There are a number of adverse consequences to isolated red and yellow thinking:
The church forfeits its potential to have greater influence on kids' and students' lives.
Churches miss critical opportunities to meet the needs of unchurched parents in their communities.
Communities continue to perceive the church as institutional, insulated, and irrelevant.
The church is characterized by superficial relationships.
Productions or programs are positioned as the answer.
Parents and leaders fail to teach the same truths in a synchronized effort.
Parents avoid or abdicate to the church the responsibility to be spiritual leaders.
I am not suggesting that the church and the home merely need to work concurrently and effectively in order to accomplish more. In many cases, the church and the home are each trying to do the best job they can for their children. Churches are full of programs that inspire families, and countless families participate regularly in their local churches. Both groups are simultaneously hard at work to build faith in children, but the problem is that they are not working in sync. Working on the same thing at the same time is not as effective as working on the same thing at the same time with the same strategy. When you creatively synchronize the two environments, you get more than just red or yellow—you get Orange.
Orange Babies is a group that has dedicated itself to protecting the future of children in an unusual way. Originating in Holland, the group's members are committed to rescuing children in Africa from falling victim to AIDS. A dose of the drug nevirapine during the last month of pregnancy can help prevent an HIV-positive pregnant mother from transferring the disease to her child. Here's the amazing thing: One pill gives the unborn child a 50 percent chance of being born without the deadly virus. The cost of the pill is a whopping six dollars. So Orange Babies has developed a simple plan to fight AIDS: Give the pills to as many mothers as possible so as many kids as possible can have a better chance to live.
Imagine you are a doctor who holds in his hands a drug that would stack the odds in a child's favor. Would you use it? Absolutely! Likewise, we as leaders are called to save lives and to give every kid the best chance possible. Although parents don't have a pill they can give their kids to help them have a better chance spiritually and morally, you can implement a strategy that will improve their odds.
Will you consider it?
It may mean that you have to abandon your existing methods.
It may require you to redesign your present programming.
It may radically change everything you do if you become convinced that partnering with parents could give kids a better chance.CHAPTER 2
BRIGHT LIGHTS INFLUENCE #1: THE CHURCH
As a college sophomore, I studied English literature under a professor who was overtly agnostic and anti-Christian. I had encountered individuals before who rejected Christianity or who didn't like church, but never had my foundational beliefs been confronted in such an antagonistic way. He frequently railed about the atrocities committed by the church, recounting the indecent acts of those who led the Crusades and poking holes in the inconsistent tactics of fundamentalists. He seemed to include all Christians in the same category, painting them as the most ignorant, narrow- minded, and prejudiced people in the world. Sometimes other students would gang up on the Christians and start adding their own reasons why the church was irrelevant and dangerous to society.
One day the conversation became particularly intense, and the handful of Christians in the room grew quiet. One of the more vocal students blurted out, "Everybody would be a lot better off if we just got rid of all the churches!" As the entire class erupted with applause, our professor interrupted with a statement that shocked everyone.
"That would be a tragedy," he said. "If we got rid of the churches, it would be like turning the lights off in our society. We need churches like we need our consciences."
It has always been intriguing to me that someone who was so skeptical about the church still believed and understood its mission. Even he knew that the church exists to illuminate.
We could attribute a number of different qualities to the church.
Before we start thinking Orange, it is important to understand the distinct and essential task the church has been designed to do. There are as many views of the church's role as there are theologians and experts and even churchgoers. But I'd like to suggest that there seems to be one primary function of the church in society—the one thing every church seems to have in common regardless of size, denomination, theological slant, or location. As one of the two primary entities that God has positioned to have influence in the world, the church is uniquely and strategically placed on this planet to display God's glory to the world. The role of the church is simply to turn on a light.
If you search long enough you can find a host of smart leaders who have put their personal spin on why the church exists. I have read a lot of contradicting opinions on how to do church, or what the church should look like, and I think they probably agree on this issue more than they would like to admit. If you lose all the analysis and reduce some of the wordiness, most people agree on why the church exists. See if you can find that common thread in some of the following perspectives about the church.
The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose.
—C. S. Lewis
The church is the single, multiethnic family promised by the creator God to Abraham. It was brought into being through Israel's Messiah, Jesus; it was called to bring the transformative news of God's rescuing justice to the whole creation.
—N. T. Wright
The main reason [I make my son go to church] is that I want to give him what I found in the world, which is to say a path and a little light to see by. Most of the people I know who have what I want—which is to say, purpose, heart, balance, gratitude, joy—are people with a deep sense of spirituality.... They follow a brighter light than the glimmer of their own candle; they are part of something beautiful.
The church is missionary by nature because God through the Spirit calls, creates, and commissions the church to communicate to the world that the redemptive reign of God has broken into human history.
—Craig Van Gelder
Regardless of which leader you like best, they all make a similar point: The church exists to show the world who Jesus is. Certainly, the church universal may be a little more complicated, and there's a lot more to the church than just one simple definition, but I'm personally encouraged that Christians have come so close to agreeing on something.
The last book of the Bible takes this concept a step further and gives us a powerful metaphor for the church's purpose: the lampstand in the tabernacle. When John writes in the opening chapter of Revelation that Jesus compares the church to a lampstand, we are given a strong reminder of the church's responsibility.
Anyone reading these words in the early church would have immediately understood the image of the lampstand. In Exodus, it was one of the few pieces of furniture that God commanded to be put in the tabernacle. God gave specific instructions on how the lampstand was to be built, the kind of oil it should burn, where it was to be placed, and what it existed to illuminate. The Exodus passages are rich with descriptions about the lampstand and can give any church insight into its purpose. For example, except for God's presence in the inner sanctum of the tabernacle, the lampstand provided the only source of light within the tabernacle walls. It is also interesting that one of the priests' primary jobs was to make sure that the light of the lampstand never burned out.
The lampstand was located in a strategic place.
One of the most intriguing details about the lampstand was where it was placed—next to the table that held the "shewbread," the loaves known as the "bread of presence." The lampstand was positioned strategically to do one thing: cast its light on the table and on the bread that represented God's provision and presence. For generations, the lampstand of the tabernacle stood to highlight the object that best represented God's goodness and provision, the same object that Jesus would one day use to symbolize His own body.
Excerpted from THINK ORANGE by REGGIE JOINER. Copyright © 2009 Reggie Joiner. Excerpted by permission of David C. Cook.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted June 23, 2010
I recently started reading the book "Think Orange" by Reggie Joiner. It talked about the power of combining church (yellow) and family (red) to produce a more powerful force (orange) than either could be alone. After a funny and offbeat introduction, Reggie begins his dicussions with some "Orange-ology". He explains that "The premise of this book is simple: As long as churches do only what they are doing, they will get only results they are presently getting." The same goes for the family. There are failures in both homes and churches -- churches are losing influence and families are disintegrating -- so what is the solution? Step up the force on both sides? Or how about combining forces for a whole new way of thinking? This is Thinking Orange. This is not another "family based ministry" approach. This is a way of thinking that could lead to radical and controversial changes. Many churches and families are already working on the same thing -- trying to raise good and Christ-centered kids. But, as Reggie explains "working on the same thing at the same time is not as effective as working on the same thing at the same time with the same strategy" (p26).
This book is so full of new things to think about and ponder, it's good if you take it slow and steady. Journal as you read -- because you'll want to incorporate the things Reggie is sharing. You can get a little bogged down in all the things Reggie is sharing at times, but keep going -- you'll be glad you did. A great resource.
MY BLOG: www.growingkidsministry.com
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Posted March 13, 2010
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