“As leaders our primary purpose is not to keep our children in church, but to lead them to be the church.” (p. 217)
Think Orange will be the defining work on Children’s Ministry & Family Ministry for quite some time. A significant discussion within the church is the relationships between the church, the family, and the various generations within both. From a methodology standpoint, Think Orange gives a road map to answer these questions. The book’s strengths are in explaining the why and what questions of a Family Ministry. There are other resources by the ReThink group that address the how.
The why question is critical
While there are many who do not appreciate or think philosophically, what you believe truly effects what you do. Reggie Joiner does an excellent job of explaining the essential role of both the family, the church and how they are combined and interact through leveraging community. A continual frustration of mine in Children’s Ministry is how programs or materials merely view parents as important, not essential. Think Orange views parents as essential! The combination or synergy of the family with church produced produces a powerful result. Reggie states: “2 combined influences make a greater impact than just 2 influences.” (p. 15) This principle, along with others, gives practical guidance to living out the truths of Scripture, in particular the parents’ role in discipling their children and the church’s role in equipping the saints for ministry.
The what question is helpful
What is needed is a collaborative model for family ministry, and not a hap hazard, random, or departmentalized one. Essential #1: Integrate Strategy, starting on page 110, is the most critical section answering what we need. A professor of mine often used the term “braiding,” getting various things to work together. Having an integrated strategy helps all areas of family ministry to be on the same team and working towards the same goal. Said another way, it teaches children about the church by being a church. As a child grow up in the church, he or she is taken to another level at each life stage, including transitions between life stages. With society causing more and more fragmentation, the church needs to be a place that brings people together. Think Orange understands the equilibrium between families together, age appropriateness, and being one church. This equilibrium is a result from Reggie high view of community. Children are not the church of tomorrow but the church of today.
The book’s design and layout is helpful for those who are sequential & analytical thinkers, or the more abstract & random thinkers. It offers many ideas, discussion questions and insights. The book can be read sequentially, treated as a manual or encyclopedia on family ministry methodology. The charts and quotes that stand out were extremely well done and help to navigate the book.
Reggie shares frequently how the ideas translated into what was done at North Point. One should be careful to distinguish between example and what is/ what works at North Point. This is normally distinguishable, but there are times when it may be confusing. This is not a criticism, just something to be aware of. Another point that stands out and one should be aware of is Reggie’s humility. He gives permission to disagree with him, and even states that he may disagree with himself. This tone and attitude is refreshing and should be more prevalent within the church.
The Bottom Line
Think Orange is a critical work to navigate through if you are serious about impacting yours and other children to be the church, not merely attend church! Its strength is in family ministry methodology, with a close secondary strength in ministry philosophy.