How Orange Helps Our Church Help Parents

Orange Conference 2017

If you don’t know what Orange is, it’s a non-profit company that helps churches win with families. They help by creating strategies, curriculum, resources, leader training, conferences and more. You can find out more on the What Is Orange website. Registration for the 2017 Orange Conference opens this week, and in this post, I’ll share how Orange has helped our church serve families, along with some new things that are in the works.

How Orange Defines A Win With Parents

There are so many things churches can do to help parents win. In order to help churches focus on what’s most important, Orange has identified two primary ways in which churches can help parents win:

  1. Help parents be more present with their family. Churches should look to help parents connect relationally with their kids and lead them well.
  2. Help parents connect in community. Churches can help parents connect to their church, but even more, connect with other parents in the church.

Ever since Orange began as an organization, even before being called Orange, it has helped churches partner with parents. It has helped by providing resources, content, ideas, training, and more. They continue to grow and develop their offering and Phase is a big part of that.

A Yearly Plan To Help Parents Win

Our team is working towards creating a yearly plan to help parents win and Orange is helping us do that. Here are 5 components Orange believes should be included in a yearly plan, along with how they’re helping with each one.

Establish an Annual Orientation

New parents join our churches all the time and existing parents need an opportunity to re-engage each year. Plus, our kids are a year older and possibly in a different Phase. An annual orientation allows churches to equip parents for the year ahead. Phase is an excellent tool for this orientation and Orange is developing a kit to help churches do this well.

Offer Periodic Small Group Studies

This goes to the second way we can help parents win, by putting them in community with other parents. One of the most dangerous things in parenting is when a parent has nobody to talk to and believes the problems they are facing are completely unique to them. What’s even worse is we (parents) feel guilt and shame about it, thereby lessening the chance of talking to someone. Small groups would help break down those barriers, and Orange continues to create materials for churches to use in small groups of parents.

Develop a Weekly Cueing Strategy

Parents need to know what is important this year, but they also need to know what is important this week. Orange provides content and a plan through their curriculum, resources for parents, and Go Weekly. Resources include a parent blog, a podcast, an app, and more. This is one of the components we already utilize, but there is room to improve here as well.

Celebrate Critical Milestones

A yearly plan to partner with parents should include helping them make the most of the critical milestones in their child’s life. Milestones such as baby dedication, going into kindergarten, baptism, graduation, and more. Orange creates resources churches can use to help parents celebrate these milestones well.

Create Opportunities for Shared Experiences

Few things outweigh the importance of parents spending time with their children. In our churches, we want to create opportunities for parents and kids to experience something together. Orange provides ideas and resources to help churches do just that.

Want to Learn More? Come to the Orange Conference!

This only scratches the surface of how Orange helps our church helps parents, and we didn’t even touch on how Orange helps our church serve kids and students. If you want to learn how to do this better, the best way to start is to head to the 2017 Orange Conference. I’ll be there, and I’d love to see you there as well. Registration opens this week, so don’t miss out on the best price!

Register Here

Win a Lifetime Membership to Parent Ministry

Ministry to Parents

In the NextGen/Family Ministry survey I did earlier this year, Partnering with Parents was the #1 topic leaders were interested in hearing about. I can’t say I was too surprised because it’s absolutely critical to a strong family ministry and it’s a topic I’m very interested in as well.

Podcast Interview

I’m excited to share the podcast interview I had with Jeremy of Parent Ministry. You can find it here. We talked all about ways in which we can do a better job partnering with parents. Jeremy knocks it out of the park as he shares the importance of ministering to parents and practical ways we can do it in our churches.

If you’re not familiar with Parent Ministry, they create content, resources, event kits, and everything you need to launch and organize your ministry to parents. After our interview, I thought it would be fun to see if they would be up for giving something away along with the podcast hitting this week.

They came up big. 

They’re giving away a lifetime membership to Parent Ministry (kids+youth bundle) to one lucky person. I’m not sure how to quantify a lifetime, but we’re talking about well over $10K in value.

Enter to win a lifetime membership to Parent Ministry

To enter to win, fill out the form below. Once you confirm your email address, you’ll receive an email with the one additional step you can take to enter to win. Not to mention, the step itself will give you some great free content, including:

  • 5 Strategies to take your parent ministry to the next level
  • 52 Family Dinner Discussions
  • Lunch Box Notes for parents to write to their kids
  • 80 Scriptures for encouraging parents

Be sure to listen to the podcast episode and share your thoughts in the comments below or in a rating on iTunes.

Winner = Kristin Shughart of Northridge Church

Kristin Shughart of Northridge Church won the lifetime membership to Parent Ministry. Congrats Kristin!

How We Use an Automated Series Of Emails to Partner With New Parents

Mailchimp Automation

I don’t know about you, but we’re always looking for new and better ways to partner with parents. At our church, we have a 4-part strategy for partnering with parents and one of those components is communication. In terms of partnering with parents, communication looks like:

  • Keeping parents informed of what their children are learning so they can continue conversations at home.
  • Sharing ideas and resources parents can use to lead well at home.
  • Reminding parents of events and opportunities our church has for their family.

Part of our communication plan is a weekly email to parents that shares what their child learned and resources they can use at home (we use Orange curriculum). One way we were missing the mark was with new parents. When new families registered, they were added to our weekly email and received the same resources everyone else receives after each service.

The problem was, we weren’t informing them about the resources. We didn’t explain how it all works, or, how anything works for that matter. In order to help change that, we started an email sequence that every new family receives.

How We Use An Email Sequence to Partner with Parents

In the business world, this is referred to as email sequencing, email automation, or even email drip. It’s just a series of emails people receive when they subscribe to an email list. We use MailChimp for email communication with parents and MailChimp calls it Automation. We created 4 emails every new family will receive spread out over 2 weeks. Here’s what each one is about.

Email 1 – The Team, The Environments, Safety & Security

In the first email, we introduce the staff who lead preschool, elementary, and student ministry overall. We talk about those environments and how much we value safety in all our environments. We end by giving them a heads up about the remaining emails they’ll receive.

Email 2 – Large Group & Small Group

In the second email, we talk about what their children experience when they are in the environments designed for them each week. We explain the two primary components, large group and small group. We also link to pages on our website so we don’t have to include it in the email.

Email 3 – How We Partner With Parents

The third email is all about the various ways we partner with parents. We share the reason why that’s important and start off with the BEST partnership we have with parents (Small Group Leaders). After that, we include everything we make available to parents with links so they can read more.

Email 4 – Invitation to Meet

In the fourth email, our goal is to get a chance to meet them if we haven’t already. I simply refer to the emails they should have received, remind them about the Weekly Parent Update they’ll start receiving, and ask them if we could meet the next time they’re at church. We had to think through this to make sure it could actually work. We also had to get the wording just right so it made sense in every context.

Expectations and Results So Far

We set reasonable expectations heading into it. We didn’t expect 100% email open rates or 75% of new families emailing me back after that fourth email to meet. We’re getting about 50%-75% open rates (excellent by most standards) and about 20% of people communicate back with us in these emails. The other advantage is, they get to know us through the emails. So, even if they didn’t write back, they’re far more open to talking when they see us at church.

Bonus – Get Our Emails

Like most of our efforts toward partnering with parents, this is an experiment. It’s certainly better than nothing, so while we may change the approach, I don’t see us nixing the plan anytime soon. If you would like to try this at your church, you can get our emails and adjust them to fit your context. Just fill out the form below to get a zip file with:

  • PDF copies of the email series
  • HTML files of the email series
  • A PDF sample of our Weekly Parent Update email

At some point, I’d love to put together a video showing you how you can set this all up in MailChimp. Meanwhile, don’t hesitate to reach out if there’s anything I can do to help.

What is working or not working in your partnership with parents?