What is the Orange Strategy? That’s the question I hope to answer in this post, but it is a simple one and a complex one at the same time. Put simply, the Orange strategy is all about churches partnering with parents to pass faith on to the next generation.

It’s more than that, however.

The Orange Strategy centers around the 5 Orange Essentials, which I’ll share about here. I’ll also include a great resource to assess your ministry around the essentials and some other helpful posts.

Align Leaders

Align leaders to lead with the same end in mind with a common language and a common strategy.

Aligning leaders starts with aligning staff. Our family ministry team meets weekly and we use that time to share stories, look at the calendar, communicate, and learn together. I remember years ago hearing Reggie Joiner talk about the importance of meetings in aligning leaders. I’m weird because I typically love meetings, but most people don’t. Regardless, we have found it to be true that a regular team meeting is necessary in order to truly be aligned.

Refine the Message

Craft core truths into engaging, relevant and memorable experiences that correlate with the faith formation of each phase.

At the core of this essential is the idea that we don’t have time to teach kids and students the entire Bible and the entire Bible is not equally relevant to their stage of life anyway. In addition, repeating content in fresh ways helps it stick. At our church we have partnered with Orange for our children’s curriculum from day one because they do a great job of creating content and supporting elements that are engaging, relevant, and memorable. Our student ministry uses XP3 as well and supplements it with their own content to create different series.

One thing I have learned from practicing this essential is how true it is. We have seen the power of refining the message as children really do learn the basic truths and virtues we teach. One basic truth is “I need to make the wise choice”. We’ve seen time and time again how kids are actually thinking about that outside of the church.

Engage Parents

Engage parents to have a positive influence in the spiritual development of their own kids.

This may be the most difficult essential to succeed in as a church. In some ways, it is like trying to change an entire culture and mindset that has been in place for a long time. Many parents in our churches agree with this and live it out. However, many of them do not live it out whether they agree with it or not. It is a challenge as a parent to be intentional about leading our own kids spiritually and therefore it is a challenge as a church to help parents thrive in that role.

Orange has created tons of resources to help churches partner with parents, some of which is built into the curriculum and the rest of it can be used regardless of the curriculum you use. Resources such as:

I’ve written a lot about partnering with parents on this blog and you can read about our 5-Part Strategy here. You can also see all the articles on this site about partnering with parents here.

Elevate Community

Give every kid a caring leader and predictable and safe community where they can grow spiritually.

Studies have been done that show the importance of having multiple adult influences in a child’s life. Even apart from faith, studies have shown that teenagers who have more adults in their life do better in every area of life including school, friendships, and avoiding pitfalls. In our churches, it is easy to have adult volunteers serving with kids and students and think we are practicing this essential. Here are some questions we wrestled with to see how we were doing:

  • Do we have small groups or classrooms?
  • Are children and students seeing the same leader every week?
  • Do our leaders know the parents of our kids and students (and vice-versa)?
  • Do our children and students miss their leader when they are not there?

We could not have said yes to many of those questions when our church first started. The reality is, switching to a model that elevates community and connects kids and students with specific leaders consistently is difficult. It requires more administrative work, more commitment from volunteers, and more alignment throughout the church. However, in our experience, it’s completely worth it. Everything you hear from Orange and at the Orange Conference about the benefits of elevating community is true.

You can read more posts about elevating community and the “Lead Small” approach here.

Influence Service

Create consistent opportunities for kids and teenagers to serve.

I grew up attending church and if I were to list the 3 most pivotal experiences in my faith journey they would include:

  • Serving at a Christian day camp
  • Serving on a student ministry mission trip
  • Some conversations that happened on that same mission trip

All 3 involved experiencing personal ministry, which is what this essential is all about. I remember going to the very first Orange Conference in 2007 and hearing them talk about the importance of having students serve and experience personal ministry. Because of my experience, I was easily convinced of how important it really was.

At our church, students have been involved in experiencing personal ministry since day one. Our pastor was a student pastor previously and service trips were a huge component of his strategy for student ministry. Students have also served in regular volunteer roles in our church but that is one area we are really hoping to grow in. As Orange promotes, we want to make the percentage of our students serving a key metric in how well we’re doing in student ministry. We have a ways to go but I like our progress.

The Orange Strategy Gauges

Years ago, with the Think Orange book and the Orange Leaders Handbook, came a great tool I still used to this day. It’s the NextGen Ministry Gauge. It’s a way you can assess your ministry around the 5 Orange Essentials. You can grab the assessment and the worksheet below.

I recommend a handful of people take the assessment so you get the best idea of where your ministry is right now. Maybe it’s multiple staff, or you and some key volunteer leaders.

Other Helpful Posts on Orange Strategy

Here are a few other posts that are great reads when it comes to the Orange Strategy.

The Orange Strategy is excellent, but no strategy implements itself. It takes hard work, commitment, and patience because it also won’t happen in a month. We’ve used the Orange Strategy in our church since the church was planted in 2006. With well over a decade of history, we have countless stories of how the strategy works.

What is your experience with the Orange Strategy? Let me know if I can help you and your church implement it.