Sometimes we get fooled into thinking we can only create change in our churches if we’re full-time, paid staff. Not so! We recently heard from Marcia Becker, a volunteer at Timber Lakes Baptist Church in Houston, TX, who turned her church Orange after decades of traditional children’s ministry.
How did you go about presenting the idea to your church’s leadership?
I had been challenged by the leadership team to go find something that would engage and excite our children and also design an environment that would be fun for the kids. Around Christmas last year we had a family visit our church. The kids were 7 and 10 years old. After their visit, the mom took the time to write a letter to our senior pastor saying they felt we had a very loving church, and the people were very nice, but the children’s ministry was lackluster at best. They were looking for a church that would engage their children in a creative fun way.
So I had a meeting for all church members interested in the Children’s Ministry and shared this letter with them. It was a bit of a rude awakening for some while others still don’t understand what was wrong with the way we were doing things. “I have been teaching Sunday School for 35 years. Why do we need to change?” From that meeting, I formed a vision team that helped keep me focused and on-task as the research began.
What advice do you have for smaller churches who don’t think they have enough staff or finances to “go Orange”?
Find churches in your community or nearby communities that you know have successful children’s ministries. Go visit them and discover why they successful. What are they doing to engage their kids? Share your vision with enthusiasm and conviction to your church family. Most church families will find a way to be creative when it comes to financing.
Environment is HUGE when it comes to engaging this age group. It can’t be Grandma’s Sunday school room … it has to be a fun environment, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot. We converted a 25-year-old classroom area with volunteer labor and $15,ooo.
Use your sixth graders! They are good doers, and they want to be made useful and have a purpose.
Caution: Going Orange will take time. Orange is something the ENTIRE church needs to embrace. Start with the kids; they will get it so much faster than the adults. Start by casting the vision to young families who understand their responsibilities are and that a partnership with the church is what they want.