by Chara Robinson
I have the pleasure of being the children’s pastor at Hill City Church located in Richmond, Virginia. We are a city church right on the dividing line of the city and county, nearby interstate exchanges. September 14, 2015, we turned ONE YEAR OLD! We have about 350-360 active adults in the church and about 65 kids, birth through 8th grade.
In retrospect, the texts I sent my husband, close friends and lead pastor after I was asked to write a blog post on the Orange Leaders site might have been a little extreme.
I THINK I MIGHT PASS OUT. (emoji)
THEY WANT ME TO WRITE??? (another emoji)
SERIOUSLY, I MIGHT PASS OUT. (Pass out emoji . . . our lead pastor likes emojis.)
Yet, there it was, an invitation to write to church plants who were considering, or going to use, Orange. Orange wanted practical tips for church plants, so I sat down and wrote everything I could think of that could help, pressed the word count button, and couldn’t believe it: 2,250 words. Only 1,750 words more than the assignment. After more editing than I’ve ever done (when in school did you cut down the length of your papers?), I hope these 400 or so words give you some ideas on how Orange impacted our church plant.
GO ALL IN. Read every Orange book you can find. Start with Think Orange and then absolutely read Lead Small. Attend The Orange Conference and spend time asking leaders questions you have. Follow all the blogs associated with Orange, from the curriculum blogs to Lead Small. Wear orange. I’m not kidding.
Tour. I also recommend locating churches that you know do Orange well and visit them. Take notes, look at their environments, and ask the leaders for their advice. Once you are a few months into your plant, ask them to come give you feedback on how you are doing.
Lead Consistently Small. Before we started, my goal was to have the same adult teach the children weekly in small groups. I knew this would mean that those adults would miss church each Sunday. So I prayed. I prayed for SGLs who shared my vision, and God provided them. I’m telling you, it is worth it. Parents immediately see the difference as younger kids transition from things going more easily at drop off and older kids being excited to see someone that knows them. With consistent leaders, kids come in and can share comfortably.
We Are Family. Before we went to two services, we started a kidmin “volunteer only” worship service before church. The band was practicing anyway and our pastor enjoyed the extra rep for his delivery. Our volunteers truly appreciated this and the worship bonded us together like a family.
Fun Room. Oftentimes, the kids of those that serve end up disliking church the most. Who can blame them? I love our pastor’s sermons, but I don’t find myself wanting to listen to it twice in a row (sorry, John . . . emoji). So, we created a “fun” room for kids to hang out, watch movies, play Xbox, etc., when they were not attending our children’s service. This was an idea we got on a tour of a church that I suggest above.
Is Orange working? Yes. We have had amazing growth our first year and continue to impact lives of families that previously were not attending church. And what’s cool is for a lot of them their kids are initiating their attendance! We have almost doubled our amount of kids (birth–8th grade) in a year and parents that previously had no idea what to say to guide their children spiritually are having conversations over dinner time using the Parent Cue questions. We’ve found that Orange is right: once the intimidation factor is taken away from spirituality, the faith starts becoming their own. Real. Everyday. Faith.