About seven years ago, when we were first working on Milburn Crossing, my son in Atlanta was attending The Northpoint Church’s Buckhead Campus. NorthPoint is the largest protestant church in North America. They are one of the pioneers in extension sites. I had studied them in my doctoral work and was excited Aaron was a part of such a dynamic congregation. He was on the tech team at Buckhead and offered to see if he could get me a tour of the campus, and maybe even talk with someone who was working with new campus development.
I was blessed to get the tour and to have over an hour with the head of Second Campus development. I came back here and shared that I hoped someday we could move in the same directions. The Orange Movement is not a program, but a way of looking at how we do church. It came out of Northpoint. Most of the things we are going to be talking about, are the things that I was so excited about then. The difference is they have had eight years of experiencing, testing, faithful prayer, extensive study and refinement. Most of the top churches in the country have gone orange.
Orange is about using the best tools possible to empower families (including singles and other groups within the church which are the nuclei of our lives) to make the most of the tools available to be faithful followers of Christ and raise children who love and serve God. One of the concepts which goes back to the Lectionary and common graded Sunday School Curriculum that was so popular 50 years ago. The idea is to get the whole congregation along with other churches, to gather around the same themes and pull in the same direction. Orange approaches this “old” idea with new, creative, culturally relevant, tested, inspired techniques. Orange is quality and it is the right strategy at the right time for our congregation.
The conference was awesome. There was more inspiration and information than I can process here. Writing a summary in this short space is impossible. A few things off the top of my head that stick out are:
*There are no first time visitors on Sunday Morning. Almost every new person who comes to our church has already visited our website. It is our first portal of entry.
*The youngest Millennials (78 million, my kids’ group) is now 16. This generation is totally immersed in technology. If we do not use technology well, we will lose this generation. The fact is, we are already losing this generation and if we do, American Christianity which is already in big trouble, will be almost non-existent in 50 years. Not nearly enough are in church as children and those who are, are exiting at an alarming rate. They are gone after high school and unlike previous generations, they are not returning when they have children. Orange is one way of thinking, that is helping turn this around.
*The message of Christianity is still relevant, needed and received but, as is true with every generation, we have to find culturally relevant ways to share that message starting with the children.
*Younger folks still need mentors but the style of mentoring needs to be adapted to meet the needs and culture of those being mentored.
These are just a few thoughts. Some of the other staff appeared surprised to see how excited I was about going Orange. In reality, it is the direction I was hoping and praying that we would go for years. It just makes sense and it is a lot of fun. I believe following Jesus should be fun and exciting even during tough times. There will be no compulsion to change everything. You will not be forced to do things you are uncomfortable with. If you like what your adult class and/or group are doing, no problem, but there will be resources to help if you want them.
Joel has been blue at times, our family is trying to go green and now I’m orange all the way. Hang on! It is going to be fun.