If you have been around ORANGE for any length of time-using our curriculum, attending our events or reading any of our books, you have heard us talk about “ORANGE Strategy”: the combining of the influence of the Church and the Home to have a greater impact on the next generation.
Maybe the idea of “strategy” in relation to church is new to you. Or, maybe you have bought into the idea of strategy, but you are not really sure if it is making any kind of a difference. In either case, you may be asking “Does strategy really matter at church?”
At Orange, we have devoted well over a decade of work based on the belief that strategy DOES matter, but it is fair to ask the question: “How and why it does matter”.
Strategy gives you the opportunity to get your team and the families at your church on the same page, talking the same talk, working towards the same goals and measuring “success” from the same vantage point. When you do this the likelihood for reaching those goals increases substantially. But, what happens when you and your team have implemented a strategy in your ministry? You’ve spent time and resources to define and begin to put in place some ways to implement the strategy, but you feel like your congregation isn’t catching on, your parents don’t seem to be responding to what you are providing to them as reinforcement. When I have conversations with leaders about this, I follow up with, “Tell me about what you have done to let your congregation and parents know about the strategy you have put into place.” You see, simply putting a strategy into place isn’t the final step. It’s the first step. Even having a parent meeting or doing a sermon on the strategy to let your congregation know about your strategy is not the final step. It’s the second step in a continual process of reminding, educating, reinforcing and implementing the strategy you have put in place.
For you to begin to see some fruit from your strategy, you need an on-going weekly plan to continue to put the strategy in front of the people at your church. A plan for volunteers. A plan for parents. A plan for the other members of your congregation who you’d love to have become volunteers. One and done will not get it. This means not only will one meeting not move your strategy to a place of mattering, but one avenue will not accomplish the stated goal for your strategy. Leaders often ask me, “Should I print out the Parent CUE cards, post them on our website or email them out to parents?” My answer is “Yes”. Meaning, you should do all of these things. Being in multiple places means you have a higher likelihood of getting the resource into the hands of the intended audience. If you can think of an avenue of communication, you should be using it. If you happen to be using an ORANGE curriculum, the awesome thing for you is, we have already created the tools to do all of this and provided you with what you need to make it happen. All you have to do is “plug-and-play”, so to speak. Take what we have already created and plug it into every communication avenue you think may give you the opportunity to interface with parents, volunteers and your general congregation. BUT, just getting the resources in the hands of parents doesn’t mean they know what to do the with resource or why you are sending it out to them. Put systems in place where you are reminding parents on a continual basis the intent of any resource you give them and why you want them to have the resource. Help them remember what to do with the resource and how it helps them to partner with you. Use language in your regular communications with families, volunteers and your broader congregation that is continually reminding them about your strategy and how they are a part of that strategy.
Strategy matters so we can actually take needed steps to introduce the next generation to Jesus, but as leaders, we must take the steps to be sure our strategy is clear those we want to be on board with us. Take some time to evaluate what you are actually doing to inform the crowd at your church. Are you defining for them how to engage in your strategy? Is there a clear path for them to follow? Do they understand how the resources you provide for them tie to the strategy? Identify the areas where you need to put some action steps in place to make your strategy actually matter to those you want to influence. Yes, it takes time, effort, energy and resources on your end, but isn’t it worth it to ensure that the generation coming after us knows about Jesus?