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Think Orange Group Blog Project – Chapater 7: Essential #2 Refine The Messsage

(picture originally uploaded to Flickr by JimmyMac210)

Today we are taking a look at chapter seven of Think Orange entitled “Refine the Message.” The contributor for this review is Kendra Golden. Kendra designs curriculum for LifeChurch.tv‘s Content Development Team. Last year, this team replaced traditional ministry department silos with the goal of programming for kids, youth, and adults with a strategic long term vision. Kendra and her writer husband Brannon live in Oklahoma with their 3 kids and 2 foster kids. You can catch Kendra blogging about spiritual growth at Metacognician and curriculum strategy at In On The Ground Floor.

I’m so stoked to get this chapter to review because this element of Orange is the one I spend the most time swimming around in. I had already served on our LifeKIDS team for a few years before I first heard of Orange at Grow Up ’06. I was halfway through writing five years’ worth of our elementary discipleship curriculum at the time. To be honest, I was so shaken by the ideas within this particular element that I begged our children’s ministry leader to let me scrap it all and start from scratch. After all, the conference theme was “Jump”–and I am a jumper by nature! But, that was not to be. We changed a few things, but mostly we forged ahead to complete the curriculum. However, that was the first of many steps for me towards refining the message.

If you haven’t read the book, let me first plead with you: Do not dismiss it. Simply reading these chapter reviews won’t make your ministry Orange-ish enough. Orange is a multi-faceted concept you need to submerge yourself in. Reading and discussing Think Orange with your ministry team or going to the Orange ’10 Conference in April are really the only adequate ways to process it. I don’t mean to make it sound complicated. It’s actually profoundly simple. (So simple they could pick a one-word color that communicates its essence!)

But don’t just take my word for it. Rather than only sharing my thoughts about and personal experiences with the ideas in this chapter, I’ll give you an overview of “Refining the Message” (one of the five strategies that make Orange Orange) by sharing the quotes from it that are messing with me the most right now. Below is what I highlighted with my commentary in italics:

p. 136: …you can change the color of something without compromising its nature. It doesn’t mean you weaken your message just because you focus on what your audience needs.
This is a hard pill to swallow for some.

p. 137: Think about the possibility of having parents and leaders who are connecting with kids and teaching the same thing, at the same time, in an easily applicable way.
Realistically, this probably looks radically different in each church setting.

p. 138: Saying less means you have to decide ahead of time what to teach based on the question, What do I want this child to become?
I love this one because it’s what I do on my team, but I feel tremendous pressure to “get it right.”

p. 139: Prioritizing content, or teaching less for more, is based on the assumption that all Scripture IS equally inspired by God, but all Scripture is not equally important.
Whew. That’s the one that rocked my face off in ’06!

p. 141: Churches have a bad habit of sacrificing the potential that exists in timeless, life-changing truths because they fail to communicate those truths in a relevant or helpful way.
From an argument supporting the word “relevant.”

p. 142: It is important to refine your message to a few core principles that help parents and leaders stay focused on the bigger picture.
Unless your ministry goals have clear, practical “handles” that parents can grasp, it’s not refined enough. Ouch.

p. 143: We have the potential to say things in a way that will make a lasting impression, a bad impression, or in some cases no impression at all.
Painfully challenging.

p. 147: Your message will be amplified when it is repeated through physical environments and caring relationships.
Any church can pull this off.

p. 153: Say less, say it for a reason, and say it clearer.
Then sometimes don’t say it.
But always say it louder.
Just be careful what you say,
And how you say it.
This is “Refine the Message” in a nutshell. Thanks, Reggie, for refining your message enough to sink into my thick skull.

So readers, what does refining the message mean to you?

What message are you sending to families? Is it the one you intend?

What will it look like in your church environment?

How will you send the right messages to your kids, students, and parents?

How can you use this strategy to communicate Orange to your leadership?

You can check out the other posts in this project:

14 Responses to “Think Orange Group Blog Project – Chapater 7: Essential #2 Refine The Messsage”

  1. Tom Bump February 7, 2010 at 9:54 pm #

    Kendra, did a great job of summarizing this chapter and posing some great questions. These questions are questions I still don't have answers for just yet. I do agree that saying less is great, but I have a hard time doing that sometimes. (confession is good for the soul right?) I do try to boil down my lessons for our kids worship to a couple easy to use phrases so to hopefully help the kids remember. We have tried to create a tool for parents to use during the week to help them encourage the kids to apply the truths taught on Sunday. I think an area that I'm going to work on more is learning to "Don't say it" to not give the answers or explain things to quickly. His last point of saying it loudly, wraps up for me what we must work on together, parents and leaders, to make sure that we are communicating what is truly important in a way that does leverage all that we can so that the younger generation embraces the message.

  2. Barbara Graves February 8, 2010 at 9:34 pm #

    Over the next 2 weeks, we are laying out our lessons for birth-5th grade for the rest of the year. This chapter makes that task daunting. We have accomplished simplifying our message all ready. We (the kids depart) have agreed that we want to teach the same thing to make parental participation easier for those with children in multiple programs, but to test each lesson towards what we want this child to become is giving me lots to chew on. I need to chew fast!!!!

    • henryjz February 9, 2010 at 4:23 am #

      I think you've got to give yourself permission to experiment along the way, too. It sounds like you've done a lot of work already. I would encourage you not to sweat over it too much. It's OK to make adjustments as you go, and then do major retooling as you plan for after this. God is bigger than not-so-perfect curriculum (as if perfect curriculum exists anyway ;) )

  3. Emily February 8, 2010 at 9:42 pm #

    The quote from page 142 really strikes home for me. In a world where we have ideas, thoughts, images, concepts being thrown towards us from all directions, it is easy for even pastors to feel overwhelmed by all the messages the church sends out. If our parents are overwhelmed, I can only imagine that our children are too. It makes complete sense to refine the message. What do want our children and families to know and do? For me it's that God loves them even though they aren't perfect, he gave his son for their sins because he loves them so much, and he wants to have a relationship with them. Out of that knowledge, I want them to love God, and then love others. It's really that simple. So why do we make it so complicated?

  4. Kendra February 9, 2010 at 9:15 pm #

    My husband just told me a message from Andy Stanley's series Go Fish on iTunes that simplifies THE message perfectly. God loves. God gives. We believe. We live. Like Emily said, I am looking at how this can become the bottom line in every other message we teach. :)

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