Imagine the Impact

A while back, my husband and I picked up the book Think Orange and started tackling it together during what had become a nightly ritual of reading aloud before bed. (What ever happened to that ritual, anyway? I liked that one! It might be time to resurrect it.) The tagline for the book reads: “Imagine the Impact when Church and Family Collide…” We never did finish reading the book, though I’ve been carrying it around in my backpack now for a few weeks with the intent of picking it up again. However, the basic premise has been helping me to re-think and re-vision what youth ministry looks like, feels like, and acts like in the church–especially in the past couple months as I have been settling into my new position at Epiphany.

Just imagine for a second… What if the primary mission of the church is not to help the family? What if the number one priority of the family is not to go to church?

But what if they are both designed to work together to show a generation who God is?

That is the question that is raised by Reggie Joiner, and a whole slew of other Orange Leaders. In the introduction to the book, Joiner points out some solid observations on which the remainder of the book rests–observations upon which most of us in the youth ministry world would also hang our hats, I think:

  • There are two powerful influences on the planet–the church and the home.
  • They both exist because God initiated them.
  • They both exist because God desires to use them to demonstrate His plan of redemption and restoration.
  • If they work together they can potentially make a greater impact than if they work alone.
  • They need each other.
  • Too much is at stake for either one to fail.
  • Their primary task is to build God’s kingdom in the hearts of men and women, sons and daughters.
So, if we really believe all of this stuff, why do we continue to do ministry in ways that pull already over-busy kids away from their families for one or two more nights a week? Why do we spend more time investing in kids than in their parents? Why do we continue to feed a culture of consumerism instead of building a foundation for faith that will last forever?

There is a culture that I am trying to build, a culture that I believe Jesus was all about–a culture where the home is the primary incubator of the faith that is fueled and nurtured by the church. It is my dream to see a culture where young people spend more time at church engaged in ministry with their parents, siblings, and other members of their faith family than they do off in their own little silo “youth ministry” world–a culture where generations collide for the glory of God.


2 thoughts on “Imagine the Impact

  1. Amen. I agree wholeheartedly that the parents are the primary disciple-makers of their children. The church is there to help. We as church leaders need to focus on equipping the parents for this important ministry.

    How do we do that? What does it look like? For Parma Lutheran Church – I don’t know yet. I have started having conversations with people about it. Birth-3 years ministry is key. Family Ministry is key. Christian Ed and Youth Ministries is key. All ministries working together is key!

    But what about the people that come to faith later in life? What about the parents who drop off their kids and leave? I have run after cars to meet parents. Building relationship with people who don’t want to “get involved” with church is hard.

    The only answer I keep coming back to is to model Jesus and share faith one on one by getting to know the people I serve.

    God bless you Erin, and keep writing.


  2. erin,

    i loved the Orange book and long for the hopes/dreams you articulate. However, I think many families and church folk just don’t believe the primary premise that our call is to be “image bearers” of the triune God in the world. I’d say people more completely believe that we are to be successful, wealthy and “good” – and the assumption that those _must_ be jesus like qualities. I’d say the reason that youth only-ish youth settings should also continue to exist is because some families will NOT be places where the kingdom brings life.

    That said, i’m not a pessimist or giving up. We are trying to teach the faith5 and create rituals/practices through which faith is unleashed in the life of the home. Perhaps the larger challenge is to realize that “family” in the eyes of Jesus is more than biological. (the same for “church” isn’t a location) The truth is, however, the change and “reality” i seek to create in the life of families is very very far from the dreams we cast.

    peace, bryan


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