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Changing The Way We Disciple A Generation

by Paula Forte

Instituting Orange in two different church environments, both of which were over 100 years old, has allowed me to be a part of shifting some of the ideologies, methodologies, and aspirations of churches seeking to serve our next generation. In 2011, I was looking for a curriculum that took the truths of the Bible and connected them across several age groups to strategically make disciples of Jesus Christ. Before mastering the Orange lingo, I was excited that First Look introduced my infants, toddlers, and preschoolers to the love of God. I was amazed over the intentionality of 252 Basics to help children discover God and why they can trust Him. I was impressed with how XP3 went even further to help students grow in their passion for Christ and their love for others.

I knew that instituting First Look and 252 Basics was just the beginning. As the team embraces the curriculum, we are able to partner with parents through Parent Cues and GodTime Cards and connect them with the same small group leaders who care enough to show up every week.

Methodologically, we moved from teaching random Bible stories to intentional discipleship lessons. The traditional Sunday school model teaches the most popular stories, at the most appropriate times of the year, hoping that things stick. However, Orange takes three basic truths and repeats them over and over again to ensure that the phase emphasizes the lessons that are most important as they strategically move from the cradle to college. Methodologically, we are less interested in teaching the stories, we are more interested in teaching about the love of God that is shown through the stories!

Ideologically, the environments changed from being Sunday-focused to being life-focused. Through Orange, we’ve come to realize how involving parents and the entire church community in discipling children and youth provides an awesome village for their development.

Our aspirations have also changed. They have moved from biblical memorization to scriptural application. We aim to help our students go beyond memorizing the lesson to applying the truths in their daily lives. We now seek to form relationships with every young person that extends our interest and care beyond Sunday morning.

In the two environments I served and serve, we started with Orange as another curriculum, initially thinking that would be enough. However, Orange is more than a curriculum to be taught. It is a proven strategy of discipleship to be implemented. If you stop at the start, you may miss the rewards that come with the hard work of implementing an entire strategy that is working to change the way we disciple a generation.

Paula D. Forte is the director of children, youth, and youth adults at First Institutional Baptist Church in Phoenix, Arizona.

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