By Sandii Peiffer
Zion United Methodist Church in York is reclaiming the lost tradition of families worshipping together, but definitely not in the way it has always been done. Leaders at Zion were intentional about creating a worship environment that was both meaningful and appropriate, where children could learn how to worship together with their families, not just learn how to sit through adult-oriented worship.
It is all part of a new ministry stretegy with children, youth, and their families, utilizing a curriculm called Orange.
Orange is a comprehensive curriculum strategy for ministry with children and youth/students, created by The ReThink Group. The Orange curriculum (whatisorange.com) centers around:
- 3 Stages of Life
- 2 Influences
- 1 End in Mind
The foundational concepts for the preschool curriculum are: God Loves You; God made You; and God Wants to be Your Friend Forever, with the purpose to “Incite wonder in the heart of a preschooler.”
The curriculum for elementary age children focuses on the concepts that: I need to make the wise choice; I can trust God no matter what; and I should treat others the way I want to be treated, with the goal of “provoking discovery in the heart of a child.”
The curriculum for youth and student ministries steps up the concepts and tools for living a life of faith even further.
Rather than the old Sunday school model of hearing a different Bible story every week, Orange introduces a theme, such as “gratitude,” which is explored in depth for a whole month, and by the end of the month the kids and their families really know and understand that theme, and what it looks like at home, in school, and wherever they go.
“It’s all about getting children and their parents on the same page, and equipping parents with the tools to carry on the conversations at home and make God a part of every day,” said April Urranaga, Director of Children’s Ministry at Zion.
Zion UMC takes it a step futher by using the Orange concepts and themes to create the FX Family Experience, a “VBS-style” family worship service held about five times a year that brings everything together in an intergenerational, interactive, multi-sensory worship experience.
“It’s given kids an opportunity to sit in a worship service where they are connected and engaged and participating in a meaningful way.”
In addition to drawing families together in worship, FX gives adults a chance to work alongside and mentor youth and children in creating and leading the worship time (including stage crew), and it also attracts artists and others from the community to participate.