Orange: It’s not just for Sunday School
By: David Ibata
A Sunday school lesson, brought to you courtesy of Orange, is playing on the flat screen TV before a rapt audience of youngsters in the community room of The Salvation Army Corps in Dalton, Georgia. The theme of the month is, “Rewind: Kindness Deserves a Replay.” The Scripture verse is Luke 6:31: Do to others as you want them to do to you.
“A long, long time ago, in a land far away, there lived a woman named Ruth,” a video narrator says as he introduces the Bible story – as performed by animated Lego characters. They tell of Ruth’s kindness to Naomi, Boaz’ kindness to Ruth and the wonderful things that resulted.
Captain Storm McClure, corps officer, leads the children in a discussion; then, it’s back to the TV for a music video and the closer: “We should make an extra effort to be kind to the people who care about us the most,” the narrator says. “Be kind to your family and friends.”
It’s the Orange “252 Kids” lesson for the second Sunday in February. Except it’s a Wednesday evening in March.
The Orange curriculum is so rich (some might say overwhelming) in videos, music, printed matter, scripts, take-home materials and the like; and so flexible – outside of Easter and Christmas, a month’s lesson sequence of four or five consecutive Sundays can be presented any time of year – some children’s education leaders in the Army are taking it beyond Sunday.
They’re dicing, splicing, splitting up and recombining Orange for after-school programs, Boys & Girls Clubs and summer day camps.
“We appreciate seeing the curriculum and strategy used in whatever way fits our partner the best,” said Ben Nunes, strategic initiatives director for Orange. “What’s great about Orange is that it can be contextualized to fit almost anything. I personally adapted and used the First Look Story and Activities every day during bonding time to set a sort of ‘Faith Baseline’ for our newly adopted son.”
The 252 Kids curriculum appears to be the most popular among the re-adapters; some have combined a couple of XP3 series to set up a weekend overnight event for teens, Nunes said. Orange specialists provide support to these efforts.
Corps officers Major Douglas and Captain Storm McClure adapted Orange to their Worship, Education and Arts (WEA) Wednesday after-school program after realizing they had 30 to 35 kids coming in the middle of the week compared with 15 to 20 on Sunday morning. (The major theorizes that’s a result of children going to other churches, sports or family outings on Sundays.)
“We’ll use ‘Live a Better Story’ for the adults on Sunday, ‘First Look’ for the nursery on Sunday and 252 Kids on Wednesday, and whatever’s left over from Wednesday we’ll finish up in Sunday school – so Sunday is like a refresher of Wednesday,” Major McClure said. “There’s an hour and a half to two hours of material if you did every craft, activity and video.”
Captain McClure said, “The actual lesson is on Wednesday. On Sunday, we do the small group material, as we have a smaller group of kids that day.”
WEA Wednesday starts with dinner at 5:30 p.m., followed by a character-building program like Sunbeams at 6 p.m. and worship (with 252 Kids) at 6:40 p.m. The kids split up at 7:20 p.m. for separate band, dance and flag classes. “We try to keep to a tight 40-minute schedule. Remember, by Wednesday night, kids have already been in school five hours,” Major McClure said.
In Dalton, he said, kids’ worship time often is “an opening video, a content video and a closing video, and in between there are activities and crafts. The cool thing is, you don’t have to use all the content. The videos by themselves are 20 minutes. If you throw in some activities, you can build out from there.”
The 252 Kids curriculum also is the basis of “Orange Friday,” the Friday worship for the Dalton Corps’ summer day camp program.
For Bobby McFarland, until recently the Blood & Fire Initiative (youth) pastor at the Lawton, Oklahoma, corps, the challenge was keeping young people at the Boys & Girls Club engaged on Wednesday afternoons, traditionally the time for religious instruction.
“It was kind of like, you had to attend, and of course if you tell a kid you have to do something and they don’t want to, they’ve already checked out when you start talking to them,” said McFarland, who recently transferred to the Mountain Home, Arkansas, Corps.
“We had a sit-down and talked about what we could do to make Wednesday programs a little more appealing,” he said. “I had a wild idea. A lot of youth these days have shorter attention spans. These Orange videos are not long at all, and they come in increments of three for the 252 Kids age group. Why can’t we show the videos in order? We’ll play them separately, do some type of activity or recap in between; or we can play all three videos at once using a Movie Maker type of software.
“That would give me time to set up the activity from the Orange activity page.”
The Wednesday meetings were moved from the club to the corps building and retitled “Powerhouse Praise.” There’s a build-up: “Powerhouse Praise is coming!” “Powerhouse Praise is today! Who wants to come?” Attendance averages 12 to 15 youngsters, ages 5 to 14 years.
“The Bible portion of everything is through Orange,” McFarland said. The children “seem to like it, relate to it, understand it and grasp the key points of each lesson.”
Orange also is adaptable. McFarland recently used a pair of 252 Kids videos to bookend a Community Safety badge activity of preparing a Meal, Ready to Eat kit and packing a “go bag” with three days of clothes, material for a shelter, and survival gear including an emergency blanket and a flint rod to start a fire. “No, it wasn’t Orange, but this whole month with Rewind has been about being kind to each other. With 12 kids and one bag to pack, they had to take turns and be patient.”
“I appreciate the way Orange is very customizable to fit the needs of the individual corps. … As far as its functionality and its purpose goes, it’s awesome.”
Major McClure said, “Orange is great content. Why use it only for a small crowd on Sunday and not for the large crowd on Wednesday? I think it’s paid off. Our kids are hearing about Jesus, which is the whole point of what we do.”
“To say Orange is only a Sunday program is really limiting its potential.”