I just finished reading Think Orange. I wanted to do a quick review and lay out my overall thoughts on the book and the movement.
First, I have a sense (confirmed recently in a conversation with LOGOS President Tom Beagan) that as far as ReThink and the Orange Conference goes, it is less about the person of Reggie Joiner and more about the philosophy. The Orange Movement is far more philosophy driven than person driven. I think this is a tremendous effort on the part of Orange and ReThink. As Tom noted, “You have to dig pretty far down the layers of ReThink’s website to get to Reggie.”
Second, that being said I find that I get a lot more from individuals who are working in ministry week in and week out than from consultants who have left the ministry context of the local church. One of the reasons why Dr. Denise Muir-Kjesbo earned my respect as a professor at Bethel Seminary is because she was not only a tenured academic, but she was spending her weekends working in the trenches of local church ministry and eventually planted a church in Sioux Falls, SD. In short, the best comments Reggie made in Think Orange are those that referred back to his ministry at North Point and other churches. There are chapters of the book that are based on other chapters/ideas from the book Reggie co-wrote with Andy Stanley (Seven Effective Practices of Ministry). Reading Think Orange made me want to go back and re-read the Seven Practices book!
When Reggie decided to leave the daily grind of full-time ministry in order to pursue providing paid curriculum resources, he dramatically changed the way he could impact the field of children’s and family ministry. I think he could have done more by staying in the church, because I’m convinced that the local church needs less incredible curriculum providers and more incredible leaders and examples of ministry momentum.
Third, Think Orange is by no means a new phenomenon. It is a rebranding of ideas that others have been thinking and writing on for a long time in other contexts. Merton Strommen and Dick Hardel of the Youth and Family Institute wrote a book called Passing on the Faith and it identifies many, many of the thoughts and ideas found in Think Orange. Rob Reinow, the marriage and family pastor at Wheaton Bible Church, just released a book called God’s Grand Vision for the Home. You can get more information about Rob’s ministry (Visionary Parenting) here. With both resources, you will find a much more robust theology behind the partnership between parents and church. You will find a pretty light and worn theological foundation in Think Orange.
Fourth, having been personally familiar with the material and themes I felt like the content of the book was old and tired even though it had a bright, glossy coat of orange paint. Philosophically, the book spends a great deal of ink focusing on the importance of the partnership between church and family. Yet, it seemed like so little time was spent on the practics of how to make that happen. I wanted to yell at the book, “I’m already on the bus Reggie – I already know that this partnership is absolutely critical, what happens next?!?”
Fifth, my favorite part of the book by far was the chapter on Elevating Community. It is an absolute must read and much of the material could be used in a training session for small group leaders. It provides a great metaphor for community.
Sixth, even though my review might seem harsh, I devoured this book like a wolf among small defenseless animals. I enjoyed it, I just wanted more from it. My only caveat is that there are other places to get Vitamin besides Oranges.