Orange Phase

It’s just a phase.

This is something parents say to themselves when their kids do something, well, not so great, and continue to do that said thing, over and over again.

i can’t tell you how many times i’ve thought, hoped, prayed, that this was true of my kids! “Oh, good Lord (read Laaawwwwdddd!), let this be a phase!”

And wouldn’t you know that often times kids will grow out of that phase just to get themselves into another one.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could identify these phases that kids go through?  What if we could determine the most pressing needs of our kids as they go through these phases?

Maybe that would help us to know our kids better; to know where they are developmentally.  Maybe that would relieve some parental anxiety as we wonder whether “normal” kids behave as ours do.  Perhaps that would help us to meet their actual needs instead of merely disciplining their behaviors misbehaviors.

Well, the wonderful people at Orange (i’m sure they’re all wonderful!) have taken on this endeavor calling it The Phase Project.  They’ve identified 13 phases that kids move through from the time they are born to the time they turn 18.

Lord (read Lord :)) willing, i’ll write a series about the middle and high school phases.  For now, it might be helpful to give you some basic information about the Phase Project (i’ll just call it Phase from here on out).

Just as educators, pediatricians, and toy developers pour in significant amounts of time, effort, and investment to influence kids, so should “…any church that wants to help kids grow in their relationship with God.  You have to make an ongoing investment learning about kids if you hope to have consistent influence with kids.”1

With this in mind, they’ve done a great deal of research to learn all that they can about how kids learn and develop:

  • met with over a dozen licensed professional counselors
  • surveyed 250 state teachers of the year
  • dialogued with hundreds of age-group ministry staff
  • collaborated with 13 national leaders and authors
  • read more than a hundred books and periodicals.2

That said, they insist that this is not a be-all-end-all resource, but a beginning point; a place to begin an on-going conversation.

So, what does a phase entail?

  • A phase is defined as a time frame in a kid’s life when you can leverage distinctive opportunities to influence their future.
  • Every phase is crucial.
  • Every phase has it’s own significant relationships, present realities, and distinctive opportunities.3

What’s their primary concern?

They want kids to experience God’s unconditional love and forgiveness.

What’s my primary concern?

As far as i can tell, Phase is a fantastic resource for both parents and leaders.  However, of all the resources they could have pooled from, one glaring omission is that of Scripture.  What does the Bible have to say about how kids learn and develop?  Is there a scriptural precedent or basis for phases?  How do their findings match up with the truth of Scripture?

Perhaps i’ve just missed it.  Nonetheless, i’m looking forward to learning more.  Praying that you and i will find Phase a useful tool; that we can contribute to the ongoing conversation; that we are better ministers for it; that our kids not only experience God’s unconditional love and forgiveness, but that they would know and love the God whom they’ve experienced; and that God is glorified through it all.

  1. Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy.  It’s Just a Phase So Don’t Miss It: Why Every Life Stage of a Kid Matters and At Least 13 Things Your Church Should Do About It.  (Cumming, GA: Orange, 2015), 8.
  2. Ibid., 9.
  3. Ibid., 10, 13.