Thinking 'Children' with Rona Orme

Posted by James Warwood  ·  Be the first to comment

Rona Orme is the Children’s Missioner for the Dioceses of Peterborough, but prefers to go by the title: ‘the good ideas person’.

Rona Orme

“I’m known as a good ideas person. People phone me up and ask: 'what can we do?' Then we talk through what facilities they’ve got and how many helpers they have until we come up with something that’s workable; I love sharing ideas.”

Her latest book, ‘More Creative Mission’, does just that – shares over 40 of her bright ideas. In her work as a Children’s Missioner, Rona spends her time training churches and encouraging children’s work. “I try to encourage people to think ‘children’ in whatever they’re planning to do. Often we forget to think ‘children’ when we’re planning an event or thinking about the budget; so I say to churches: ‘where do children fit into this?”

Rona began her missional journey in a small village in Devon. As many will empathise, she saw the numbers in the local church and decided she was going to do something about it. She started a family service, then set up a holiday club, then trained as a reader in the Church of England, then became the Children’s Worker Advisor for Exeter, and now encourages children’s mission/work in Peterborough.

But Rona still keeps both hands in the missional oven. “At the moment I lead WOW, which is Worship On Wednesday; an all-age event in a primary school. This week our challenge has been to say ‘thank you’; remembering to say thank you to God for all the blessing he gives us, but also to say thank you to the people we often ignore but have helped us in some way.”

“What gets me onto the next project is the buzz of the current project. I either think I want to do this again and I want to do it better, or in the middle of planning one event you think of an even better idea to do next time.”

Having spent her life running projects and sparking ideas, Rona has stacked up hundreds of tried and tested ideas for churches to reach out to their community. And the starting point has always been the same: to bless people and make transformative disciples. “These books are all about the circle of blessing – blessing people with God’s love so they want to belong; when they belong that helps them to believe, and when they believe that changes the way they behave so that they become the way God blesses the community. That’s the circle of blessing.”

“We’re told in the Bible to speak to the next generation. So I try to get children and young people involved in all of this mission, as well as the adults. Also, the adults learn and gain so much more when their children are involved too.”

The ideas expert also wants to encourage you, the grass roots missionary, to be ideas experts. Often resource books can suck the creativity from you, but Rona wants people to keep their ears open to what God is saying (that’s her big secret). “Sometimes God gives us our best ideas from chance encounters.”

“‘Movie Sing-Along’ (found in ‘More Creative Mission’) started because I bumped into someone in a garden centre who I hadn’t seen for a number of years. She said to me: ‘Our church is showing The Sound of Music tonight’. I was reminded of a dress-up event which was really good and it got my thinking that The Sound of Music is a hugely Christian movie and it would be great to mould an event around it.”

“So the idea is to invite everyone to come in costume, put the words up on the screen and serve hot chocolate and apple strudel in the interval. That would make a really good family night out, and it all came from an encounter in a garden centre.”

Rona’s Most Memorable Idea from Her Books

“Nativity from Scratch stands out in my memory (found in her first book, ‘Creative Mission’). I invited the whole village to put on a nativity play. There were no rehearsals. There was no casting. There was no nothing. I wrote a script and nudged the organist to play the carols and simply invited everyone to come dressed as their favourite nativity character.”

“I led everybody in the church right through the nativity. We ended up with 3 inn keepers - who got quite shirty with each other because they all thought they were ‘the’ Inn Keeper. It was such a hoot, just really, really funny and very memorable and people wanted to do it again. I did spend three days lying down in a darkened room afterwards but it was well worth it.”

Rona’s Golden Advice

“Number one, pray!”

“Ask for the Holy Spirit to direct you as you browse through the book. Secondly, see what catches your eye as being fun or inspiring. If you’re not excited by the idea then no-one else will be. So look out for something that makes you say: ‘Hey, I want to try that.”

“When you get to that moment, you need to check if you’ve got enough time to plan, because some of the ideas, for example ‘Advent Windows’ - where you make windows representing different Christmas Carols, would take quite a bit of time to set up. So it’s no good starting that on 20th November, that needs to be planned in September. They are the two biggest mistakes we make: not spending enough time in prayer, and not leaving ourselves enough time in planning and preparation.”

Rona’s Recommendations

“I’ve found the John Ortberg book, The Me I Want To Be, to be warm, amusing, inspiring; I was going to say that, but I’ve just finished a book called ‘Making Disciples in Messy Church’ by Paul Moore.”

“It’s got lots of practical advice on helping all ages grow up into the full stature of Christ. I’ve been absolutely blown away by it. It’s more for leaders and anyone who wants to think about how we disciple newer Christians, whereas ‘The Me I Want To Be’ is a great book for anybody.”

31st May

May 31st, 2013 - Posted & Written by James Warwood

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