Let’s start here.
We all agree that the church should play a primary role in caring for the orphan. Unfortunately, the “how to” can get lost in this complex world of foster and global orphan care. The heartbeat to serve orphans is alive in almost every church, but the first step is often the hardest. That’s why I believe that it is paramount to equip the church with practical solutions.
Before we unveil another “list”, let’s agree from the outset that the first and foremost job of the Church is to pray, get guidance from the Lord, and then act. (Proverbs 16:3; Psalm 20:4; Proverbs 16:9; Psalm 143:8; Proverbs 15:22; Luke 14:28; Proverbs 19:21)
How do we “act”?
I want to suggest three ways that every church can serve orphans effectively. Let’s think of it as our first step to allowing God to fill in the gaps of what we can’t know on the front side of a ministry like this (or any other). Obviously, every church has different strengths, gifts and resources. And every country, state and county within each state has its own guidelines which will impact potential partnerships, etc. Knowing that there are unique differences in every community, let’s take a look at three ways your church can start to transform your orphan care ministry immediately:
Explore and define your church’s vision for orphan care. Whether or not you have a defined vision, it’s important to explore what you are currently doing and why. This is a great time to pull together staff/advocates to talk about the perceptions of your current orphan care ministry. Don’t be afraid of this step. Think of it as taking an honest diagnosis of where your church has been and where you would like to go as a church. It is the step that will ultimately unlock the pent up care potential in your church with an honest assessment of your orphan care strategy.
Identify the needs locally and globally. Most churches have some connection to a global work. It may be a church plant in India or an orphanage in Honduras or some other global community. Whether your church is supporting these works financially or visiting several times a year, let me encourage you to consider identifying the needs locally first. Not that your global work is secondary, but as a church, you are responsible for the children in your own community….as churches in other countries are responsible for their children. Without going too much further down that trail, I understand that there can be greater needs in other parts of the world that need the assistance of our churches to even function. I’m asking you to shift focus, at least in your planning, and begin to serve as much locally as you are serving globally. This you can be certain of: It will make your global work more effective as your church serves and learns valuable lessons in your own community. Why wouldn’t we want that?
Own a custom-fitted roadmap that will allow your church to help solve the orphan crisis. Why not have a long-term plan for orphan care that plays to the strengths of your church. You have so much value to add in your community and around the world! Find out what’s at stake in your community. Find out what’s at stake for your global partners. After your team has discussed your church’s current orphan care strategy and identified the needs, you will be ready to own a strategy, one that fits under your church’s overall vision. When you begin to ask the hard questions, you may begin to uncover some bad habits, possibly even some pet projects that yield very little fruit. It may be that your church has been working in a ministry to serve orphans and has never seen an orphan adopted. In other words, your teams may have visited orphanages, played with children, delivered gifts and fun toys, but never actually have seen or heard of any children getting a forever family. Should this not at least be a goal in the back of our minds as we serve the most vulnerable? How can we come alongside of our partners to encourage this outcome? This is not, in any way, a slight to orphanages, group homes or facilities that serve children who are in desperate situations. Many of these are frontline heroes. We should all want the best possible outcome for a child. And a family should certainly be a priority. So, when your team is putting together a 1, 5 or 10 year strategy, make sure to ask the hard questions so you don’t fall back into those bad habits (there is a reason those habits continue – you must break that cycle).
Obviously, there is SO much more than what I listed above. Intentionality takes patience, time and a clear vision.
Can you imagine what your community would look like if each church in your community would use it’s gifts and abilities to engage in a long-term orphan care strategy for children in foster care and orphans globally? What would happen if every church in every country would see vulnerable children in their community as their responsibility? Countries like Rwanda and Ukraine have made that shift. This is how we make change on a larger scale.
Instead of being discouraged by the overwhelming statistics of orphans in our world, let’s get busy doing what we can do by equipping and engaging the body of Christ, God’s Plan A for orphan care. Then, watch Him do what only He can do.
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV
Maybe your church is ready for a long-term, custom orphan care strategy. More and more churches are realizing that there is something that they can do and that they don’t have to do it all. If your church needs help figuring out what that journey would look like in your context, that is our passion, our calling. We would be more than happy to walk alongside you in that journey.
For the Kingdom,
Founder | Exec. Director