Writing Orphanology has afforded me an enormous privilege. Over the past several years, I have been able to speak in all kinds of conferences and forums about the church’s role in orphan ministry and adoption.
Almost without fail, there will be folks that will come up after one of those talks and ask one of a couple of questions. Their questions go something like this, “How do we get our pastor on board? We have a group of people that are really passionate about beginning a ministry to orphans, but we really can’t seem to get our pastor (or church leadership) engaged.” Or the other common question is, “How do we get the whole church engaged? We have a group doing orphan care, but we can’t seem to help our church catch the vision that every Christian has a responsibility to care for orphans?”
I have started to ask them two questions.
The first is, “What have you done so far?” The answers vary a little, but mostly revolve around informing. They detail how they have passed along books, videos, websites, training materials, and so on to pastors, church leaders, and the church at large with little response. I fear in answering these questions, our first tendency is to want to convince people through changing their intellect. It’s as if we think statistics and theological proofs will make all the difference. I would suggest to you that they won’t. It’s not that these things are unimportant, but alone they are insufficient. The problem in our churches that has led to not responding to physical needs in gospel-testifying ways isn’t because we are under informed.
So, the second question I ask is a little more biting. I simply ask, “How much have you prayed? How much have you really prayed persistently like the persistent widow? Have you spent as much time in prayer with the nucleus of people that are concerned with orphan care in your church for your pastors and church leaders as you have spent in gathering resources to convince them and time lobbying them to do more? Have you dedicated time to come together regularly as a group to go before the Father and beg Him to turn the hearts of your church and its leaders?”
I believe the MOST important thing you can do to bring about significant change in the culture of your church with regard to orphan care is prayer.
Often, our tendency is to focus on everything but. Prayer isn’t inactivity. It is superactivity.
Trust me, I don’t say this because I am trying to be a sanctimonious finger-pointer. I say it, because I am the product of those prayers.
In the story of our first adoption, I was the guy who said “NO.” My wife was convinced and affirmed from The Lord that this was theologically and practically a direction that our lives needed to go, but I didn’t get it. She didn’t argue. She didn’t debate. She didn’t lead Bible study sessions over the dinner table. She didn’t leave notes on the mirror in the morning. She prayed. She prayed a lot. She prayed and God moved. He moved me to think and to read Scripture and to wrestle and to be disquieted in my spirit, and when I came to the place that I was ready to adopt, it was my journey with God. That was important. It is important that your pastors, church leaders, and church own orphans ministry as personal to their being a disciple of Jesus as well.
I trust God and His Spirit more than I trust myself and more than I trust you! I think you should too. He has placed within you a heart for orphans and the desire to see your church engage. Trust Him back with it in intense prayer. He will not fail!
I would love to hear how pray has made a difference for you or how you are using prayer to bring about ministry to the fatherless. I would also love to know how I can pray with you. Please post your comments and feedback.