10 Things That Will Kill Your Church's Orphan Care Ministry: #8 Lacking Pastor Support

This is the 8th post in this series entitled “10 Things That Will Kill Your Church’s Orphan Care Ministry.” This series is born out of several years of consulting with and observing many churches across America develop orphan care ministries. Over time, I have noticed some common mistakes that cause these ministries to struggle and even fail. Over the next few weeks, I want to share those observations with you in an effort to help and to stir a discussion about the good things being done to minister well in orphan care.

So, one final thing that will kill your orphan care ministry is:

Lacking Pastor Support 

One sure thing that will kill your church’s orphan care ministry is a lack of pastoral support. Over and over I have heard this as a chief frustration of orphan ministry leaders who are struggling to keep going or by those struggling to begin a ministry in their church.

I am sure you are familiar with the idea of “damming with faint praise.” And so it goes many times with pastors and orphan ministry. It not that they outright oppose it as much they marginalize it by their lack of enthusiasm or weak support. The question is why?

I have found that many pastors fail to give their enthusiastic support for orphan ministry for one of 3 reasons:

  1. They think it will take away from the “more important” ministries of the church like evangelism and discipleship, and they think it will sap the church of needed resources. Recent research from the Barna Research Group indicates that just the opposite is true at least for young adult Christians when it comes to evangelism. They found that engaging in social justice ministry tends to INCREASE evangelism in born-again young adults.
  2. They don’t understand the gospel significance of caring for orphans. Too often pastors see orphan care as, as we used to say in Louisiana Lagniappe—a little something extra. They fail to see orphan care and other mercy ministries as just natural good work that should flow out of a person who has been changed by the gospel. Matthew 25:31-46
  3. They fear that the church will be taken over by a radical fringe of passionate people that will distract from the mission and sap the church of critical resources. Just the opposite is more likely to be the case especially among younger Christians. Younger believers see giving and connection to mission differently than previous generations. They are less likely to give blindly to general church funds and pooled mission funds. They want to be part of the mission. They give to and work toward what they have a connection. Orphans are people that the church can reach with gospel purpose. It can give younger believers a way to be involved in the church’s mission financially and in presence. This involvement can translate to connection to the rest of the work of the church. The result is more connection and more passion for the gospel and the church’s work not less. 

Two things that I would caution you at this point:

  • Don’t expect your pastor to have the same passion for orphan ministry that you do. If he does, then be thankful, but if he doesn’t be grateful for a pastor who has a biblical vision of orphan care.
  • Don’t become a clanging symbol. You won’t nag your pastor into a greater vision for orphan care. Give him good facts and resources that will help to inform and expose him to orphans, but most of all, pray for him. Trust God to give him a vision.

How have you seen pastoral support make or break your ministry? What have you done to help your pastor catch a greater vision? Share your stories and ideas here. 


Rick Morton

Father to three transnationally adopted children, Rick Morton’s dedication to orphans extends beyond his family. Coauthor of Orphanology: Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Orphan Care, Rick and his wife are cofounders of international orphan-hosting ministry Promise 139, based in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. An inspiring speaker, Rick shares God’s heart for the fatherless at many conferences for pastors as well as orphan-care conferences. He and his family live in the Greater Memphis area.