10 Things That Will Kill Your Orphan Ministry: #2 Too Much, Too Fast

This is the 2nd post in a series entitled “10 Things That Will Kill Your Church’s Orphan 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 more thing that will kill your orphan ministry is: 

Too Much, Too Fast

The scope of the global orphan ministry crisis creates a healthy sense of urgency in us all. Recognizing the enormity of the challenges posed by the needs of of orphaned and vulnerable children particularly the scores of children that will “age-out” of institutions this year, we can easily fall into the trap of rushing headlong into ministry without enough care or consideration. 

We have to balance the urgency of the need with our capacity to do ministry well.


Common Errors
As I have observed church orphan ministries, there are several common errors to avoid in doing too much too fast. Here are a few:

Alerting the church to the crisis with no plan for how to address it -  Remember the old adage, “To fail to plan is to plan to fail.” If you pour on the statistics and videos during Orphan Sunday but don’t give the church a way to respond, all you are going to do is stir emotion and frustration. Moreover, you are teaching the church it is acceptable to be emotionally moved but inaction is equally acceptable to God.
Failing to choose partners well - I will talk more about this in week 5, but suffice to say that beginning to work with an ethically questionable partner because you rush into a ministry relationship because you “just have to do something quickly to respond to the orphan crisis” will eventually lead to problems (and possibly disaster).
Missing opportunities because the church’s bandwidth is maximized - We can’t do everything, and no single church is going to solve the orphan crisis. You have to be strategic about growing in doable increments. If you stretch your people and resources to their absolute maximum, you leave no freedom to respond to great unexpected opportunities for ministry that come up along the way. Always leave a little wiggle room.
Contributing to the notion that orphan care is a fad - Orphan care is a marathon not a sprint in every way. We have to be committed for the long haul. If we begin with a big splash that gains a lot of attention but is not sustainable, we reinforce the notion that orphan care is the evangelical cause of the moment. Fatherless kids have been disappointed and abandoned enough. We can’t be guilty of contributing to their hurt. What we begin, we must be able to maintain.
“Slow and steady wins the race.” How are you building orphan care ministry for the long haul? Let me hear from you! Comment here.

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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.