Unfortunately, too many churches make the mistake of focusing too intently on the tangible over the intangible. Instead of taking sufficient time to pray, they are drawn into the easy trap of working hard at solving problems for orphans without seeking God’s power, direction, and provision. We can’t afford not to take time to pray.Read More
This is the 9th post in a 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 more thing that will kill your orphan care ministry is:
For orphan ministry to be effective, it has to be connected to the overall mission and vision of the church. There are TWO important reasons why:
- The mission of the Church isn’t alterable or debatable - Ultimately, the church’s mission is defined by Jesus, the head of the Church. What we do in and through the church we do under the rule and authority of Jesus because the church is His. The church’s mission is to make disciples because that’s what Jesus set us apart to do, and orphan care is part of that mission. We can’t lose sight of either priority. Not accounting for the sameness of the mission of every church found in the gospel will kill your church’s orphan ministry.
- Each church is set into a specific context. The time and place of its existence is part of what God uses to shape its unique vision. No two local churches will work to accomplish the mission of the universal Church the same way. That means that no two churches can accomplish orphan ministry the same way. Not being sensitive to the culture inside and outside your church and accounting for the uniqueness will kill your church’s orphan ministry.
How have you honored the timeless gospel mission while respecting your church’s uniqueness in building an orphan ministry? Let’s share some stories. Post them here.
“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.” - Mother Teresa
The number of orphaned and vulnerable children in the world today is staggering. UNICEF estimates that there are some 153 million orphans, but this number really fails to capture the actual scope of the crisis. The UNICEF number includes children that have lost one or both children to death but fails to account for social orphans who have been abandoned by their parents as a result of disease, addiction, or indifference; institutionalized orphans; and street children who may have no birth records and fail to exist officially to their nations governments.
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:
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
I have yet to encounter a church or orphan ministry that had unlimited resources. We all battle limits of time, money, and people as we seek to respond to James 1:27. With all the possible ways that we can respond to caring for orphans, we have to narrow the focus.