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At the beginning of the Christian church, followers of Christ were known as people who would put their lives and their comforts on the line for the sake of the poor, the sick, the widowed, and the orphaned. Throughout history this reputation for caring for “the least of these” has fluctuated. Through some seasons the church has done very well, through others it has been found lacking.
I’m glad to see that the church is getting back on track. Christians are making the decision to act on behalf of the orphan and waiting child. Some are deciding to adopt, others are engaging in foster care, and many are making the strategic decision to mobilize their entire church to care for orphans and waiting children. The results are staggering: one church mobilized its community to adopt over 40 children from two orphanages in Kazakhstan. Another church is adopting and caring for over 70 children in foster care. Still another is working to bring about the adoption of almost 800 waiting children in its state’s foster care system. Scores of other churches are revolutionizing orphan care as we know it by their involvement in the lives of thousands of orphans and waiting children in the U.S. and around the world.
Almost all of these churches have one thing in common: their work with orphans began with the vision of one person. Maybe for your church, that person is you.
If so, we want to help. We have created this guide to provide you with the practical information you need to mobilize allies and successfully launch orphans ministry in your church. In addition to providing information, we have also provided On-Board Tools that will help you execute each of the eight steps involved in the process.
As you read this guide, I believe your vision for what God can do through your church will expand. My hope is that you will gain confidence to step out in faith on behalf of these precious children and, as Psalm 82:3 says, “Vindicate the weak and fatherless.”
At this unique time in history, God is working among His church to care for the orphan in unprecedented ways. I look forward to hearing how God uses you and your church.
Little Rock, Arkansas
STEP 1: Approach a key leader with your vision
In order to start the process, someone in a key position of leadership needs to know your intentions and have the opportunity to guide your efforts. You will need to find the right leader in your church and help them to understand both your desire to start an orphans ministry and your intentions to assemble a team of people and a plan of action.
STEP 2: Identify passionate families to join you in prayer
Likely there are people in your church right now who would love to give their time and talents to the needs of the orphan. Your job is to identify them and then lead them to earnestly seek God’s direction for next steps.
STEP 3: Dream together about the possibilities
Through the process of seeking God’s will and talking together, there will be many ideas and dreams that come to mind. Collect those ideas and prayerfully begin to determine what kinds of things God has put in the heart of your team.
STEP 4: Determine your channels of orphans ministry
Thus far some ideas have surfaced regarding the general direction your ministry will go. You will find yourself moving toward at least one of the three channels of orphans ministry, if not all three: 1) Orphan Care, 2) Adoption – international and private domestic, and 3) Foster Care and Foster Care Adoption
STEP 5: Plan the strategies of your ministry
Look at your current situation and your long-term goals and to determine the strategies that will best help accomplish the objectives God has given you. These strategies can be categorized into five modes: 1) Prayer, 2) Physical Needs, 3) Financial Assistance, 4) Education, Awareness, and Recruitment, and 5) Support Ministry. Each of these modes can be executed in context of the three channels discussed in Step 4.
STEP 6: Establish the proposed leadership structure of your ministry
You have managed to accomplish several important steps. Now it is time to formalize the leadership structure of your proposed ministry and to assign specific leadership roles.
STEP 7: Develop a formal proposal for church leadership
You have the basic building blocks to assemble a good plan for your church leaders to consider. Now you need to merge everything you have developed into one cohesive and well-conceived plan that you will present to the key leaders in your church for their approval and blessing (pastoral staff, elders, deacons, board of trustees, etc).
STEP 8: Launch your orphans ministry
The launch of your church’s orphans ministry is an exciting time. Engaging the entire church at this stage is a key to gaining momentum and building your ministry. Once you have launched, it is time to implement your first initiatives, work in partnership with others and celebrate what God does.