Sometimes the foster care problem feels really big (because it is!), and our people feel really small. There are over 425,000 kids currently in the United States foster care system. No doubt thousands of those are right there in your own state...and perhaps in the very city you sit in while reading this. It's no surprise people in our churches can sometimes feel small.
Viewing entries in
Stories are redemptive. They humanize powerful messages and help people personally internalize transformative things through the lenses of someone else's experience. It's important that your foster care, adoption and orphan care ministry is consistently sharing stories of how God is moving in the lives of families in your church. It's even more important that your use of stories is helping, and not unintentionally hurting, the broader vision of your ministry. When using stories – whether video, print or live interview style – to undergird the vision and mission of your ministry, ensure they are reinforcing your message and deconstructing false paradigms of your people.
In a counterintuitive way, the goal of your church is not to make foster care and adoption special; it’s to make it normal. It’s relatively easy to make caring for orphans or kids in foster care a “special” thing because in many ways it is special. It’s a uniquely difficult yet rewarding place to engage a broken world with the heart of God. Yet for as special as it is, we don't want it to be a peripheral side-show in our church - we want it to be a normal, regular, consistent thing our church does – any time and all the time. That's a bit more challenging and requires a more thoughtful, strategic approach.
Imagine three friends come upon a raging river. They see children in the water rushing down the rapids towards a waterfall. One friend immediately jumps into the river and begins pulling as many children out as he can. Knowing there’s a waterfall downstream, the second friend runs down river and tries to catch as many children as he can before they fall to their deaths. The third friend, however, wonders why these children are in the river in the first place. He runs upstream to find out how these kids are getting thrown in and to stop whoever is doing it. All three friends are running in three different directions, but all of them are right and necessary places...
It was never God's intent for children to be without a family. It was also never His intent for the government to be the solution to a problem that only the Church could solve. In large part, the responsibility to care for vulnerable kids and struggling families has been inappropriately placed on the backs of politicians and government employees with the expectation that they do something they were never really intended to do in the first place.
Compassion did not ask me to write this. My experience with them compelled me to. If it's true that the best form of marketing is having a product worth talking about, then Compassion International is a marketing genius. What they do is worth talking about.
I recently resigned from the Lead Pastor position at the church I started. It was a painstakingly difficult process, but a surprisingly easy one at the same time. While it was not without its sleepless nights, desperate prayers and long talks with trusted confidants seeking wisdom and counsel in navigating a confusing and life-changing decision, at the end of the day I knew it was the right thing to do - it was time for me to move on.
There's an old pastor's one-liner that goes something like this: Ministry would be much easier if it weren't for people. Of course there would be no ministry without people, but this cheeky statement is a "half-joking" way of saying something serious - ministry can be difficult because people can be difficult.
Perhaps we have overcomplicated the process of trying to figure out what "God's will is" for our lives when really it can be much simpler. Maybe it's not a formula to dissect or a mystery to uncover but rather the process of understanding how God made us and trusting in the purpose for which He did.
Being a pastor's wife is a great honor that often comes at a high cost. While it can be incredibly rewarding it can also be very, very hard. I've obviously never been a pastor's wife but I have been married to one for almost 12 years. Much of what I will say has been learned by watching her handle the role with dignity, strength and grace.
We mean well, don't we? But sometimes our attempts to say something spiritual actually come out unbiblical, or at a minimum, not very helpful. Here's the 5 I hear the most...
There are certain things in churches we can create that people will participate in - i.e. worship services, pot-luck dinners, small groups, children's ministries and basketball leagues. Whether God is in those activities or not is irrelevant to our ability to implement them and expect participation. Of course, the hope is that God is in them, and that lives are changed as a result of them.
Below is the transcript from this past Sunday, August 18th at Woodlands Point Community Church. It shares in detail why I am resigning from the church I love and what it is I am confident God is moving me to.
I sat in a hard plastic chair on the back porch of a stranger's home in Lilongwe, Malawi. Charles, a local pastor whom I had met maybe an hour before, shared the story of how he had in his words been "arrested" by Jesus years ago - and since then, as a man bound by the Gospel, consumed with seeing the Kingdom of God overcome the kingdom of darkness in his country.
he headline recently ripped through the nation - "Doctor Accused of Severing Babies' Spines With Scissors in House of Horrors" - leaving a wake of shock, disgust and outrage, as well as resurfacing a never-fully-gone but all-too-often-forgotten discussion in the Church over protecting the rights of the unborn. acebook and Twitter blew up with trending condemnations of Dr. Kermit Gosnell's actions and a new wave of debate began over abortion amidst the fresh wounds of the most recent scandal.
Four things every pastor wants to say...
Jesus was the ultimate Church planter. He gathered a core group of followers, navigated the nuances of leadership and effectively started a movement of the Gospel that continues to thrive today. While He didn't plant a "church" per say, He did plant THE Church by planting the Kingdom into the hearts and lives of people.
I knew I loved my wife within 30 minutes after meeting her. True story. After walking her to class on our college campus and wrapping up our first conversation ever with one another, I knew she would be my wife. It was only a matter of time.
Many think, "If I preach it, they will come". Yes, some will come, but some will leave as well. There is in inherent offensive to the Gospel, in particular its implications for life, mission, ministry, values and sacrifice. Many will be attracted by the freshness and purity of the message of Jesus, and many will be detracted by the implications of what it means to truly follow Him.