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. The sad reality, however, is that some things in churches can function even if He's not involved.
There are also things in churches that quite frankly cannot be manufactured. Only God can do them. They are very different than standing on stage and inviting people to sign up for the church basketball team or Wednesday night's pot-luck dinner. There's certain things that quite simply cannot function if God is not in them. Only God can stir so mightily in a person's heart that they would sell everything they have and move overseas to take the Gospel to unreached people groups. You can't manufacture that. Only God could move among families and communities of people for the sake of rallying around the cause of abused, marginalized and orphaned children, opening their homes and reorienting their lives around foster care and adoption. You don't just sign up in the bulletin for that one.
When we planted Woodlands Point Community Church 5 years ago, orphan care was not on our radar. Not that we were against it, it's just that we had no idea God had that in store for us. If you had told us then what God would be doing now we would not have believed it. But God has done something we never imagined He would, and He continues to do something we could have never created or manufactured on our own. Through the context of dozens of families partnering together for the cause of the orphan, and many more joining in along the way, The Orphan Care Network has formed and thrived for the sake of resourcing, supporting and celebrating the calling of God on His people to care for orphans.
The question we are most often asked, and the story we most often hear, is: "We want to get an orphan care ministry started in our church. We share statistics with people about orphans and tell stories of what their lives are like, but nothing seems to be working. How did you start yours?"
Our answer, quite simply is: "We didn't. God did."
While we certainly do not have it all figured out, and are by no means experts, what we have found to be far more powerful and compelling than getting statistics, pictures and stories about orphans into our people's heads, is first getting the Gospel of their adoption through Jesus into their hearts. The story of our being adopted into the family of God through the person and work of Jesus is the only reliable and sustainable source of motivation towards caring for orphans. The fact that Jesus would so long to rescue us who were orphaned in our sin and go to such great lengths to bring us into the eternally loving home of the Father is what stirs in many and drives them to demonstrate the same. One of the clearest ways to tangibly demonstrate the Gospel is through the care of orphans - unconditionally loving the isolated and fatherless and unwaveringly ensuring for them a forever home they can call their own. This is the Gospel. Only God can do that.
Orphan care doesn't begin with the orphan "out there" who needs to be adopted, it begins with the orphan in you that already has been adopted in Jesus. Until our peoples' identities are rooted in the Gospel of their adoption, our petition to them to demonstrate that powerful truth through the care of orphans will feel forced and manufactured at best. The inevitable fact of ministry is that you are going to be busy, but you have a choice over what things you will be busy doing. Our commitment is to be busy stewarding well what God is doing, not busy manufacturing what He's not doing and trying to figure out ways to spin it as if He is. At the end of the day, the most all-consuming, eternal, Jesus-exalting things worth giving ourselves to are the things God is doing by His power in a way that only He can do. You simply can't "spin" orphan care.
The call to care for orphans begins with the Gospel, is sustained and carried by the Gospel, and in the end is one of the clearest and most tangible expressions of the Gospel to a world full of isolated, outcast, abused and orphaned sinners.
If you have any questions about ground-level, practical ways to begin organizing and networking an orphan care ministry at your church, click the "CONTACT US" link HERE.