Rick Morton, Vice President of Engagement
This is the 4th 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. 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, two more things that will kill your orphan care ministry is:
#7 A Lack Of Focus
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.
Failing to narrow the focus will mean that your ministry will:
- Struggle to invest enough in resources to make a discernible impact
- Have difficulty in explaining exactly what it is you are doing, where you are doing it, and with whom you are doing it
- Find it easy to move from one project to another without much loyalty or direction
- Find it difficult to know how to say “yes” or “no” to partnership opportunities with any degree of objectivity. Ultimately, this usually leads to hurt feelings as you will have to say no to projects that people in your church as passionate about as a result of a lack of resources. Without a clearly defined focus, I have seen too many of people take not picking their favorite project personally and lead them to become estranged from a church. Without some simply aligned goals and objectives that everyone can clearly understand, those decisions can appear arbitrary and aren’t easily explained.
To combat this problem, you need to:
- Align with the mission, vision, and values of the church as a whole
- Choose a few strategic areas of work and stick to them – one idea is to think about looking for projects/ministry partners in places where the church already has missions partnerships
- As you consider partnerships/programs, think how you will explain to people how this new ministry opportunity fits into your overall orphan ministry strategy and is in keeping with your church’s mission, vision, and values. If you can explain it in these terms in 2 minutes or less, it’s likely a partnership or program worth considering.
How do you maintain focus in your ministry? We would love to partner with your church to help challenge and equip your members to share the reality, communicate God’s call, and find practical ways to respond. We also have created a resource page that we hope will bring momentum to your church in caring for the fatherless. Visit lifelinechild.org/orphan-sunday for more information.
#8 Lack of 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’s 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 churchlike 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 missionand 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? We would love to partner with your church to help challenge and equip your members to share the reality, communicate God’s call, and find practical ways to respond. We also have created a resource page that we hope will bring momentum to your church in caring for the fatherless. Visit the Orphan Sunday page for more information.