There is a growing movement of orphan care within the Church today. As a result, many leaders and ministries are prayerfully considering how they can most strategically mobilize their people to care for the marginalized, the abused, the oppressed and the orphaned around them in an effective and sustainable way.
We're often asked questions like these: "How do we start an orphan care ministry?", or "What do we do with people in our church who are interested in orphan care?", or "How do we help equip our people to understand God's heart for the orphan and their mandate to get involved?"
Our answer is first a bit surprising followed by an unexpectedly basic approach for where to begin and what to focus on long term.
A CULTURE, NOT JUST A MINISTRY
First, the goal of your church is not just to start an orphan care ministry. Instead, the goal of your church is for the care of the marginalized, abused, oppressed and orphaned to be so deeply ingrained in the culture of who you are as a people that ministry to that end naturally and inevitably flows as a result. Orphan care cannot be a peripheral ministry in the Church but rather must be, at it's deepest level, a central and core aspect of the very fibers that make up the Church as a whole. In a sense, orphan care in your church cannot be exclusively focused on what you do (ministry), but on who you are (culture). When we shoot to start a ministry in our church we may never impact the culture of our people. When we seek to influence the culture of who we are as a church, ministry happens as a result. Transform culture, don't just start a ministry.
TWO ESSENTIAL PILLARS
Second, at it's most basic, fundamental level, the two most essential pillars in establishing a growing, sustainable, multiplying and mobilizing culture of orphan care within the Church are 1) Connecting people in community, and 2) Equipping people biblically. Here's why...
By the nature the Christian life was not intended to be lived in isolation. We are created for community with one another. This is never more important than when we are doing the hard work of engaging the mission of God in difficult places. Orphan care can be difficult. It will get hard at times. It will cause people to question whether or not it's even worth all the trouble. If going at it alone, the likelihood for people to be overcome by the difficulties and throw the towel in are greater. Community is essential in supporting, encouraging, praying for and holding us accountable to following through with the call of God on us and persevering through whatever may come our way because, in the end, it's worth it. Community is also a placed where we can share unique experiences with one another - experiences that those not engaged in orphan care may not understand but those who are can relate to and identify with.
At the core of our motivation to care for the marginalized, abused, neglected and orphaned is the heart of God demonstrated through the Gospel on our behalf. It is the Gospel of our rescue, of our adoption, of our being brought into the forever family of God through the work of Jesus that compels us to act on behalf of others and sustains us when the journey gets difficult. Our excitement does not carry us through. Sometimes things just won't be that exciting. Our comfort certainly does not sustain us. Things can get very uncomfortable. Even our happiness doesn't drive us. We'll get frustrated and angry at the process along the way. We MUST be compelled by a greater vision of God buried deep within our minds and our hearts that sustains us along the way and keeps us engaged to the very end. The goal of our equipping is to get the Gospel down deeper and deeper into us so that we can more effectively get the Gospel out wider and wider through us. When the Gospel compels us and the Gospel sustains us, then in the end, the Gospel will more vividly be declared through us into the lives of these kids God has called us to love. That's the goal.
ALL IN ORPHAN CARE
This is why Arrow Foundation has developed the new ALL IN Orphan Care Small Group Curriculum. It's two fundamental purposes are to connect people in community and equip people biblically. It is a turn-key resource that helps your church or ministry answer the critical "next steps" questions you may be asking in regards to how to cultivate a culture of orphan care within your people. Simply start here - give them a resource that connects them to each other and to the heart of God in the Gospel. Then, be on the lookout for more ALL IN resources to come that are designed to continually move your church or ministry from one level of engagement to the next and to the next and to the next. It all starts, however, with community and equipping.