Most of our time is spent in relationship with churches, organizations, agencies, and ministries helping them think strategically through church engagement, discipleship strategy, leadership development, and building sustainable structures of ministry. It's our joy to sit around a table (or on the phone) with incredibly gifted and passionate leaders across the nation who are all working toward the same end – caring for families and kids in effective, sustainable ways.
There are two driving principles which inform all of our discussions around orphan care: We are unapologetically gospel-centered and vigilantly church-based.
WE ARE UNAPOLOGETICALLY GOSPEL-CENTERED
We believe orphan care is a gospel issue before it is a government one. It's the story of Christ interjecting Himself into our brokenness, in order to redeem us out of it (Galatians 4:5), which acts as a guide to not only why we must care for orphans, but how.
THE GOSPEL DOES THREE VERY IMPORTANT THINGS IN ORPHAN CARE
1. It compels us into orphan care
The work of Jesus on our behalf becomes the primary motivation for why we would work on theirs. He interjected Himself into our story, so we too must interject ourselves into theirs.
2. It sustains us in orphan care
When the work of orphan care gets especially difficult, and we're left asking, "Why are we doing this?", the gospel reminds us that the work is worth it — giving meaning to the struggle and context to the difficulty.
3. It is displayed through orphan care
Scripture is clear that caring for the marginalized, vulnerable and orphaned is one of the purest and most undefiled demonstrations of the gospel the world will ever see (James 1:27). The echoes of the gospel in orphan care are beautiful and vivid, and our objective at ALL IN is not first to call people to meet a need, it is to disciple people to obey a command. It's not that we don't see how overwhelming the need is, and want to do something about it, it's that we believe in how compelling the gospel is to raise up the right kind of people who will. We believe that before we have a local foster or global orphan crisis, we primarily have a church discipleship crisis. Over and over in the scriptures, we see Jesus making something abundantly clear; true followers and disciples of Him meet the needs of others — that's what disciples do. Our goal is discipleship first, believing that God will recruit who He wants to meet the needs we are all very aware of.
WE ARE VIGILANTLY CHURCH-BASED
We believe the Church is uniquely equipped and called to be the solution to the foster care crisis in your
city and orphan care crisis around the world. If orphan care is a gospel issue first, then the implications on
the Church are clear — these are God's kids, not the state's, and therefore the responsibility of the Church first,
not the government.
THE CHURCH NEEDS MORE RESOURCING, NOT MORE OUTSOURCING
Part of the reason for current child welfare problems is at some point in history the Church decided to outsource the care of orphans to others. It's time for the Church to reclaim responsibility. ALL IN is not an outsourcing agent for the Church, we are its resourcing agent.
We don't want to use the Church to promote and platform our work, we want our ministry to be used to promote and platform the work
of the Church. We do this in three particular ways:
1. Resource Development
We provide theologically-rich, practically-relevant and high-quality resources that help churches disciple their people and build sustainable structures of an orphan care ministry culture. Examples include curriculums, support pieces and strategy and implementation resources.
2. Strategic Ministry Planning
Much of our time is spent in "white boarding" sessions and around leadership tables with churches, ministries, agencies, and organizations. We work through "next-steps", best practices and building sustainable structures of ministry. Whether you're going from "0-1" or wanting to go from "2-5", there are strategies and principles to think and work through that can help you get there.
3. Teaching, Training, and Preaching
It's our joy to preach at churches around the country on the gospel and God's heart for the orphan as well as speak in conference settings, leading training seminars for Church, ministry, and organizational leaders.
Strategy, Next Steps & Structure
A Strategy for Starting
The goal of your ministry is always action, not just awareness. Be prepared to lead people to a place of deeper understanding; not only about the need around them but the calling within them, never allowing them to stay there. Always be prepared to help them take the next step, and don't let the success of your ministry be determined by how many people we educate but by how many people we helped obey.
Never introduce the next step in your ministry without knowing what the step after will be. This doesn't mean you need to know what step ten will be when you're just now working on step one, but it does mean you need to know what step two will be.
For example, don't preach on orphan care from the pulpit (Engage the Crowd) without having a follow-up event that draws the interested and involved out from the masses and into a room together (Build a Bridge). Don't then get those people in a room together without being prepared to introduce a new small group that is forming (perhaps using the ALL IN Orphan Care Curriculum!), training class happening or ministry event taking place in the near future for them to continue to connect (Connect in Community). We never want to communicate that we're going to call our people to do something but not actually help them do it.
Again, you always want to help lead people to the next place in their journey but never leave them there. Frustration and disillusionment are born there. Do your homework on who the boots on the ground in your city are (Identify Next Steps) — i.e. local foster care and adoption agencies, pregnancy assistance centers, family mentoring programs, etc. It is also important to research and vet reputable, ethical, biblically-based international adoption agencies so you can provide information for anyone in your church feeling led in that direction. Be a resource for your people, always there with them but also always one step ahead of them.
Gathering the Interested and Already Involved in Community Together
Want to start an orphan care ministry in your church?
Start small, gather the interested and involved in your church, and begin to form a community among them. If your church has 10,000 members, make it smaller by getting that cross-section of people in a room together. If your church has 1,000, make it smaller by getting that cross-section of people in a room together. If your church has 100 people, make it smaller by getting that cross-section of people in a room together.
Notice a theme? Draw the few out from the masses and give them an opportunity to be in the same room together. There's incredible power in looking around and seeing you are not alone, and community naturally begins to form as a result. Whatever fire is within each individual has now begun to burn collectively; better and brighter together. Whether it's an info meeting or lunch after church, Q&A time, or simple invite for a group to come to your house and talk over dinner, ask God to use it as kindling for the fire, and see what happens.
Wrapping Around Foster and Adoptive Families
If we're not careful, we may unintentionally define "orphan care" too narrowly — to simply mean foster care, adoption or some other form of bringing a child into your home long term. While these are, of course, crucial and essential places for the Church to engage, they represent only a few of the items on the buffet of limitless opportunities available for people to get involved.
Not everyone is called to foster or adopt. As a matter of fact, most people in the Church won't ever bring a child into their home for any extended period of time. But this does not mean they, and the Church as a whole, don't have an essential and necessary role to participate in for these families and the children they are giving their lives over to.
While we are not all called to do the same thing, we are all certainly called to do something. Perhaps it could be said this way; you're either called to bring children into your home, or you're called to serve and support those who do. These kids, after all, are God's kids and therefore all of our responsibility within the Church. So here's a visual to help see some simple, unique and diverse ways a community can wrap around and practically serve foster and adoptive families; and in doing so, participate in their calling and responsibility to care for God's kids by serving and supporting the families who have brought them into their homes.
Developing a Hoslistic Ministry Culture
Not only do we want to see churches establish a holistic message to their people that everyone has a role to play, we also want to
see them develop a holistic, strategic approach to how they are engaging in child and family welfare — from Prevention to Intervention
Orphan care is not a program to add to a church’s ministry Rolodex. Rather, it is an expansion of a culture that likely already exists. It’s our job to help identify evidence of that culture and provide necessary resourcing and action steps to build it out more. Generally, church ministries operate in silos — "That’s the missions ministry over there", "That’s the homeless ministry over there", "That’s the orphan care ministry over there", etc. We want to help them see that many of the justice, mercy, and hospitality related ministries are not mutually exclusive from one another. They are all on some level interconnected and part of the same continuum. When it comes to orphan care, we want to see churches engaged at every point of the “river” in a balanced, strategic and sustainable way.
We would love to connect with you!
Are you a pastor, ministry leader, non-profit or organizational leader working to engage churches and/or build out sustainable structures of orphan care ministry? We'd love to serve and support you any way we can. Contact us below and let's start a conversation.