Adoptive families crave authentic, supportive community, and there should be no better place to find it than in the local church.
Plain and simply, when families step into foster care and adoption, they enter the pain and suffering of another human being. In doing so, they often become the brokenhearted. In taking on the burdens once belonging solely to the child in their care, parents become the weary, discouraged, and overwhelmed in need of a timely word or helping hand. The church, by its very definition, exists for hurting people and should be the safest place for families to find the hope that exists in Christ.
Here are 3 ways to breathe life into your church’s adoption culture–
1. Encourage truth.
The “How are you? —Fine” scenario is cliche in our culture, but it shouldn’t be the pattern in our church family. As foster/adoptive parents bring wounded children into the church assembly–some of whom bring horrible life experiences and much ensuing baggage–we should welcome honesty.
“When we tell the truth–when we tell our honest stories in church–we will create an environment where foster parents and adoptive parents come in broken and leave healed by Jesus Christ, who died for us in the messiest story of all. When we share the truth with foster and adoptive families, we are going to find the healing and the redemption that are at the very core of our faith.”
— Kristen Berry, adoption blogger (Confessions of an Adoptive Parent)
2. Limit reach.
The need is great in the adoption community. Families need encouragement, funds, counseling, help, respite, etc. And sometimes in our desire to meet the needs, we try to do it all and end up burning out and doing nothing consistently. The solution may be simpler than we think: Do a few things well and look to fellow ministry partners for the rest.
“We’d all love to say, ‘My church does it all.’ You can’t be the one that does A to Z orphan care, but you can definitely be the one that does A to C orphan care and then begin trying to figure out the rest of the alphabet with people who do it well. More is not really what we need. Better, deeper, more meaningful, more efficient, more heartfelt is what we need.”
— Randy Doleman, The Orphan Care Network
3. Be a voice of encouragement.
All of us are equipped to say and do encouraging things for families in our church. Whether these are written notes or spoken words, little has as much power for good as intentional encouragement. And the best part? –there are 1,000 creative ways to be a blessing.
“I can remember standing in my kitchen reading a note with a Starbucks giftcard in it and sobbing because someone wrote, ‘I see you. Go treat yourself to a cup of coffee.'”
— Jami Kaeb, The Forgotten Initiative
The most compelling word in James 1:27 is ‘in’ because it requires us to enter someone else’s distress.
–Ryan North, TAPESTRY
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
*The quotes in this post were gleaned at the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) Summit 2016. To learn more–and to join us next month for CAFO2017–click here.
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