Building an Orphan Care Ministry at Your Church

Often the question is phrased, “How do I start an orphan care ministry at my church?”

Right from the beginning, though, I believe you must be considering how to BUILD an orphan care ministry.  At its genesis, you must be thinking about the foundation upon which a future ministry will be built. No matter how limited or grand the scope of your ministry is at first, you can be sure it will morph and grow over the years – if it has a solid foundation.

STEP ONE

People.  The first step in establishing the foundation is to gather passionate people to join you.  Who are the people in your community of believers that can share your passion for helping the fatherless?  Perhaps you know adoptive or foster parents, or adult adoptees, or social workers that would come alongside you.  A potentially rich pool is anyone returning from having served on a short-term mission trip. Finally, are there any pastors or staff members that can be on your team and champion a ministry within the church?  Going it alone will almost certainly cause you more discouragement than progress. Gathering a team may take longer, but it is healthier for building a ministry that will last.

STEP TWO

Pray.  Wait, a pastor suggesting that prayer is the second step?  Of course, I encourage you to be praying about who will join you in Step One!  But, now that your team is gathered I highly recommend that you bathe this beginning in prayer.  Do not fall into the trap of dreaming and making plans for what a ministry will look like unless you have asked God to dream and plan with you.  Trust me when I say that everyone on your team is going to have a unique idea about this ‘cause’. One with a heart for orphans in Africa, one who feels we must empty the foster care system in our county, another who believes that the best way to attack the problem of orphans is to work to strengthen families in the first place.  All are correct; but doing all is not necessarily practical for your team. 

Praying together will ensure that God speaks into each heart and to all hearts collectively, and out of that will come unity and unity brings a focus to the beginning of your ministry.  Remember, this is a foundation – and foundations are meant to be built upon. The ministry will grow if God is in it, so where does He want it to begin? After all, only our Heavenly Father is big enough to handle the orphan crisis.  If you jump too quickly and too broadly, everyone will burn out and then give up. You are building a ministry with the long-term in view.

STEP THREE

Purpose. Through and following your times of prayer, spend time as a team brainstorming.  Fill flip charts with pages and pages of ideas. Ask questions like “if money were no object, what would you do?”  Find out what is already happening in your church that is in any way related to orphan care; perhaps this points out partners or even added team members as you combine forces.

Then, begin to consolidate the ideas down to the 3 to 5 that seem to resonate with everyone.  Pray further about how to develop a ministry purpose, or vision statement, or objective that will establish the ministry.

Finally, determine how you will ‘launch’ the ministry.  In 2007, our team determined that we would launch the ministry by holding an OrphanCare Expo which was the first annual event that is now known as the Imagine Conference.  That Expo was the beginning of engaging our church and the broader Church in the effort to bring hope to the fatherless.

STEP FOUR

Proposal.  This is the idea of getting your church leadership on board.  I’ve listed this as step four knowing that your individual circumstances may vary.  It is entirely possible that your best course of action is to inform your church leadership earlier, but then bring a formal proposal later after completing the first three steps outlined herein.

Develop and present a proposal that casts your vision (why do you want to do this?) and articulates your plan (how are you going to do it?).  Your plan should include a brief summary of the process you have undergone, a description of your chosen focus and why you’ve chosen it, the strategic objectives and specific steps you envision needed to achieve them, and a proposed leadership structure for the ministry.

Try to avoid a couple of pitfalls in this proposal.  

First, do not make a proposal for a ministry that you are expecting church staff to lead, and second, avoid building a ministry that competes for resources or focus with an existing ministry of the church.  In our case, when we made our proposal to the leadership of North Way we simply asked for permission to run the ministry ourselves and asked for no budget from the church. Of course the church is not likely to turn down the opportunity for people to do God’s work, and eventually because of the work being done we actually saw our church’s focus turn toward “at-risk, abandoned and orphaned children”.

Do not seek to start a ministry, but endeavor to build a ministry that will sustain itself over the years as it grows, changes, fails in some efforts and succeeds in others. -Randy Blincow, @northwaycc on building your church's… Click To Tweet

So do not seek to start a ministry, but endeavor to build a ministry that will sustain itself over the years as it grows, changes, fails in some efforts and succeeds in others.  Begin with investing in a solid foundation and my prayer is you will see God’s will, and it will run out ahead of your steps!


Randy Blincow, Executive Pastor of North Way Christian Community

Find out more about North Way’s OrphanCare ministry here!

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