As the wife of a seminary student (Yes…I’m married to a future pastor, but don’t let that freak you out. I’m not crazy.), you might think I’d be all about staff meetings that brainstorm ways to get “people in the pews.” That I’d judge church success and growth by numbers, charts and stats. No. The church is not a business. I don’t want to blog-scream at you, but NO. NO, NO, NO!
“Instead of Sunday morning guests, the new metric for the church should be zero orphans and kids in foster care in your city.” – Dave Gibbons
I have met a lot of “church people” (and that means everyone from evangelical fundamentalists to hip, emerging church-goers to strict Roman Catholics) that have told me that “the poor” mean a lot to them. Here’s my question: Is there a “poorer” group than neglected and orphaned children? Than those who cannot speak for themselves? Who have no parent who will advocate on their behalf?
How many churches boast about their service projects and missionaries, yet have a church body that lacks the heart, hands and feet to actually doing anything about it in their day-to-day lives? I know that wasn’t a comfortable question to pose (and a lot of people will want to defend how they are called to live a typical American life), but sometimes growth hurts. Sometimes change is uncomfortable.
Walk into an average protestant American church, and you’ll probably hear a typical, topical sermon series on: end times, marriage and relationships, money, etc. Church, we need to take the blinders off.
More than 140 million orphans and waiting children under the age of 18 have lost one or both parents. (Unicef)
We must become aware of the plight of orphans and at-risk youth in the world. The church is not called to turn a blind eye to the disturbing plight of our world’s children. Rather, the church is called to expose this shameful state of affairs by shining a light on the problem. (Ephesians 5:11–17.)
Your hearts should be broken for the children of the world. Millions of children right now are being mutilated, raped, forgotten, sold as sex slaves, discarded. There are children who are cold and hungry, and there are children being told that they aren’t worth loving, that they aren’t worth anything. Feel troubled and disturbed. The enemy doesn’t want our community’s, state’s, country’s and world’s orphans to be exposed.
God’s heart for the fatherless (which includes not just orphans but at-risk children) is a consistent theme throughout the entire Bible. James says serving the fatherless is “pure” and “undefiled” religion. It is not just a concern of God. It is a priority of God. (James 1:27)
Well, I’m completely fired up now. Orphan Sunday is coming up (Nov. 7), and there is an amazing website with church resources. For this post, I pulled some things from a sermon guide there. Orphan care, the church, and adoption are recurring themes you will see on this blog.
Guys and gals, I don’t think that caring for the orphan is something “some people are called to do.” I think as those who have been redeemed in Christ, we must take seriously our adoption into God’s family. When we begin to take what God’s heart is, it manifests itself in us as first acknowledging the orphan, then being bold enough to talk about and advocate for the orphan, then caring for the orphan, and then integrating the orphan into our lives, whether that’s through backing a Christ-centered, orphan-centered organization, starting an orphan care ministry at your church, becoming a foster parent, serving at an orphanage, etc.
More than one-third of Americans have considered adopting, but no more than two percent of Americans have actually adopted. (Child Welfare Information Gateway.)
I’ll leave you with this: Imagine how profound and beautiful it would be to remove a child’s “orphan” status by bringing her into your family through adoption.