Stephen Curtis Chapman shares his heart about
church orphan and adoption ministry.
Excerpt from an article by Michael Monroe. For the complete story, please visit the Empowered to Connect web page The Safest Place on Earth.
It is fundamental that our communities of faith fully realize and embrace the lifelong journey that (adoptive) families are walking – and commit to being a church that will walk beside them each and every step of the way.
Churches that desire to become a “safe place” must:
1. Become Missional – ...Churches that are missional as it relates to adoption and foster care reach out to adoptive and foster families. These missional churches are willing and able to translate the message of hope and love being lived out in the lives of these families to the broader church culture that, in many ways, does not have an accurate, realistic and healthy understanding of adoption and foster care. In order to become missional in this respect churches must go out of their way to tell the stories of adoptive and foster families, and to tell them honestly. They must also more fully consider the needs and unique characteristics of these families as they develop and design their programs and activities...
2. Become Open and Willing to Learn — Effectively ministering to adoptive and foster families (as well as those who are exploring) will require that our churches become far more educated on the subjects of adoption and foster care. I believe that staff and lay leaders alike must become familiar with the facts and realities that confront these families and their children. This will require that they begin to listen, read and research as they seek to truly understand realities about which too many in our churches are completely unaware. It will require much effort to understand the perspectives and struggles of adoptive and foster families, and not so much to offer “solutions” but to learn how to better love and serve them...
3. Become Honest and Prepared to Get Messy — Adoption and foster care families are full of joy, blessings and hope. I believe these realities are what most clearly and fully characterize these life changing journeys. But they also have their share of loss, grief, disappointment, fear, doubt and so many different realities that result from our fallen world and our sinful human condition...
4. Become Willing to Change – ... Will we examine our children’s ministry? Our jr. high and youth ministry? Will we seek to understand and respond to the real and unique needs of adoptive and foster parents? Will we commit time and resources to develop an effective relief and respite care ministry for foster parents?
5. Become Committed for the Long Haul — Here’s a secret about adoptive families – you ready? The adoption journey does not end when the adoption is finalized. The adoption journey (on this earth) ends when you DIE! Adoptive and foster families need churches that are committed for the long haul . . . committed during the highs and the lows . . . committed during the times of joy and the seasons of pain . . . committed to celebrating the blessing and grappling with the loss and grief... This commitment must remain strong for as long as it takes and no matter what comes.
If our churches are willing to walk this journey of faith alongside the families that God has formed and transformed through the miracle of adoption and foster care, I believe that not only will they become the “safest place on earth” for these daring families… I believe they will experience the privilege of being part of something truly remarkable. They will serve as an integral part of the visible Gospel being lived out in the lives of countless adoptive and foster families, and all for the glory of God.
Be sure to visit the Empowered to Connect website for more great insight and help with adoption issues!