There’s nothing like learning from those who have already done it. Hope For 100 has helped a number of churches to begin ministries of their own. In addition, we have spent a lot of time sowing ideas and plans which have led to “stand alone” events in churches–as opposed to full-blown ministries.
Let’s not forget that at the bottom of this we need to pray– kind of obvious, but often forgotten! Because we feel we have a just cause, a brilliant idea or an inspired plan, this does not mean that it’s for everyone else–or that God has called us to it. So, we need to pray- or fast and pray- even better.
A few good starting places for those of you interested in this area:
- Define between “stand alone” initiatives and full-blown ministries. The first is far easier! And may be far more suitable for your vision. You need to ask questions from those who have been there before you. In particular, those who can tell you honestly about their mistakes! A ministy tends to be a bigger deal involving a group of people with a united heart. On the other hand, an initiative (for want of a better word) can be carried off by an individual with much less work involved.
- Be careful to recognise what your church is already doing! Many folk say to us: “Our church is doing nothing for adoption!” Often I respond: “Well, what is it doing?” We need to be swift to give credit to what has already been done. Dig around, and in most churches and you will find a way in which it has already served orphans. Missions trips that are orphan-related, Christmas gifts for CPS children are just two typical examples. One way to start a new ministry or to initiate a new thing is to build on one of these.
- Ensure that the Gospel is already being preached in your church. This may sound obvious, but it’s really crucial. Lots of good things are being preached in churches, but is it the gospel? The point is this: At the end of the day, orphan ministry is just an aspect of the living out of the gospel that is preached. So let’s get our priorities in place.
- Expect initial and ongoing opposition. I don’t just mean practical opposition–sometimes that’s the easy bit. The Bible indicates that we have spiritual opposition which counters us throughout the Christian life. Sometimes this can appear rather vague and sometimes it is pointed and obvious. With orphan ministry there is a particular opposition because, in a physical way this ministry mirrors the redemption of God by which we are adopted into His family. Caring for orphans is one of the most visible–but by no means the only–way of demonstrating a Christian life. So it attracts spiritual opposition.
- Assuming that you move ahead with a ministry or an initiative (see above for the difference), then set goals carefully and prayerfully. Goals are a two edged sword. They give us targets and perspective, but they also make claims on which we will be called to account.
- So all of us have got books to recommend- or we should have!! The trouble is having time to read them in this day and age. With that in mind I’m going to mention just one book that should be a must on your list and its less than 100 pages long. A Guide To Adoption & Orphan Care, by Russell D. Moore, Editor 2012. I always feel that Dr. Moore has got a particular handle on how to speak to the church–something that advocates are sometimes weak on. This book is a double blessing in that it’s so short, you can even give it to the busiest church leader to read.
- Choose partners wisely. When I say “partners” I mean those organizations you work with. Networking and partnering can be two ambiguous words in todays world. Its easy to give good will. Real partnership is when we are actually in relationship with those who work alongside us. Seek out those ministries/groups who are doing work which compliments your own. The best partnerships involve mutual benefits- so that we actually need each other.