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Commentary: How your church can start a foster care ministry

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As conversations about the overturn of Roe vs. Wade have swirled, Christ followers must ask themselves how they can become active not only in word, but deed. Rather than being known for what we speak against, we must seek the Lord and ask what we can do. In my opinion, churches should have an overarching pro-life ministry as a part of their mission’s focus. This pro-life ministry could include foster care and adoption, pre- and post-natal care, caring for vulnerable families, single moms, and many others. Rather than a ministry that seems like a niche for a certain population of the church body, a pro-life ministry can be joined by every age group. Pastors build a DNA of pro-life through action steps.

One of Mission Georgia’s five emphases is foster care and adoption. I am often asked how to begin such a ministry within a church. My answer is always to start with prayer! When my family moved to Georgia, I was invited to a weekly prayer call led by our church’s children’s pastor. We prayed and shared our thoughts with one another. Not a person on that prayer call was a foster parent. I was always moved by these prayer times and through those meetings, a ministry began. In fact, two of the team members became foster parents! As you begin to pray, the Lord will direct your steps. Formulate a mission statement and take your first steps forward.

Secondly, think identification. Congregants love tradition. They look forward to ministries such as Operation Christmas Child every November. Every year that your church offers an opportunity like this, people begin to plan for it. You may even hear church members at the grocery store saying, “Our church participates in Operation Christmas Child every November.” In doing so, people identify with that mission and your church becomes known for participating in that ministry. The same can be true of your foster care and adoption ministry. Your church becomes known for how its people serve in this capacity.

Next, develop a strategy. To build awareness, you should plan your messaging to be consistent over time. Small and strategic efforts build a DNA in your people toward an active pro-life mindset, serving vulnerable people in your community for the purpose of sharing Jesus. Don’t jump into a good idea if you don’t have the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the manpower to make it happen. Talented people are in your church body. Ask the Lord to raise up leaders who can use their gifts in this ministry. By providing doses of activity throughout the year, the church will gain awareness and move to action.

By providing small doses of opportunity, congregants are not overwhelmed, but are consistently being reminded of the needs of vulnerable children and families throughout their communities. Below is an example of such a strategy:

January  -  Sanctity of Life Sunday. Host a Foster Care 101 information breakfast.

March - Have a Sunday School class provide donuts, lunch, or snacks for your local social workers. They are the first responders and are often overlooked.  

May - Foster Care Awareness Month. Participate in Stand Sunday. The resources here are incredible.

Gather gift cards for foster and kinship families within your church.

Gather statistics for your county. When we say that Georgia has thousands of kids in foster care, that number can feel overwhelming, but what if you find out that you have 68 kids in care in your county? Your church may feel as though they could make a difference in that number.

August - Have a Pajama Day for your children and youth ministries.

Invite the entire church to collect pajamas for foster kids. Jambos is a Georgia-based ministry collecting and distributing pajamas all over the country for foster kids.

October  - If your church hosts a Trunk or Treat or Fall Festival, contact the local Division of Family & Children Services and invite foster families from your county to participate.

Because of the generosity of the Mission Georgia Offering, we, in conjunction with the Christian Alliance for Orphans, are offering a self-paced, ten-module course called Church Ministry Essentials at no cost to Georgia Baptist churches. This course gives you all the information you would need to begin and grow a foster care and adoption ministry. Mission Georgia also has many free webinars on trauma-informed care for parents and churches along with resources to help your ministry thrive.

Questions? We are here to help. Contact Mission Georgia for a consultation. We are here to offer mission opportunities and resources as we seek to provide gospel-centered care to every Georgia community through the local church. Let’s lean into our broken world for the sake of making Christ known! He is worthy!

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Tera Melber serves as foster care mobilizer for Mission Georgia, an outreach of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.

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