5 Reasons the Church Can’t Outsource James 1:27

The Willow Creek Association blog today carries a short article I wrote titled, “5 Reasons the Church Can’t Outsource James 1:27.”  See below:

Barna Research last week highlighted the growing Christian engagement with adoption and foster care among its “Three Major Faith & Culture Trends for 2014.”

I’m seeing this every day. Across the US and globally, Christians are embracing orphans in amazing ways–from local foster care and adoptions to support of orphan care world-wide.

And this is key: it’s not just about lone families adopting or fostering or sending checks. It’s most of all about the local church living out James 1:27 as a community.

Why? Here are 5 reasons there is no replacement for the local church in caring for orphans:

  1. “Government makes a terrible parent.” Those are the words of a friend who spent 25 years in government child welfare. Good government can play a vital role in protecting kids from abuse, but government can never provide the love, nurture and belonging that every child needs most…
  2. It’s Hard. Every child’s journey as an orphan began with tragedy. Usually it gets worse from there. So when we welcome these children into our lives, we taste some of that tragedy, too. Loving a wounded soul to wholeness is a journey no one family should walk alone. The encouragement and aid of a supportive church community is essential.
  3. Loving Orphans Shows the World God’s Heart. Far more that a mandate from God, care for orphans is a mirror of God’s heart. Before Isaiah directed, “Defend the fatherless, 1:17″ the Torah described, “He [God] defends the fatherless.” (Dt. 10:18). When a church embraces orphans, we’re offering the world a small yet potent reflection of how God first loved us.
  4. Welcoming in Orphans Remakes the Church. Abstract discussion of “justice issues” suddenly become a precious child, now in our midst. The challenges and joys of loving this child bind us to each other, build community and deepen faith. A pastor friend described foster care in his church, “I see it growing our understanding of biblical love–that it involves real sacrifice; it gives like God does to those who have no way to pay you back.”
  5. We Can Be the Solution. If just one of three US churches adopted a child from foster case, there would be more families waiting for children than children waiting for families. Yes, the global number of orphans is daunting, but the local church in every nation can become the primary answer. What a way to bring glory to God and re-shape the world’s perception of the Church!

Want to learn more about how you and your church can wisely engage adoption, foster case and global orphan care? Join us for CAFO2014 at Willow Creek Community Church, May 1-2.

Yes, government and NGO’s have a key role to play. But when it comes to loving orphans, there is no replacing the local church. We just can’t outsource James 1:27.