A Report By Church Leaders, For Church Leaders

Throughout the summer of 2018, CAFO’s National Church Ministry Initiative conducted a series of interviews and surveys with 30 leaders of Member Churches from across the country representing a variety of church sizes, regional contexts and ministry structures.

The following summary report, along with the corresponding infographic (access below), provides a high-level overview of the survey results. Consistent ideas and themes have been noted to be of special importance and responses from church leaders have been placed into categories when appropriate to help identify recurring patterns in churches, leadership and ministries across church, contextual and ministry structure platforms.

Among other things, the results of this survey can help us identify consistent “bright spots” in church based OVC ministry – things that are working, moving and producing positive results. Ones of note you will find detailed in the report include:

  • Leaders reporting an increase in interest from individuals and families regarding foster care, adoption and providing support.
  • Pastoral leadership beginning to recognize the importance of this ministry (may not be full-endorsement yet, but at least increased awareness).
  • Churches putting more energy and strategic focus on supporting and sustaining families (foster, adoptive and biological families) to thrive long term.

As well, leaders were asked to identify the primary struggles or constraints they are encountering as they work to start, grow and sustain effective ministries. Among others, the most consistent identified included:

  • Leaders reported how it is increasingly difficult to recruit and retain volunteers due to the overcrowded and busy nature of their lives. (This was by far the most common concern expressed.)
  • Lay leaders consistently face a lack of top-down pastoral leadership support resulting in a lack of “air time” to the church and poor communication.
  • There seems to be lack of financial support for church-based OVC ministries as well. Many leaders expressed that there is no budget to operate for this ministry and families are having to look outside the church for financial assistance (for things like legal costs, adoption expenses, etc.) This lack of financial support also results in a lack of staff and leadership development.

Based off of these points of feedback, and the many other data points collected through survey, we can formulate strategies and resourcing mechanisms that equip churches to excel in those spaces of ministry that are “working” and grow in those areas of struggle. By identifying commonalities among churches and ministries around the country we can together find more effective points of collaboration, shared resourcing opportunities and maximize our efforts towards ensuring children and families are cared for by learning from one another and leaning on one another more strategically.

Want to know what other church leaders are seeing, feeling and experiencing in their ministries? Curious about whether what’s working for you is also working for others? Wondering if your current constraints are unique to you or common to others as well?

Access the full report and download the infographic below.