Learning and Leading: An Interview With Kari Stewart

I recently had the opportunity to ask my friend Kari Stewart a few questions about ministry and leadership. Kari is the Missions Director at Timberline Church in Fort Collins, CO (a Champion level member church with CAFO) and the Director of the Northern Colorado Christian Alliance for Orphans.

She serves families in Fort Collins and across Colorado as well as coaches leaders around the country who are launching and leading foster care and adoption ministries in their churches. She is a deep well of wisdom rooted in a love for Christ and extensive experience serving and shepherding people in a local church context.

I particularly love how  much focus they are putting on preparing and equipping families before they bring children into their homes!

Here’s what Kari had to say…

1) What are you most excited about in your ministry right now? How did this particular thing come about? 

When we know our story, we are better able to assist others with theirs. That’s why we’re utilizing something called “Storybook Counseling” –  asking prospective foster and adoptive families to commit to an eight week group session that will help them identify their story and identify areas of strength and potential challenges as they begin their journey.  We are finding that we  have had so many couples present with significant challenges in their marriage this year.  We want to be on the preventative side of helping families be prepared rather than on the other side of a marriage in crisis while they are in the middle of parenting children who are displaying challenging behaviors in their home.

2) If there were “pillars” in your ministry – things you try to focus on the most – what would those be, and why?

1) Healthy People

2) Healthy Marriage 

3) Healthy Family

 If people, marriages and families are not healthy, they will not be successful in opening their hearts and homes to vulnerable children and teens.

3) What would you say to someone wanting to get their church more involved in foster care and adoption? How would you encourage them?

Pray – Fast – Pray – Fast – Meet with your local child welfare agency(ies).  

Start being present in conversations of foster, adoption and kinship.

Be a listener first.

Create a needs assessment for those that attend your church.

Create a needs assessment for your community.  What services are already provided, where are their gaps?

Ask for a meeting with someone on staff at your church to see how and where this ministry should fit into the current structure at your church.

Be present however your church will allow. 

4) What’s one thing in leadership that, if you could go back and tell yourself 10-15 years ago, you would? Why?  

LOL!!  This is good. Get disciplined in the disciplines!  OVC Ministry is a marathon that will suck the life right out of you if you do not invest in your soul.  Fill your soul with God’s Word,  Prayer, Praise, and Solitude – to name just a few.  It is in these times of refreshment that we are nourished for the task that God has put before us.  

I’m grateful for seasoned leaders like Kari who invest deeply into others and serve the broader CAFO church network well. To connect with Kari, or another coach on the CAFO Church Coaching Team, you can contact us here.