I recently had the opportunity to ask my friend Gabe Forsyth a few questions about ministry and leadership. Gabe is the Missions Pastor at Mosaic Church in Orlando, FL (a Champion level member church with CAFO) and is preparing to host their second annual Serve the City Conference for the greater Orlando area. He and his wife are also foster and adoptive parents.
He serves in Orlando as well as coaches leaders around the country who are launching and leading foster care and adoption ministries in their churches. He 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 put on the gospel as our primary motivation into this as well as building out extensive support systems for families within their church who are fostering or adopting.
Here’s what Gabe had to say…
1) What are you most excited about in your ministry right now? How did this particular thing come about?
I’m most excited about our focus right now on equipping and mobilizing our church around three primary focus areas of Justice and Mercy: Orphans and Vulnerable Children, Poverty Alleviation, and the Abolition of Trafficking. We chose these three based on the concept of developing a holistic Justice and Mercy ministry locally and globally. Caring for Orphans and Vulnerable Children matters a great deal to us, but as we’ve now been actively engaged in Adoption, Foster Care, Safe Families and Global Orphan Care for many years now as a church, we’ve recognized to interconnection of these different justice and mercy issues. Our focus now is helping people think more holistically about these issues and mobilizing people to engage not just midstream (Adoption, Foster Care, Safe Families) but also upstream (Poverty Alleviation) and downstream (Abolition of Trafficking). So I’m really excited about building teams of volunteers around each of these three areas of Justice and Mercy.
2) If there were “pillars” in your ministry – things you try to focus on the most – what would those be, and why?
We focus on equipping and mobilizing. We want to see our people living on Mission locally and globally, but we want them to be equipped to do so in a way that is effective and sustainable. So everything we are doing as a Mission department comes back to either equipping or mobilizing. Equipping happens in a number of ways from classes, to sermon series, to conferences. And when it comes to mobilizing, we want to help people take the next step so we think in terms of exposing people to the issues and opportunities, creating easy on ramps for people to get involved, and walking alongside those involved to become invested in a life on Mission. Our two pillars locally and globally are Church Planting (which includes evangelism and discipleship) and Justice and Mercy (which is focused on Orphans and Vulnerable Children, Poverty Alleviation, and the Abolition of Trafficking). So we focus on how we equip and mobilize our church to be exposed, involved, and invested in Church Planting and Justice and Mercy locally and Globally.
3) What would you say to someone wanting to get their church more involved in foster care and adoption? How would you encourage them?
I would encourage them to find those people in their church who are already passionate and involved in foster care and adoption. Listen to their stories and engage them in helping to tell those stories to your church. Empower them to help lead this effort in your church. Begin sharing the vision and building a team of people who will be champions for this ministry in your church. Consider how you can partner with your church in the things they are already doing. Does your church offer a parenting class? Ask if you can come share about adoption, foster care, and trauma informed care during this class. Offer your children’s ministry and student ministry to help train and equip their volunteers on adoption, foster care, and trauma informed care. Finally, I would build annual rhythm of sharing the vision from stage (think Orphan Sunday) and then engaging those interested in a clear process of equipping and taking their next steps to step into adoption, foster care, or wrap around care.
4) What’s one thing in leadership that, if you could go back and tell yourself 10-15 years ago, you would? Why?
If I could go back and tell myself one thing in leadership, I think I would tell myself to spend more time investing in and developing a small group of leaders and in prayer. We grew fast as a church and so I’ve always felt like we are trying to catch up to the numerical growth we’ve experienced. I wish earlier on in Ministry I would have spent more time developing a culture of discipleship and prayer among a few leaders and empowered and coached them to multiply that culture. I think so often we want to move fast and grow large ministries, but more and more I’m seeing the value of moving slower and growing deeper.
I’m grateful for seasoned leaders like Gabe who invest deeply into others and serve the broader CAFO church network well. To connect with Gabe, or another coach on the CAFO Church Coaching Team, you can contact us here.