10 things that will kill your orphan care ministry: Part 4

This is last part of a series (read parts 1, 2, and 3) born out of several years of consulting with and observing many churches across America develop orphan care ministries.

Over time, I have noticed some common mistakes that cause these ministries to struggle and even fail. I want to share those observations with you in an effort to help and to stir a discussion about the good things being done to minister well in orphan care.

8. Lack of pastoral support

One sure thing that will kill your church’s orphan care ministry is a lack of pastoral support. I have repeatedly heard this as a chief frustration of orphan ministry leaders who are struggling to keep going or by those struggling to begin a ministry in their church. Many times, it’s not that pastors outright oppose it as much they marginalize it by their lack of enthusiasm or weak support. The question is why?

I have found three reasons that many pastors fail to give their enthusiastic support for orphan ministry:

One sure thing that will kill your church’s orphan care ministry is a lack of pastoral support.

I would caution you about two things at this point. Don’t expect your pastor to have the same passion for orphan ministry that you do. Secondly, don’t become a clanging symbol. You won’t nag your pastor into a greater vision for orphan care. Give him good facts and resources that will help inform about orphans, but most of all, pray for him. Trust God to give him a vision.

9. Poor connection to the church’s mission

For orphan ministry to be effective, it has to be connected to the overall mission and vision of the church. There are two important reasons why:

10. Prayerlessness

One final thing that will kill your orphan ministry is prayerlessness. The world’s orphan crisis is epic. According to UNICEF’s estimates, there are approximately 153 million orphans around the globe, but the number really fails to represent the crisis accurately. This number represents children who have lost one parent to death, but it does not account for the scores of children abandoned by living parents, those living on the streets, those enslaved and trafficked, and those in countries (particularly Islamic) who fail to report orphan statistics. In truth, the UNICEF number is a statistic that is meant to underscore the vulnerability of children to the worldwide HIV/AIDS epidemic, not to account for what we would consider orphaned children.

God has given the responsibility of orphan care to his people in order to display his character and salvation to the nations, but we have to acknowledge that the task is beyond us. We need something more than the resources at our disposal to address the problem. Unfortunately, many churches make the mistake of focusing too intently on the tangible over the intangible. Instead of taking sufficient time to pray, they are drawn into the easy trap of working hard at solving problems for orphans without seeking God’s power, direction, and provision. We can’t afford not to take time to pray.

Being prayerless in orphan care is like “taking a knife to a gunfight.” It is a powerless, losing proposition. It aims too low. We will find ourselves meeting mere temporal needs with no lasting significance and no gospel impact if we fail to pray for God’s direction and provision constantly.

Prioritizing prayer seems oxymoronic to many, but it makes perfect sense. In elevating prayer, we acknowledge our helplessness and utter dependence upon God. Prayer is something tangible. It is communion with the Most High God. It is the most important work.

This Lifeline originally appeared here.