For the church to help those who answer God's call to adoption, she must be missional. A missional church has been defined as "an authentic community of faith that primarily directs its ministry focus outward toward the context in which it is located and to the broader world beyond."* Michael Monroe suggests "the term also clearly emphasizes a need to become intentional and focused in communicating and living out a message of hope and love."** Furthermore he adds, "Churches that are missional as it relates to adoption and foster care reach out to adoptive and foster families. They must determine to become intentional and focused about living out the heart of God for the orphan and loving and serving families who faithfully respond by adopting or fostering."** Adoption reflects God‘s heart and missional purposes in the world. In James 1:27 we are told, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." With this being central to God's heart, adoption and orphan care is in the very DNA of the church.
As an expression of our DNA, the church must move from thinking of adoption and orphan care in terms of private callings of individuals to becoming an integral part of the local church's mission, vision, and purposes. When we think of adoption as Christians we must not only think about individuals or individual families. This is sometimes an overall fault within the evangelical church. God has called the church as individuals and collectively to "Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow"(Isaiah 1:17). Jason Kovacs suggests, "All our orphan care and adoption efforts ought to be done as God's community (the church) on mission in this world by the power of the Holy Spirit. We cannot care for the fatherless as effectively alone as we can in community. We can do more for God's glory and the good of the fatherless as the body of Christ, with all its parts working and serving in the power of the Spirit, together".*** The church's attitude is reflected in the church's education, budget, and practices. We are not all called to adopt, but we are all called to fulfill God's purposes.
If the church is going to fulfill its missional purpose in the world, it has to be a learning church. The church that is willing to learn is going to be more effective in reaching out to all types of families. Additionally, the church will better enable its own people to express their desires to be missional through adoption. Churches need to become educated on issues that face foster and adoptive parents. This begins by understanding our own adoption into the family of God.
What is your church doing to care for orphans? What has been helpful to you? What can we do differently or better?
By God's Grace,
*Ronald Carlson http://www.nationalministries.org/missional_church/docs/MCT_Definition_Missional_Church.pdf.cfm
***Jason Kovacs, Glorifying the Father of the Fatherless: How Families Can Change the World for the Glory of God and the Good of Orphans. Together For adoption e-book. 18