Our experience with foster care in our own family and encouraging and advocating for foster care and adoption in our church has taught us a few ways a pastor can help cultivate a heart for foster care in his church.

Editor’s Note: A pastor who recently opened his home to foster children wrote this article. He has asked to remain anonymous.

Our family dinners have been loud lately. Twin infants have a way of making mealtime chaotic. Our twin foster boys are busy right now during dinner trying new foods in their high chairs, throwing spoons on the ground for my wife and me to retrieve, and trying to feed the cat baby food. 

When you add our three older kids talking about skiing with friends, youth group, and the latest Star Wars movie – all while trying to make the babies laugh – dinner is anything but calm. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. There is a palpable joy with these two little guys in our home – a joy our entire family would miss out on if we were not fostering.

There were no high chairs at our table just a few months ago. But God had other plans, plans that developed over the years. Our experience with foster care in our own family and encouraging and advocating for foster care and adoption in our church has taught us a few ways a pastor can help cultivate a heart for foster care in his church.

Develop a heart for the fatherless rooted in Scripture

Do the people in your church know God talks about caring for the “fatherless and widows” over 40 times in his Word? A mark of God’s people is that they are concerned about the “fatherless” (i.e., children without parents) and seek to care for them.

Fostering a heart for foster care in your church starts with your own heart. 

Have you looked up the 39 verses in the Old Testament about caring for the fatherless in addition to the New Testament exhortation of James 1:27: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction…” If you don’t have convictions to care for the fatherless rooted in Scripture, it is unlikely your church will. However, a pastor who teaches God’s heart on foster care from Scripture will probably lead a church that develops a church culture for foster care. 

A huge part of me being willing to take the next step in foster care was a pastor friend challenging me that the love of Jesus doesn’t insulate itself from being hurt. The love of Jesus sees the needs of others and sacrificially meets them. Maybe foster care in your church begins with meeting the needs of foster care facilities and organisations in another country and then expands to a school supply drive or other necessities for foster kids in your area.

Develop pro-life convictions rooted in Scripture

You can develop pro-life convictions rooted in Scripture by planning to preach God’s word about the unborn, maybe on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Do a Bible study on verses that show God’s thoughts on the unborn. You could include Genesis 1:27, Exodus 1:16-22; 4:11; 21:22-25; Job 10:11-12; 31:15; Psalm 14:4; 22:9-10; 127:3-5; 139:13; Isaiah 45:9-11; 49:15; Jeremiah 1:5; Luke 1:41-44; and Galatians 1:15. Go deep in the Scriptures and make your pro-life convictions your own before sharing your beliefs. When you teach about pro-life issues consistently, your church will begin to reflect God’s heart on these pressing issues. 

If we believe abortion is the taking of an innocent human life, we cannot be silent about our generation’s greatest human rights atrocity. Once pro-life convictions have been developed from Scripture, we will see the Bible’s concern for life means that we care for life both before and after birth.

If the pro-choice answer to unwanted babies is death, and the pro-life and biblical answer is life, Christians must be involved in caring for unwanted or abused babies and children. If they are born, they will need care.

Develop a culture of support and care for foster and adoptive families

A phone call can change a foster family’s lives. This is an ideal moment for churches with God’s heart for foster care to help those families with meals, supplies, and prayer. Churches can also help adoptive families during the stressful but exciting season of initial adoption. A church can support these families by sharing needs with the congregation, just as they may share the needs of a family with a new baby in the home. The transition to new kids in the home can be challenging, but with support, it can be a special time of bonding and hope.

Church leadership can lead the way in showing grace to foster and adoptive families.

There is always trauma involved for children displaced from their family of origin. Foster and adopted children may act out, and at first, it may be hard for the family to be involved in the church like before. Be patient and pray for them.

Foster families sometimes need respite care for holiday time or occasional events. Families and singles within the church can provide support by asking how to get certified for respite care. How encouraging to leave your foster children for a few days in the loving hands of someone they already know from church. 

Pastors or church staff can call the local foster care resource coordinator and ask how their church can get involved. Church leaders can determine how pregnancy resource centres and adoption or foster agencies need support.

Seeing children from your community thriving in loving, gospel-centred families is worth the effort and glorifies God. Seeing children from international or domestic adoptions find a forever home mirrors our adoption in Christ.

I had an experience at our dinner table just a few weeks ago that I will never forget. It made my heart overflow with worship to see how God is changing lives for good through a little church community. That community loves God and wants to obey Him in loving and helping vulnerable kids.

It seemed like such an unremarkable evening. After hanging out at our house on a Sunday afternoon, my son’s friend stayed for dinner. When we sat down to eat, and the twins saw the new face at our table, they smiled at him. He smiled at them and chatted with us about which twin was which. 

And it hit me. 

All three of these children had been fatherless. All three had been taken into a home and nurtured with care and unconditional love. They learned about Jesus. All three thrived in their new homes. All three had been loved and prayed for by our church community. Our family friend had been adopted. Only God knows the future for our foster twins. 

But I know this—God is pleased when his people love and protect vulnerable children. God is pleased with a church family that fosters a heart for foster care that reflects the love of Jesus.

© 2023 Anonymous. Used with permission. Originally published at focusonthefamily.com.

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