Focus on the Family

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6 Ways Pastors Can Shepherd Their Churches to Support Foster or Adoptive Families

There are many ways that the people of God can rally around those who feel a unique call to foster care and adoption.

November is National Adoption month, and it is therefore a good time to reflect on why it is important for you, as a pastor, to shepherd your flock to care for foster and adoptive families.

Why? Because many of these families need support in ways we rarely consider, and as Christians, our actions and behavior always flow from our theology.

Think about it.

Children are a gift of God. It has always been this way, and it always will be. God told Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). Clearly, God wasn’t saying “one and done” to them. The Creator was telling His image bearers, “have sex, and have lots of it!” And as you fill the world with children, they will be a blessing.

This is captured in Psalm 127:3-5. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!”

The message that the world broadcasts is quite the opposite. This is where the people of God have a powerful, counter-cultural message. Children are a blessing! Embrace them. Love them. Train them. Nurture them. Have lots of them if you are able.

As every parent well knows, raising children is far from easy. Part of the struggle stems from the fact that every child inherits their parents’ sinful nature (Psalm 51:5). It doesn’t take long for mom and dad to see that their cute little baby is actually quite selfish and demanding. As one preacher put it, “he’s a viper in a diaper!”

Not only is every child born with a sin nature, but every child is born into a fallen, sinful world (Genesis 3). Some children are born into families that are healthy and stable. Many are not. In fact, some parents are so unstable that they are unable to raise their child. Hence the need for foster care and adoptive families.

While the world tells us, “look out for yourself,” God’s Word tells believers, “look out for one another.” This is true inside the church, but it is also true of those outside the church. Galatians 6:10 says, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

If we truly believe that children are a good gift of God, then we should strive to support families any way we can. But it goes beyond that. For those who sense the unique call to foster care and adoption, the people of God ought to rally around them in a big way. They will face challenges often greater than parents with biological children. They will need the support of brothers and sisters in Christ in tangible and even sacrificial ways.

“For those who sense the unique call to foster care and adoption, the people of God ought to rally around them in a big way.”

Here are several ways pastors can encourage their churches to come together in support of foster and adoptive families.

1. Pray

Prayer is the most important thing you can do to help foster or adoptive families. The physical support we can provide is always limited, but when we call upon the power of God, we are tapping into a limitless power that can move mountains.

It is such a blessing to intercede on behalf of one another. Foster and adoptive families need the grace of God in abundance. Day after day, they face challenges, and they need brothers and sisters in Christ to cover them in prayer.

2. Serve

There are several practical ways you can help:

  • Provide them with meals
  • Pick up groceries
  • Help with yardwork or housework
  • Provide transportation
  • Babysit

These are just a few of the many practical ways you can minister to foster and adoptive parents. The Bible says, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:9-10).

3. Ask

Don’t be afraid to ask, “how can we best help you?” Each situation is going to be different, and if you don’t inquire, you won’t know what the most pressing needs are. But when you ask, listen actively. Be prepared to come alongside them any way you can.

Maybe what they need most is not practical support (as found in #2) but just a shoulder to cry on, or someone to come over to their house and hang out for a couple hours.

If you are a foster or adoptive family, be open and honest when asked. It’s okay to say, “We really need help!” You don’t have to carry the burden alone.

4. Encourage

Encouragement is very powerful. Sometimes families in these situations are asking, did we do the right thing? Are we going to get through this? This is where encouragement is critical. Words of affirmation can go a long way. Assure them that what they are doing really matters.
Brothers and sisters in Christ can remind adoptive and foster parents of God’s heart for the orphan and the widow (Deuteronomy 24:19-22). They can point them to the infinite gospel resources that are theirs in Christ Jesus.

One simple way to encourage is by sending a quick note or text their way. Let them know you care. Let them know that in the chaos of it all, God will give them more grace (James 4:6).

5. Give

I don’t have to tell you that raising a child costs a lot of money these days. There are a lot of factors to consider for those exploring foster care or adoption, and one of those is finances. Yet again, this is where the church is so powerful. Not everyone is cut out for fostering or adoption, but God has blessed many Christians with wealth.

Perhaps the Lord is leading you to come alongside a family to offer financial support in this regard. One of the Proverbs says, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it” (Proverbs 3:27). Be generous!

6. Follow-up

Sometimes churches and individuals do a good job initially, but then their support drops off later on when things appear to be going smoothly.

Be sure to check back in. Continue to ask and probe. Just like in much of life, it’s one step forward and two steps back. Foster and adoptive families need continuing support.

God’s Heart for the Orphan

God has a special place in His heart for the fatherless. James 1:27 reads, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

God has called us to make disciples of all nations. One of the most effective way to reach the world, is through the family. Parents can provide an environment where children are loved, disciplined, and instructed in the ways of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). This is no less true of foster and adoptive parents.

If your church is not actively involved in offering support of this kind, encourage your pastor and leaders in that direction. Foster and adoptive families face enormous challenges, but they are doing a great work that honors the Lord. Let’s support them and lift them up any way we can!

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