Foster care is a Church problem, not a state child welfare problem. It is a Gospel issue first, not a government issue. The Church has both the duty and privilege to speak on behalf of and stand for the sake of those who cannot speak and stand for themselves because that is exactly what God has done for us through Jesus. That’s the Gospel.
Kids in foster care are not the government’s kids, they are God’s kids and therefore the Church’s responsibility. In response, many families choose to submit to the laborious and often painstaking process of becoming licensed foster homes so that abused, neglected and marginalized kids can have a safe, nurturing and Jesus-centered place to find refuge and be loved. The work these families do is full of unbelievable difficulties and unspeakable joys. On a daily basis they carry both the weight of brokenness and the hope of redemption on their shoulders and in their hearts. They live, breath, cry and walk out the Gospel in the vulnerable lives of these young kids while exposing their marriages, their children and their community of friends to a warfare unlike any other. It is a calling – a hard, beautiful, worthwhile calling.
But not everyone is called to be a foster parent. As a matter of fact, most people in the Church won’t ever bring a child into their home for any extended period of time. But this does not mean they, and the Church as a whole, don’t have an essential and necessary role to play in the lives of these foster families and the children they are giving their lives over to.
While we are all not called to do the same thing, we are all certainly called to do something. Perhaps it could be said this way: You’re either called to bring children into your home or you’re called to serve and support those who do. These kids, after all, are God’s kids and therefore all of our responsibilities within the Church. So here’s ten simple, unique and diverse ways that a church can practically serve foster families within their body – and in so doing participate in their calling and responsibility to care for God’s kids by serving and supporting the families who have brought them into their homes.
1) ORGANIZE A MEAL CALENDAR
It’s fairly standard practice for small groups, support groups, women’s ministries, etc. to organize a meal calendar for a family when a new baby is born. Do the same for a foster family when a new child is brought to their home.
2) SCHEDULE LAWN CARE
Do whatever you can to relieve any amount of burden you can from the family – like organize a team of people in the church who rotate mowing foster families lawns while they have children in their homes.
I am the husband of Emily, a dad to 4 girls (youngest adopted through foster care in 2013) and a former pastor of 13 years. I now serve as the Director of Church Engagement for Arrow Foundation (www.arrow.org) and am the Creator of ALL IN Orphan Care (www.allinorphancare.com). I have the privilege of traveling around the country engaging, equipping and mobilizing the Church towards foster care and adoption.