"We want to do more to help orphans. How can we convince our church to get on board?"
This is the most common thing people ask me when it comes to my role with World Orphans. I have been asked this by friends, strangers and even church staff! Most of the time these people are adoptive parents who are passionate about rescuing vulnerable children. All of a sudden, they are reading the Bible with fresh eyes and God's heart for the orphan leaps off the page. They wonder, "How is it I have never noticed this before?"
To answer their loaded question I always put my pastor hat back on; which has only collected a tiny amount of dust. I then remember all the times people came to me wanting the church to do something else. Most of the time what they were really saying was, "Pastor, this is important to me...but I want you to lead this."
I empathize with church leaders, i really do. At the same time, pastors (and I include myself) need to hear the voices of the flock they tend. Some of those sheep might actually point out where the church is failing to reflect God's heart.
Here is what I do when I am approached with this question. I tell them, "Before you approach your pastor, I want you to gather your friends and family; especially those who share your heart for the orphan (this could be your adoption Facebook group, co-workers, other students on campus, etc.) Together you start an Orphan Advocacy Team (or an OAT)."
Because World Orphans loves the Church and loves the orphan, we created an eight-week Bible Study your OAT can download for FREE. You can print them out or you can download them straight to your smart phones and tablets. The first few weeks, you will learn about the global orphan crisis and what our responsibilities are as individuals and as the Church. But the study doesn't stop there. We have designed this study to move your OAT from AWARENESS to ACTION. Every OAT is expected to take the next step and get in the game.
Maybe your group will:
- Sign-up for a World Orphans short-term trip (Journey 117) to one of our projects around the world.
- Raise money for a World Orphans project by running a Rescue Run, a neighborhood garage sale, a social network campaign, etc. Our OATs who have done this so far have all raised between $5,000 - $15,000!
- Come up with your very own idea that will benefit orphans and vulnerable children!
Here are a couple sample pages from the OAT Study you can download (click the images to enlarge them).
After your OAT completes the study and decides on an action step, THEN you take your pastor out for coffee (you pick up the tab, we pastors like that) and share what your group is doing. Your pastor will be encouraged to hear about people in the church who are proactively putting legs to their faith and will want to encourage you and your OAT too. Be prepared to offer suggestions how the church can take next steps in the orphan crisis such as taking part in Orphan Sunday, invite a World Orphans staff member to speak to the church and church leaders, send your pastor to the Together for Adoption Pastor's Conference, etc.
Here's the thing. We pastors love to get behind people in the church who take action.
Myself and others at World Orphans wants your Orphan Advocacy Team to succeed and we stand ready to help you in any way we can. But first you have to make the first step and get sign up!