This Radical!

Screen shot 2009-10-14 at 10.08.07 PMMy wife and I have been listening to David Platt of The Church at Brook Hills recently. He’s currently preaching through James and through this series the church has committed to what they are calling “The Radical Experiment.” I can’t urge you enough to look at what they are doing. When I read this I think, “YES! This is how a church that is reading and preaching the book of James ought to respond!” I can’t wait to see the ripple effect of this on their church, other churches, their city, and the nations.

From their website:

As our faith family has been studying the book of James, we have been challenged by the Word in light of the needs around us in the world. When it comes to spiritual need, so many still have so little access to the Gospel, and when it comes to physical need, over 26,000 children die every day of starvation or preventable diseases. Meanwhile, God has entrusted the Gospel to us, in addition to giving us extraordinary physical resources compared to the rest of the world. In light of all that God has given us and in view of the needs around us, we are not going to be content to merely listen to the Word and deceive ourselves; we are going to do what it says.

We’ve decided that for one year we are going to look at every expenditure we have in light of dire, desperate need around the world (specifically children who are dying of starvation or preventable diseases). As a church, we are going to save and sacrifice in every possible place in order to free up as many resources as we can to give away. In addition, individuals and families within our faith family are going to begin doing the same thing, spending and sacrificing every possible dollar in order to give as much as possible to urgent spiritual and physical need around the world.

Our initial commitment of $525,000 to Compassion International involves sponsoring 21 Child Survival Programs across India.

In addition to caring for children on the other side of the world, we have also been challenged by James 1:27 to care for children and their families here in Birmingham. On Sunday, September 6, as we studied James 1:27, we began considering how we could work in partnership with the Department of Human Resources in our county (as well as other foster care and adoption agencies that work with DHR) to provide for all of the children in need of homes in our county. Two weeks later, on Sunday, September 20, hundreds of families signed up to begin the foundational steps in fostering and/or adopting children.

Read more on their website here.

4 Practical Means to Nurturing an Adoption Culture in Your Church

I wrote previously about aiming to create a culture of adoption in your church as opposed to just another ministry or program. Below are some practical things that you can do to nurture an adoption/orphan care culture in your church.

  1. Get together as adoptive families. If you have more than one adoptive family in your church you are already ahead of the game. You may be the start to a great movement in your church. Find one another and meet for fellowship, encouragement, and prayer.
  2. Preach on and speak about adoption and orphan care. Start with the gospel and move outwards to the implications on our lives. If you are not in leadership, pray for and encourage your church leadership to speak about adoption and orphan care. If they seem reluctant at first, don’t pressure them but be patient. Here are two articles – 10 Ways to Pastor Adoptive Parents and Those Considering Adoption & What to do When Church Leaders Don’t “Get it”
  3. Help others with creative ways they can care for orphans. Your story and experience will be the best resource they have. Not everyone is called to adopt but everyone is called to care for orphans in some way. It may be through prayer, foster care, respite care, giving financially, babysitting, orphan sponsorship, or serving on a mission trip.
  4. Provide financial assistance to families considering adoption. For so many couples the number one obstacle to moving forward with adoption is the cost. By providing even a small amount of financial assistance churches take part in opening the doors of faith for families to adopt. I have seen this as a catalyst which has led to many adoptions over the years in one church which has led to the creation of a distinct adoption culture. Click here to find out how you can establish a local church adoption fund.

Creating a Culture of Adoption in Your Church

Today, around the country, churches of all denominations are taking serious God’s call to care for the fatherless and starting orphan care and adoption ministries. This is very exciting – for the sake of the gospel, for the sake of the millions of children that are waiting for a family, and for these churches!

Many of these churches are asking how they can serve the fatherless most effectively?

The best advice I can give is to not simply start an orphan care/adoption “ministry” but aim to see an orphan care/adoption culture established. What do I mean by that? It may be semantics but I see a difference that has great implications:

  • Ministry tends be an optional program that a small group of interested individuals can take part in.
  • Culture is something that the whole church community takes part in by virtue of being part of the church.
  • Ministry does not necessitate the involvement or the vision casting of the church leadership.
  • Culture will be sustained by the preaching of the gospel and the particular ways it is worked out.
  • Ministry is not always clearly connected to the mission of the church.
  • Culture is a means to work out the mission of the church.

Think of these statements in regards to other “ministries” that we find in our churches – evangelism, prayer, mercy. The extent to which these gospel-activities are seen as “ministries” or “programs”, as they so often are, they often struggle. I find churches that are most effective at evangelism are those churches that see evangelism as a non-negotiable for every member and have created a culture in which every member by virtue of their involvement in the church community is caught up into the activity of reaching the lost. I think the same ought to be true for orphan care/adoption.

The greatest thing you can do to establish a culture of adoption/orphan care in your church is to be gripped by the reality that God has adopted us as His children. The church is God’s great trans-racial adoptive family. As the gospel takes root in our hearts and we recognize that adoption is central to the heart and mission of God it also becomes something we care about. We will naturally begin to reflect our vertical adoption in our horizontal efforts. This is the foundation for creating a culture that believes that every Christian is called to care for the fatherless in some way. Not everyone is called to adopt but everyone is called to do something. The question for each Christian and each church is not “Should I care for orphans?” The question is “How can I care for orphans?”

One church aiming to create an adoption culture is Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, KY. They have committed to do all they can to adopt as many orphans from around the world as possible. Here is a statement from their website:

“Every member of the AABC family is challenged to be apart of rescuing children from around the world, by giving, praying, and adopting. Our commitment to adoption flows from our commitment to the gospel. All who know the grace of God found only in Jesus Christ, have been adopted by God. It only makes sense that those of us who have been adopted in this way display such grace in the world through a radical commitment to adoption.”

Would your church commit to the same? Imagine the potential if thousands of churches aimed for cultures in which the gospel led to this kind of radical commitment to do all we can care for the fatherless. May God continue to move in our hearts and the heart of His church!

Atlanta Pastor: “We Will Care for Any Newborn”

From 11 Alive News:

METRO ATLANTA, Ga. — Last weekend an Atlanta pastor made a promise that stunned his congregation and most of the people who heard it.

In a speech that discussed abortion, the President, and the sanctity of life, the most provocative statement from Pastor Vic Pentz of Peachtree Presbyterian Church came towards sermon’s end:

“I make a promise to you now and I don’t want you to keep this a secret,” the pastor pronounced, “the Peachtree Presbyterian Church will care for any newborn baby you bring to this church.

“We will be the family to find a home for that child, and there’s no limit on this. You can tell your friends, you can tell your family, you can tell the whole world …”

Reflected Pentz a week later, “I seem to have touched a nerve by saying that to the congregation.”

It’s a speech he repeated this past Sunday, and it can be found on the church’s web site under the sermon title, “Ethics of Life”.