Follow Up on Refresh Conference
Last Thursday morning we had around 130 attendees at the Orphan Care Seminar with guest-speaker Jason Johnson. Jason had great wisdom to share regarding the “why” and “how” behind starting a foster care ministry in the church. Not only is Jason the Director of Church Ministry Initiatives with Christian Alliance for Orphans, he speaks all over the country about church ministry strategies for starting & leading orphan care ministries. He himself is a former pastor, a foster and adoptive dad, has written 4 books on foster care ministry, and blogs regularly at JasonJohnsonBlog.com.
Jason Johnson did an incredible job of drawing attention back to the underlying “why” of foster care ministry that we find in the Bible and God’s heart for the vulnerable and marginalized. His presentation was a great balance of casting big vision, but also providing very concrete, actionable steps to utilizing the ministry framework already present in your church. He coached us in how to make orphan care ministry a culture of the church, instead of just one more program. We talked about how foster care ministry can be seen as an upstream approach to a lot of the other ministries of our church, like homelessness and sex trafficking. We also talked about the need for a well-rounded holistic church that is engaging people in need on all areas of this spectrum.
Jason also shared models of what foster care ministry might look like in your church, both from a top-down approach if you’re a church leader able to cast that vision from the pulpit, but also from a bottom-up approach, if you are a passionate lay leader wanting to lead this work.
Along with hearing from Jason Johnson, our own Mandy Neill also shared about our Foster Support Faith Alliance: some background into the last 10 months of its existence and all that our partner churches have been able to accomplish. We shared some easy on-ramps to involvement and awareness for our congregations, like the Office Moms & Dads program (which is now in 3 new offices: Bellevue, Lynnwood and West Seattle), Care Boxes & clothing donations (we’ve collected well over 1000 items for various offices in the last 6 months!), and Child Welfare staff appreciation events (so far we’ve hosted 5 and have 4 more scheduled in the next 2 months).
As you know, we at Light up the City, see immense value in church leaders learning from, sharing with, and collaborating with other leaders from the same community. Attendees of the seminar sat at region-specific tables, met others from their community and had intentional discussion time with one another. We were also blessed to hear from our own network participants. Aaron Gray at Sound City Bible Church shared the reasons behind why their church recently started a foster care ministry. Jessica Hatch, an employee of the DSHS Children’s Administration KingWest office shared what a profound, tangible impact our KingWest local network has had on that office through donations, the OMD program and appreciation events. Erin Greene, a foster ministry volunteer from our Lynnwood network, shared her own story of putting on a much-needed, much-appreciated foster family Christmas event as just a volunteer with almost no budget or volunteers – just by thinking outside of the box!
If you were unable to make the Orphan Care Seminar on Thursday but would like to see the video of or powerpoint from Jason’s Johnson’s presentation, please email Mandy Neill to request a copy. Join us next year for our 2nd annual Orphan Care Seminar.