Foster Care Seminar Recap
This past Thursday, 115 church leaders gathered at Overlake Christian Church and heard from Jason Johnson on how to take next steps in their church foster care ministry. Jason is the Director of Church Ministry Initiatives with Christian Alliance for Orphans, speaks all over the country about church ministry strategies for starting & leading orphan care ministries, has written 4 books on foster care ministry, and blogs regularly at JasonJohnsonBlog.com.
Jason Johnson did an incredible job of directing attention back to the underlying “why” of foster care ministry found in the Bible and God’s heart for the vulnerable and marginalized. His presentation was balanced with casting big vision, but also providing very concrete, actionable steps to starting or furthering foster care ministry in your church and coached us to realize everyone can do something. Even if your congregation members cannot take a foster child into their home, they can support foster families in your church or community through big things like free childcare to little things like delivering a casserole. When we do not ask our congregation members to serve in ways which might be thought of as small, we deprive them of the chance to have a part in this great work of orphan care.
Jason also talked about how foster care ministry should be viewed as an upstream approach to other ministries of our church, like homelessness and sex trafficking and shared 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 are a church leader able to cast a vision from the pulpit, but also from a bottom-up approach, if you are a passionate lay leader who desires to lead.
Our own Mandy Neill also shared about our Foster Support Faith Alliance: a look into the last 20 months of its existence and all that our partner churches have been able to accomplish. She shared some stats about concrete service our churches have been able to offer: over Christmas over 2,000 items and $6,600 in gift cards were donated to benefit the children coming into foster care; launching & volunteer staffing the Office Moms & Dads program in four new offices, and collectively thanking over 325 Child welfare staff members at least 3-4 times in the past 18 months. Mandy also shared some stories illustrating the fact that the once skeptical DSHS Children’s Administration is now often turning to our churches FIRST when they have a need for their children or families!
As you know we at Light up the City see immense value in church leaders learning, sharing, 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 had a lot of local churches, but quite a few from other regions of the state, six people from out of state and even two from Canada.
If you were unable to make the Orphan Care Seminar on Thursday but would like to see the video of Jason’s Johnson’s presentation, you can go to our YouTube page (please subscribe to see all of the videos). If you would like to learn more about what foster care ministry could look like in your church, check out our next Foster Support Faith Alliance event on May 31st 11:30-1:30 at Seattle First Free Methodist Church.