Experience shows that ministries often rise or fall on the selection and implementation of leadership. We want to equip everyday people for effective ministry. We’re not looking for professionals or church elders. A healthy, lasting orphan care ministry is one championed by the lay-people of a church. If an orphan care ministry is owned by the families of a respective church, it will be one that is truly grounded in the DNA of a local church body.
A vitally important truth to keep in mind as you look to establish a leadership structure within your orphan care ministry is the unique nature of orphan care. You’ll need to focus on building depth in your ministry because of the ever-changing nature of orphan care. Many of your leaders will rotate between “on seasons” when they’re able to serve and “off seasons” when they need to be served. For instance, an “on season” could be a season when a family is waiting for a referral and has the time and energy to invest and serve in your ministry. However, it won’t be long before that family will need to take an “off season” upon the arrival of their newly adopted child. This family will need to focus their time and energy into building attachment with their child. It’s during this season of their life that they will need to be served. Systems and structures will need to be constructed with what Matt Chandler refers to as “on ramps” and “off ramps” in order to accommodate for these seasonal changes.
The value of depth is reinforced by an understanding of the often-seasonal nature of orphan care leadership. You want to have high capacity leaders available at all times to ensure your ministry’s effectiveness. Michael Monroe defines a high capacity leader as someone whose “ability to serve outweighs their need to be served.” They are both ready and able to serve in your ministry.
It needs to be noted that there is nothing wrong with needing to be served for a season. It’s the nature of Biblical community. We all need each other. It’s a blessing to receive love, care, and financial provision of your brothers and sisters upon a foster care placement or the arrival of a newly adopted child. There’s no shame in being in a season when you’re unable to be a high-capacity leader. There will likely be a season later when you’re willing and able to serve with more energy and time to invest. It’s very possible that the best leaders for your ministry today may not be the best leaders for your ministry in three years.
Below is a short video where our Co-Founder Eric Frye talks about the importance of establishing a solid foundation for leadership. Check it out and let us know what you think.