It Takes All Types: Church Planters Care For Children
A few years into our church plant, we came to the realization that a lot, if not most, of our time, energy, efforts, and focus were geared around children in some capacity. Some of it was focused on our internal children’s ministry. Some of it was focused on our regional passion for foster care, and still more energy was focused on global partnerships that cared for children. Our primary demographic was young families, so this message and focus was very appealing to them and was in fact a natural outworking of the kinds of people the Lord was bringing into our church plant. As a result, we structured much of our language and vision to reflect what God had us involved in.
We kind of unknowingly had settled into a rhythm of ministry that focused on kids, eventually developing a more focused and strategic effort in three primary places:
- IN HERE – a healthy, vibrant, robust children’s ministry that invested the Gospel deeply into the next generation.
- OUT THERE – serving in some of the most vulnerable, broken, and hidden parts of our city through foster care, mentorship, and loving families in crisis
- OVER THERE – we focused on our relationship with Compassion International, who releases children from poverty in Jesus’ name, by hosting sponsorship events, taking sponsor trips to visit children, having letter-writing parties, etc.
These were not mutually exclusive silos but were all interwoven together. What we were doing “over there” in the world could not be disconnected from what we were doing “out there” in our city. There is a local application to our global engagement. What we were doing “out there” in our city could not be disconnected from what we were doing “in here” in our church.
It would have been foolish, self-defeating, and anti-Gospel for us to love and pour into the kids in our church and neglect ensuring that every child in our city has the opportunity to be loved, cared for, and supported just like we would want for our own kids.
Needless to say, we worked hard to keep them all connected and create a cohesive strategy that was clear, linear, and easy to engage with in varying capacities.
Obviously, this strategy of “in here, out there, and over there” focuses primarily on our mission to serve kids, but the residual effect on our church was profound. It was not just just “how we can change kids’ lives” but ultimately became “how these kids are changing OUR lives, our church, and our mission.” It was cyclic, working both ways. Everyone who has served in some capacity can relate; you go on a mission trip intending to serve others only to find that, in the end, you’ve been served greatly by them in unexpected and beautiful ways.
We found that strategically focusing on children inside the church (in here), locally (out there), and globally (over there) was vital to the spiritual growth and the effectiveness of our church. If we wanted to be a church that fulfilled Jesus’ great commission, we had to have a strategy that makes children a central aspect of the church, not just as a tool to reach parents, but as vital members of the church family “in here” in order to have a gospel impact “out there” and “over there.”
Jason is a husband to Emily, foster and adoptive dad, pastor, writer, and speaker. In 2008, alongside a core team of people in Houston, Jason planted a church on the north side of the city. He is now the Director of Church Ministry Initiatives with Christian Alliance for Orphans and the author of the newly released book, ReFraming Foster Care as well as ALL IN Orphan Care and The Beauty and Brokenness of Foster Care. Jason blogs regularly at www.jasonjohnsonblog.com and has a passion to equip churches and encourage families no matter where they are in their foster care and adoption journey. He lives in Texas and spends every free second he can with Emily and their four daughters.