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24 October 2014

Recognising your church's potential

Recognising your church's potential

Almost every week a local authority contacts us to say they're eager to connect with churches in their area because they recognise the potential that exists within churches. Someone said to me recently that local authorities recognise the potential of churches more than churches recognise their own potential.

We are Home for Good, a newly formed charity that aims to find a home for every child that needs one and inspire and equip churches to support families that foster and adopt. We started life a year and a half ago as an initiative of Evangelical Alliance, Care for the Family and CCPAS to raise awareness of the 6,000 children waiting to be adopted and the 9,000 more foster families that are urgently needed. But the opportunity for us to have a positive impact in this area was so huge that we were able to launch as a charity in our own right.

The Bible is clear that God's people should look after the vulnerable and the Church has a rich heritage of doing so. And today, local authorities all over the UK are asking us to make sure fostering and adoption are on the agenda. Yes, you've read that correctly - local authorities are asking us to fulfil our biblical mandate! Many churches in the UK are capturing the vision and stepping up to the challenge. But the need is big, so we need more.

Local authorities are hearing stories. They are hearing of how churches in Southampton ran a campaign that saw more than 70 people apply to be foster carers. They are so impressed at a church in Sutton whose carpenters are offering to do work, for free, for people who are applying to adopt or become foster carers, to ensure their homes are child-friendly. They see the potential of how Christian foster carers and adoptive parents in Suffolk are connecting with one another to offer each other support –and are even extending this support to people of all faiths and none.

This is, or it certainly could be, a good news story. It's a fantastic opportunity for the Church to be good news in society, change our communities and transform the lives of some of the most vulnerable children in the UK.

Local authorities are contacting us because they're struggling to engage churches. We urge you to get involved. One reason we often hear church leaders give is that they don't feel they can get involved because they're not personally involved with fostering and adoption. They say they would feel a little hypocritical promoting it. Can I let you into a secret? I am the CEO of Home for Good and I'm not an adoptive parent or a foster carer. I wasn't adopted or fostered as a child.

I have to confess, over the past couple of years I've been in countless meetings where we've gone around the room and people have shared amazing stories. Then it would get to me and I would usually try and make people laugh to distract them from the fact that I felt like a fraud.

But then I began to get it. For too long fostering and adoption has been seen as a niche activity. Those who did it –talked about it. Those who didn't –didn't. And that's a problem! The Church has an unprecedented opportunity to transform the lives of vulnerable children and make a massive impact on society, but people who previously have been on the 'outside' need to stand with those who are on the 'inside'. And I can tell you, in doing so, you can't help but be inspired by the stories and become passionate about the possibilities.

There are two things church leaders can do to get started:

1)Speak to foster carers and adoptive parents and recognise the great thing they are doing. Ask them about the challenges they face and how you and your church could better support them.

2)Go to the Home for Good website and order a copy of a booklet that Care for the Family have produced called Supporting those who adopt or foster [http://www.homeforgood.org.uk/adoptionsunday2014/support-booklet]

 

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