Today I received a box from Sunrise Children’s Services filled with material urging our church, and all Kentucky Baptist churches, to participate in the Shine! campaign – a one-time offering to help offset a recent decline in church donations due to leadership concerns over the last several months. Sunrise Children’s Services is an incredible ministry affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention that sadly seems to go unnoticed by many of our Kentucky Baptist churches across the state. I am thankful to see Kentucky Baptist leadership present a clear, simple, and manageable response intended to benefit so many children who desperately need the gospel and a loving home. Here are a few reasons why I believe every church should participate:
1. Orphan care is not optional. Churches and church leadership can become overwhelmed by all the various ministry options available for their membership. Not every church can or should participate in all the opportunities that are placed a pastor’s desk. There is wisdom in discovering the giftedness and passions of a congregation in order to effectively and with longevity establish core ministries. ‘Tis better for a church to lead its membership to do a few things well than a lot of things poorly. Having said that, cultivating a heart for orphan care among the people of God is not a ministry area that requires contemplation; every church of Jesus Christ should be pursuing the care of the fatherless. On the one hand, it is simply a command to be obeyed – “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27). And yet the motivation for orphan care is rooted in the very identity of every believer who gathers for worship. To be called the Church is to be reminded of our own merciful reconciliation with our Father, a reconciliation that daily points us to our blessed adoption into the family of Christ. Yes, every member of the church was fatherless and every member has experienced the life-giving, identity shaping, eternity changing miracle of adoption. So that now, we have been given “the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12). It is based on the overwhelming gratitude for our own adoption that our duty to James 1:27 is obeyed with delight. If your church is searching for an avenue to begin or strengthen your ministry to orphans, the Shine! campaign is a perfect place to begin.
2. Sunrise Children’s Services is committed to the gospel. It is good that Kentucky Baptists are cautious in determining where they will send their support and with which ministries they should partner. I can understand why many Kentucky Baptist churches were reticent to continue their support of Sunrise during a few months of surprising leadership decisions and direction. However, Sunrise Children’s Services and the Kentucky Baptist Convention have demonstrated their unwavering faithfulness to the truthfulness of God’s Word and any reluctance to give based on previous uncertainties needs to be put away. Sunrise and the KBC have acted quickly and it has afforded churches the opportunity to now focus on the reason for the ministry – the children.
3. God might be working on couples in your own church. I have found that one of the additional benefits of discussing the ministry of Sunrise, and other orphan care agencies, to our church membership is the way God uses their ministry to the fatherless to raise awareness of the adoption process in the hearts of own church members. Supporting Sunrise through the Shine! campaign speaks a clear message to your congregation – since we are a church that has a heart for support and partnership with orphan care across the state, we will most certainly have a heart for supporting and partnering with orphan care right in our own congregation. The Shine! campaign might be an act of reassurance for a church couple to know that they will not be alone should God call them to adopt or be foster parents. It is good for them to know that their own church has a heart for adoption and will be there for them.
4. The Shine! campaign is an easy way to mobilize your church for missions. Sunrise Children’s Services is a ministry that is engaged in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ both through word and example. In addition to providing a desperately needed service, Sunrise is also a Great Commission ministry. Therefore, for Graefenburg Baptist Church, we view Sunrise as part of our “Judea.” (Acts 1:8). By following the ideas in the Shine! campaign box and collecting additional ideas from church members who already have a passion for missions, you will be able to easily mobilize people of all ages with varying gifts to engage in this part of our Great Commission call. For example, to begin raising awareness of the Shine! campaign, our church is hosting a fun and friendly boys vs. girls penny drive to begin the funding process. We are calling on parents to jump right in with their children, so we will see a VBS-style offering march right down the aisle of our church to present pennies to kick off the campaign. All ages and all giftedness can be mobilized with this campaign, and that is a great blessing.
5. The KBC leadership is reaching out to Kentucky Baptists. This may seem like a small thing, but I believe trusting and responding to our leadership in the KBC is a healthy sign of affirming their role as shepherds who guide churches to be more effective disciple-makers. I’m not suggesting churches follow KBC leadership blindly or universally whenever an appeal is made, but we should do so frequently and joyfully. To make it very simple, our KBC leadership feels this is a worthy, necessary, and God-honoring campaign for all Kentucky Baptist churches to participate in. That should be important to us.
Join me to pray for Sunrise Children’s Services and then consider how your church can be involved in children in crisis shine. All for the glory of God.