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SURVEY RESULTS MOST EXCITED ABOUT AWARENESS: Increased # of people interested in foster care and adoption. SUPPORT: Increased efforts towards wraparound and support services. LEADERSHIP: Receiving more pastoral support and church-wide awareness. EXTERNAL: Expanding ministry efforts into the community via partnerships. TRAINING: Trauma-Informed training for staff/volunteers, parents, etc.


Many churches are experiencing an increase in interest on the front-end and an expansion of support services on the back-end. Pastoral leadership is recognizing this critical ministry more.


(6-24 MONTHS)


• Expand into the community to partner with

churches, agencies, DHS, etc. • Act as a coach for other churches launching and leading ministries. • Work with local partners to host events, conferences, gatherings, etc.

• Invest more into leadership team with training, conferences, workshops, etc. • Strengthen and empower leadership team with clear roles and critical resources. • Add more competent and committed members to the leadership team.



• Grow specialized wraparound support structures

for families (special needs, foster parents, adoptive parents, bio parents, etc.) • Build processes to apply for adoption grants/ financial aid. • Provide support for adoptees (children and adults).

Of the 30 church leaders surveyed, all responses fell into these three categories: Becoming more externally focused, expanding support services for families and growing their leadership team.


More people consistently serving. People are WAY too busy.


Lack of pastoral/church-wide support. Poor communication to the masses.

Lack of adoption support. Lack of staffing and events.

Overwhelmingly, ministries are feeling hindered by the amount of people they have serving (a small group doing most of the work) and the lack of top-down leadership support they receive.



• Hire staff to lead local regional alliance.

• Launch mentorship/training program for bio families

• More training for children’s ministry volunteers/staff.

(i.e. job skills, parenting, addiction coaches, etc.)* • Build a family visitation center. • Pay for families to receive professional counseling. • Expand Safe Families

• Continuing leadership education for ministry team.

SUPPORT • More adoption financial support.


• More childcare options for foster families. • Cover costs of professional counseling for families.* • Host events: Moms retreat, marriage conference, etc. • Buy families gifts / pay to attends conferences.

• Increase global child sponsorship. • Train caregivers via global partnerships in best-

practices for family-based care.

SUMMARY The hypothetical scenario of “unlimited resources” allowed ministry leaders to dream. They did so in two primary areas - support of foster/adoptive families and support of biological families. *Indicates that several responses were given along these lines.


More of an external focus from churches. Agencies/departments reaching out to the church community. Greater understanding of long-terms effects of adoption. More people aware and desiring to get involved. Greater collaboration among churches. Greater concern for bio families. Increased focus on foster care. More bridge orgs forming.

People not equipped for the long-haul. Lack of trauma-informed training for parents/volunteers. Lack of realistic expectations going into foster care. People becoming numb to the overwhelming statistics. Competing entities over-saturating the market. Lack of empathy for bio families. Y International adoption numbers down. R A More awareness and interest with Lack of awareness for other ways to get involved. M an on-going need to educate and M prepare people for the long-term. SU



• More people willing to volunteer, give, support,

open their homes.

SUPPORT • More understanding of TBRI / trauma-informed care.

PREVENTION • More resources helping churches understand how to

cure the problem, not just put a band-aid on it.

• Resources for how to network and collaborate with

churches - church to state & org to church. • Stronger, more qualified leadership teams. • More defined networks of leaders working together for effectiveness and sustainability. • Practical collateral - i.e. job descriptions for staff/ volunteers; org-chart models for ministry leadership; how to manage volunteers well; etc.

SUMMARY Overwhelmingly, ministries are desperate for more people to serve and are hungry for on-going development and training for those who are leading.

SURVE Y SCO P E AND SY N OP S I S Throughout the summer of 2018, the leadership of CAFO’s National Church Ministry Initiative conducted a series of interviews and surveys with 30 CAFO member church leaders from across the country representing a variety of church sizes, regional contexts and ministry structures. The following summary pieces, along with the corresponding infographic, provide a high-level overview of the survey results. Consistent ideas and themes have been noted to be of special importance and responses from church leaders have been placed into categories when appropriate to help identify patterns consistent in churches, leadership and ministries across church, contextual and ministry structure platforms. Among other things, the results of this survey can help us identify consistent bright spots in church based OVC ministry as well as common struggles many churches and leaders are facing. From there we can formulate strategies and resourcing mechanisms that equip churches to excel in those spaces of ministry that are “working” and grow in those areas of struggle. By identifying commonalities among churches and ministries around the country we can together find more effective points of collaboration, shared resourcing opportunities and maximize our efforts towards ensuring children and families are cared for by learning from one another and leaning on one another more strategically.

BELOW ARE THE SEVEN QUESTIONS EACH CHURCH LEADER WAS ASKED TO RESPOND TO ALONG WITH A SHORT SUMMARY OF EACH: WHAT ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT IN YOUR MINISTRY RIGHT NOW? Many churches are experiencing an increase in interest from individuals and families regarding how they can get involved in foster care, adoption and support services. As well, leaders are pleased with the amount of focus and energy being poured into establishing more robust and sustainable support services for foster and adoptive families. Finally, a majority of church leaders expressed their pastoral leadership is beginning to recognizing the importance of this ministry more and more – not necessarily to the point of full endorsement church-wide, but at a minimum becoming more open to learning, listening and dialoguing about what this ministry might look like in the overall church structure. BASED ON YOUR CURRENT LEVEL OF RESOURCING (FINANCIAL, LEADERSHIP, ETC.), WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH IN YOUR MINISTRY IN THE NEXT 6, 12 AND 24 MONTHS? Leaders expressed goals and visions that fell primarily into three categories: External Focus, Support and Leadership. Ministries by and large are looking to expand further into the community around them through partnerships with local organizations, agencies, DHS and churches.

These partnerships will provide platforms of greater collaboration and more effective impact in the community by hosting events, conferences and various other gatherings and projects together in order to optimize the best of each entity and maximize their efforts together. As well, church leaders expressed an overwhelming desire to expand the support services they are offering the foster and adoptive community within their churches. They hope to do this by establishing more “niche” areas of support for special needs families, foster families, adoptive parents, biological kids in foster homes, adult and child adoptees, etc. Finally, ministry leaders recognize the need to invest more into the expansion, growth and health of their teams via trainings, conferences, and continuing leadership development and support opportunities for those leading in various capacities. WHAT IS ONE OF THE PRIMARY STRUGGLES OR ROADBLOCKS YOU’RE ENCOUNTERING IN YOUR MINISTRY RIGHT NOW? Every response from church leaders to this question fell into one of three categories: People, Pastoral Support or Money. Ministry leaders are feeling hindered by the busyness and lack of consistency of people. It is resulting in a shortage of people getting involved and a small group of volunteers left to carry the bulk of the ministry load. The inevitable outcome is burnout. As well, the primary roadblock a large percentage of ministry leaders are facing is the lack of pastoral and church-wide support, promotion and communication they receive. Either the pastor is not “onboard” or the church is so large or complicated organizationally that it’s nearly impossible to push anything new through the chain of command to get “air time” in front of people. Finally, leaders feel financially hindered, hoping to support more families with adoptions, tangible resources or counseling services as well as hire more staff and run more events to help engage and support families. However, they don’t have the budget to do so. IF YOU HAD UNLIMITED RESOURCING (FINANCIAL, LEADERSHIP, ETC.) WHAT WOULD YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH IN YOUR MINISTRY IN THE NEXT 6, 12 AND 24 MONTHS? The hypothetical scenario of “unlimited resourcing” allowed ministry leaders the opportunity to dream. They did so in two primary areas: Support of foster/adoptive families and support of biological families. If things like money, leadership, resourcing, etc. were not an issue, ministry leaders would want to provide more support services for foster and adoptive families by financially supporting more adoptions, providing more childcare options for foster families, covering the cost of professional counseling for families and children, hosting more events/ retreats/conferences/date-nights, purchasing gifts for families and covering the costs of their registrations to conferences and retreats. For biological families, ministry leaders would want to launch mentoring and training programs that focus on job skills, parenting, addiction recovery, etc as well as cover the cost of professional counseling services for biological parents and children. Several leaders also noted their desire to build and maintain a clean and inviting visitation center that could also act as a temporary transitional home for children between removal and placement.

WHAT CURRENT TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING DEVELOP IN THE CURRENT OVC MOVEMENT WITHIN THE AMERICAN CHURCH THAT ARE POSITIVE? This question focuses on trends – not necessarily what is happening now, but what is happening now that, if it continued, would bring about more positive outcomes in the OVC space. In view of that long-term perspective, church leaders were hopeful in three primary areas: The growing external focus of churches into the community and perspective partnerships, the increased trust forming between state agencies and the Church and a greater concern for prevention and biological family revitalization efforts. By and large church leaders felt that these current areas of growth, if continued, would lead towards more positive outcomes for children and families. WHAT CURRENT TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING DEVELOP IN THE CURRENT OVC MOVEMENT WITHIN THE AMERICAN CHURCH THAT ARE POTENTIALLY NEGATIVE? This question focuses on trends – not necessarily what is happening now, but what is happening now that, if it continued, would bring about more negative outcomes in the OVC space. In view of that long-term perspective, church leaders were primarily concerned in two areas: Individuals/families not equipped for the long-haul of caring for kids from hard places, the oversaturated market of seemingly competing entities with overwhelming and sometimes contradictory messaging. First, leaders continue to detect a lack of preparation, proper motive forming and establishment of realistic expectations for families pursuing fostering or adopting. If that trend continues, they felt it would do more harm than good in the long-term resulting in burnout, dissolvement of placements and ultimately more trauma for children. Second, while on one hand it is encouraging to see more churches, organizations, agencies, non-profits and departments engaging in the foster care and adoption space, church leaders are becoming increasingly concerned with the oversaturation and potential cannibalization of efforts – all competing for the same market of churches, families and dollars. They sense it is overwhelming to people to the extent that eventually people will stop listening. To the point on a decrease in international adoptions, several factors are at play, including a rise in domestic global adoptions, family preservation efforts and an increase in family-based residential residential care environments. WHAT GAPS IN RESOURCING HAVE YOU IDENTIFIED IN THE CURRENT OVC MOVEMENT FOR LOCAL CHURCHES? Undeniably the greatest resource leaders identified was the need for more leadership oriented training and development. While things like more volunteers, more understanding of traumainformed care and more resources helping churches understand how to work towards prevention effort were mentioned, nearly every leader surveyed spoke to the need for stronger and better leaders and leadership teams. Specifically, ministry leaders desire resources to help them network and collaborate with other churches, agencies and state offices more effectively. They sense a growing need to not put people in leadership positions who are not qualified leaders, but instead establish pipelines of training, job descriptions for volunteers and staff, training on how to more effectively manage volunteers and organizational charts of more formalized leadership structures to help provide clarity to the team on roles, functions, expectations and responsibilities.

This survey was produced through the collaborative efforts of CAFO member churches. To access more resources your church and leadership, simply visit


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CAFO Church Ministry Critical Issues Survey Infographic  

Throughout the summer of 2018, the leadership of CAFO’s National Church Ministry Initiative conducted a series of interviews and surveys wit...

CAFO Church Ministry Critical Issues Survey Infographic  

Throughout the summer of 2018, the leadership of CAFO’s National Church Ministry Initiative conducted a series of interviews and surveys wit...