Have you ever wondered how your church could get involved in supporting the foster care community here in Houston?
When we examine the state of child welfare in Houston, we frequently hear statements like:
“There is so much work to be done.”
“We just need more people to get involved.”
“There are so many needs within the _____ area of Houston.”
It’s not uncommon for these statements to be followed by language concerning what churches are or are not doing within that space.
This is true—there is a lot of need and work to be done. However, we often find that for sustainable and collaborative solutions to exist, we might initially have less to do and more to consider.
It’s in our consideration that we can spearhead solutions to provide sustainable support for vulnerable children and families to be able to get out of the water and onto dry ground. Taking time for thoughtful consideration is what leads to strategic, organized action.
Churches are often presented with more to do, but if your church is looking to serve the foster care community in a lasting and effective way, I encourage you to first consider three things:
1. Consider The River.
One pastor mentioned to me a few weeks ago: “If The Riverside Project provided us with nothing other than just the illustration of ‘The River,’ then that alone would give us the perspective needed to mobilize our people and claim the work we’re already doing in the community.”
If you are unfamiliar with this metaphor, here’s a video that explains it:
When this concept becomes the lens we look at the foster care community through, we start to understand the complexity of the challenges in front of us, we see the variety of places along The River we can step in to support, and we’re invited to consider how who we are as a congregation inspires the action we take.
Your church has a unique place they can find along The River, working towards the mission of making Houston a place where families heal and children thrive.
As you discover this metaphor, we encourage you to ask questions like:
How does The River concept change the way you view what you might already be doing within the community?
How is your church uniquely positioned to serve vulnerable kids and families along The River?
How can you lead your congregation in understanding and buying into the unique position your church can take?
2. Consider The Data
You may have heard some of the big numbers when it comes to the need within the foster care community throughout Houston. For example, there are approximately 2,300 children in foster care in Houston (over 4,000 if you include the 12 counties surrounding Houston). We shared some more important statistics in this recent article as well.
The need is great!
The truth is that the big numbers aren’t always the most helpful in helping your church determine its place to make a difference in the area of the city or county you are actually located in.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer or solution to challenges within the child welfare system. To contextualize the need, our team here at The Riverside Project breaks Harris County into 12 different sectors and looks at specific data points in certain parts of the city. (We do this in many surrounding counties as well.)
The reality is that there is so much valuable data on the contextual level that can help your church pinpoint real issues and develop creative solutions to those challenges.
Want to learn more about the unique needs in your area? Reach out to our team today. We would love to talk with you!
3. Consider Your Church
“We start with you, not us.”
This is a phrase we say regularly at The Riverside Project. Instead of inviting your church into something specific with our organization, we start by helping you develop a strategy that will make an impact within your area of our community. We look at your location, demographics, size, language, church staff, small group model, and much more.
If you reach out to us, we will spend time getting to know who you are as a ministry. We want to know the missional initiatives your church is already involved in, the vision your church has for its place in your community, the challenges you’re currently facing, what typically motivates your congregation, and the list goes on.
We invite you to also consider WHO your church is, as this is a core part of developing a sustainable approach to making an impact along The River. Your church has a unique role to fill in this work!
Interested in taking a next step? One of the best places your church can start in finding your place along The River would be to set up an introductory meeting with a Church Mobilization Specialist on our team. In that meeting, we’ll consider these three things (The River, the data, and your church) and how they could strategically intersect. Get started >>