Spiritual Orphans in God's Household: Russell Moore

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Here is my rough summary of Dr. Moore’s talk. I will work on cleaning this up next week. Most of these notes are my paraphrase. His message mainly drew lessons from the orphan care movement for church based family ministry. At first I was a little confused by his approach, but he connected the dots as the session progressed.
Overall, it was an inspiring message that challenged me with a larger vision of family ministry. In the same way we open our physical homes to orphans and widows – we should also open our spiritual homes (the congregation) to those who do not have a spiritual family. I’ll post a link to the audio when they post it. Dr. Moore’s speach was also covered an article on the Christian Post.

For more coverage of the 2010 Connecting Church & Home Conference visit our summary page. You can listen to audio from this conference on the Southern Seminary website.

Watch it now: Russell Moore, General Session 1

russell mooreRussell D. Moore is Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration at Southern Seminary. He is an author, editor and also serves as a preaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church.

Lessons from the Adoption Care Movement (James 1:22-27)

The question of connecting church and home can be informed by the developing orphan care movement within Evangelicalism. Everyone is called to care for widows and orphans, the only question is how.
There are many children who are spiritual orphans because they don’t have Christian parents. Some women are embarrassed to come to church because they do not have a man who will come along. It may be helpful to think of these women as spiritual widows.
We ought to beware not to create churches that are a families only conclave. Build up and equip families and at the same time be on mission with Christ.
As more churches become concerned about orphan care, everyone is looking for a curriculum or a product to fix these problems. But that is not what the Spirit has been doing. An adoption movement in a congregation is different in each church. The answer is not having a big and slick program, but saying we are willing to be with Christ in hearing the fatherless and the widows – and the Spirit equips us to do that.
#1 Consider the nature of the church as a spiritual household. James was speaking to the churches. 1 Tim 3:15 “manage his own household well” so he will be able to lead the church of God. Titus 2 “spiritual mothers”
Some of the men will only see what it means to be a father by seeing the other men in your church acting like fathers. We need to call out pastors who understand what it means to be a dad to their congregation.
This is a similar role for the Titus 2 woman. She demonstrates godly mothering through caring for others in the congregation.
#2 We need to understand unity within diversity in the family. The adoption movement shows us how we can love others outside our genetic and ethic groups. To help families that are breaking apart, we need to learn how to model unity within our churches.
Unfortunately, our churches are often united around the wrong things. Congregations are being sorted out by economic status, or by race rather than spiritual unity. We need the unity that the Spirit brings.
You have some women that don’t want to come to your church because they know your church stands for family values – therefor they think they won’t be welcomed. We need to be united around the Gospel and the deposit of truth given to us. We need to love one another and even when we are not like one another. 2 Thess 3 “admonish as a brother”
A condition of salvation is not having ordered your family in the right way from the get-go. The blood of Jesus is for all different types.
#3 There has to be a Gospel patience toward people. You can’t adopt a 3-4 year old child and expect them to behave exactly like a child you have raised since birth. In the same way, Jesus doesn’t sanctified us immediately all the way. He takes us through a process that often involves suffering and patience. We need to extend this same patience toward others.
#4 There has to be shared responsibility in the way we organize our churches. Too often, we don’t see the church as a family, but a gathering of people who share the same values. It’s easy to preach against outsiders. Think of how the Evangelical church speaks strongly against homosexuality but are relatively mute about divorce. We need to speak to all people with truth and love.
You do not have “single people” in your congregation. There are not individuals – you have brothers and sisters in your congregation. They are part of you, they are in your home.
We can understand the church as an economy. We’ve lost an understand of the home as an economy. The kids leave for school and the parents leave for work. None have jobs together in the home. They don’t see how they contribute something to the family. Within the church as a household, we all have a job. Even those coming out of painful backgrounds, can see they are welcomed because they are useful. We use the gifts of everyone in the congregation, even those who are coming from no home. The more successful your church is, the more likely you’ll be embarrassed when some of those gifts are honed or refined. But that’s the point!
Don’t give up on people because they aren’t perfect. See yourself as a broken congregation that is learning from family broken people where you are broken. In the providence of God, he had the Gentile churches take up an offering for the church in Jerusalem. Do not see yourself as the one fixing others, God is probably going to flip the situation and minister to you through them.
It’s not about programs, that can come later. What you have to have is a mood that says to the congregation “Jesus will appear to us in the least of these.”

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