During my time doing ministry work, being in leadership on many ministry teams and spending years in a church atmosphere I learned a few things about this environment.
I was a small group leader for a ministry called Celebrate Recovery for 3 years and during this time I was welcomed with a variety of people of who stumbled into the doors of this ministry which was held inside a church. Some were believer’s in God and some weren’t. We were instructed to tread very carefully in how we interacted with the attendees because just because we believed in God didn’t mean they did. We didn’t’ want to scare them away and overwhelm them with too much “churchy talk”. This ministry was rooted and grounded in prayer, so it was no surprise to the attendees that yes, it was a ministry, but they could take or leave the prayer part, and many times they did just that.
I saw people come in the doors and walk right back out again.
I sat in a small group with many women and much of the time many didn’t believe in God at all, and they didn’t mind sharing it. I saw leadership go against the “direction” of the core guidelines of the ministry and make it their choice to “lay hands” on someone even when they have been instructed to not do this. The reason they usually said was “God told me to do it”. So many times, people would be so disturbed by this practice they would walk out the door and never return. After all, if they aren’t believers in God what good would this “ministry” do for them anyway? For a non-believer to have a Christian lay hand on them from the instruction of “God” it can be quite traumatic. I saw it happen over and over even after being instructed to not do this.
I believe many of them we’re turned off by this aspect, and made the choice to never return. Obviously, this “place” wasn’t for them if they didn’t believe in God and there were many reasons why I’m sure they could FEEL this as they walked in or out of the doors of this ministry. Don’t get me wrong, I love Celebrate Recovery and all they stand for, but I also see another light to ministry work that I hadn’t seen before.
I can’t ignore it and I can’t unknow what I know.
Those that believed in God we’re right at home. They belonged there. They fit in. They quickly found their clique and began to work the ministry and the 12 steps to work towards healing. I was one of those people. I grew as much as possible while in this ministry, so much so that within a year I was in leadership training which resulted in me being the leader of the Women’s Chemical Dependency Group.
I was honored and humbled to be trusted with this position, and was always cautious to tread very carefully about what I said and how I said it because I never knew who was a believer in the group and who wasn’t. I never laid hands on anyone because God never told me to do that. He told me to listen objectively and not judge anyone and at all costs make everyone feel welcome. I had a gift, and was even assigned as the “Welcome Greeter” for the time I was there. I love meeting people being the first impression they saw walking in the doors, hugging on them and welcoming them to our community.
Taking the step to start Adoptees Connect I knew I had to decide between it being a ministry or not because my time during church, I was told that for God to bless whatever you are doing it needed to be a ministry. I struggled with this, and it’s a piece of the reason I held off on starting Adoptees Connect for so long.
I wanted God to bless Adoptees Connect, but I know being an adoptee we have no safe space. In my heart of hearts, I couldn’t help but wonder, what about the Adult Adoptees who aren’t believers? Would they not feel welcome here? Would they not feel like they belong because we have different beliefs?
It became apparent to me after a lot of prayer, and seeking God in my own understanding that because of Jesus’s heart for the hurting people, ALL THE HURTING PEOPLE I wanted all adoptees to feel welcome at all costs. If I made Adoptees Connect a ministry there would be a lot of adoptees that would feel turned away. We’ve already been turned away our entire lives, and this is not something I want to happen with Adoptees Connect.
I learned that a ministry can separate and divide, and this isn’t what I wanted for Adoptees Connect. Jesus loves everyone, even the non-believers so I wanted to make sure as I pursued Adoptees Connect coming to life that our community would make sure that every adopted adult felt welcomed. You didn’t have to be a believer to come and receive the community.
We decided we wanted to love everyone exactly as they are and believe that’s what God would want. That said, is Adoptees Connect MY ministry? Yes, it’s my ministry. Without a doubt God has me on an assignment and that’s to set out to form as many Adoptees Connect Small Groups as possible around the USA, as well as facilitate my own in my city. God is who I give the glory to and I am not ashamed to share it in my story. Will I push my beliefs onto others? Absolutely not, but I can without a doubt share where I get my strength and hope from and that’s Jesus Christ. I can only share what’s worked for me and hopefully be a light to someone, somewhere.
I want all non-believers to know that they are welcome to our groups. They are at home in our community. They don’t have to have a religious preference, a spiritual background or belong to a church community to belong at Adoptees Connect.
I think that’s what Jesus would want, don’t you?
The opinions and views expressed in this article are mine alone, and they do not represent any Adoptees Connect Support Group as a whole. I hope this helps those out there who are curious if Adoptees Connect is a ministry or not. I believe that to do what God calls us to do, it doesn’t always have to be a ministry for it to receive His blessing and for it to be “GOOD”.
Thanks for reading.
Founder, Adoptees Connect