Fatherlessness is a rapidly growing problem the church in the United States, and it is also one the church is uniquely called and equipped to address. Between 1960 and 1990, the percentage of children living apart from their father rose from 17 to 36 percent, and this number continues to grow. God places extreme importance and emphasis on justice to the fatherless (Ps 10:17-18; 68:5-6). Deuteronomy 10:18 reads, "He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing." God's revelation of himself as a God of justice with particular concern for the fatherless and socially less fortunate was not simply given to Israel for information. It was given to them to imitate.

The New Testament also illustrates the value God places on caring for the fatherless. The community of faith was to play an important role in fathering the fatherless. As in the Old Testament, where provision for the fatherless was woven into the context of the law, God places responsibility on the New Testament community. Again, James articulated the expectation clearly: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1:27).

Embedding the value

Borrowing from preaching jargon, values are embedded when they are brought, taught, and caught—"brought" meaning the value is clearly spelled out, "taught" meaning the value requires clear articulation, and "caught" implying the value is embraced by the community. Here are some practical ways you can being the process of embedding a fatherless value in your church, ministry, or organizations.

1. Create an awareness of the value. Almost every church, ministry, or organization has a clearly defined mission statement. The mission statement is written out and accessible for everyone to see. To create the awareness of a fatherless value, writing a value statement is a good place to start. If you are the pastor or leader, engage in this writing process with a group of strategic leaders in your church or ministry. This will allow them to being to think about and wrap their hearts and minds around the importance of this value. You might conduct a few Bible studies on the topic or even suggest they read this book.
After an adequate time of education, engage in writing the value statement. The goal is not to write a novel but a simple statement that captures the ethos of what you want your church or ministry to embrace as it relates to fatherlessness. For example, your value statement might look something like this: According to James 1:27, Northeast Community Church values the scriptural mandate to care for the fatherless. We are committed to share God's grace to the fatherless by being sensitive to their needs and by engaging in tangible acts of service in order to enhance their lives through the love of Jesus Christ.
Your value statement will serve as a guiding principle for your church, ministry, or organization. It will spur your thinking and dreaming mechanisms to be creative in addressing the need as well as making it a priority in your church.
Once your value statement has been crafted, you can begin to use it to create awareness in your church. Here are some ideas:

• Include it in your church membership classes, seminars, or orientations.

• Place it on appropriate literature or brochures.

• Pass it out to members of your staff.

• Post it on a wall somewhere in your church where people can read it.

• Share it from the pulpit.

• Post it on your website, send out a tweet, or put it on your Facebook page.

• Post it on your website, send out a tweet, or put it on your Facebook page.

• Have a staff prayer meeting and pray over the value and its implementation.

• Write an article and include the statement, and email, blog, or mail it to church members.

• Include it in a newsletter.

• Say it over and over again.

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