SPRINGFIELD – The Missouri Baptist Children’s Home has a far-reaching network as they train and provide gospel-centered resources for foster families as they care for more than a thousand kids across the state. But as the number of at-risk children, youth and families keeps rising, even their reach isn’t far enough.
“We cannot be everywhere,” Russell Martin, the MBCH president told his trustees in July. “But almost everywhere in Missouri there is a Southern Baptist church that can provide some much-needed services to strengthen and enrich families. Hopefully we can have an impact in lessening the number of children in state custody, as well as helping connect families to churches.”
One way he hopes to make that happen is through David Burch, a long-time MBCH staff member who, Sept. 1, is taking on the role of Church Engagement Strategist. He has worked in foster home development and various leadership positions within the MBCH’s Children and Family Ministries, in addition to being a bi-vocational pastor.
“Our churches are ministering to children, youth and families,” Burch said, “and often times, they’re ministering to those families that may be at risk of relationships falling apart, parenting issues, or of child welfare agencies getting involved. We want to partner with and equip the church and ask them, ‘How can we help you be more effective as you go about your mission to be the hands and feet of Jesus to at-risk families?’”
That might look like hosting a seminar to help the church recognize risk factors for neglect, or signs of sexual abuse. It might also be a church recognizing they’re ministering to children in the community with a lot behavioral issues, issues that might extend beyond simple youthful rowdiness, and seeking help to better equip teachers to better deal with those challenges.
“There’s a wide variety of options, but it’s not us coming to the church saying ‘we’re the expert on the church,’” Burch said. “You’re the expert on your church. We just want to help churches be more effective in your community, or helping them see some examples of some things going on in their where they might can plug in.”
Burch said he plans to reach out to directors of missions across Missouri as he begins the process of seeking out churches that want to partner with MBCH.