Lately I have been doing a lot of web design using WordPress–it is the engine that drives my blog.  Many websites using WordPress allows users to sign up for accounts and then website Administrators can assign new users a role like “Contributor”, “Author”, “Editor”, or “Administrator”.  However, Administrators can also choose to leave users with “no role” at all.  Now here is something you may not know.  Users who are never given a role on the website are called “Orphans.”  In other words, an Orphaned user can choose to join the site, but they still may have no real purpose.

Orphaned users on a WordPress blog is one thing, but Orphans in the Church is a whole different matter.  There are two kinds of Orphans I see in the church.

  • Orphans by Design – Some churches encourage new users (membership), but they resist giving them a meaningful role in the church Family.
  • Orphans by Choice – Some people love the consumerist benefits of being a user of the church, but wont commit to help in serving the church.

Whether you are an Orphan by Design or Choice, the result is the sameーyou are not experiencing the joy of Christian faith! The Scriptures teach us that at one time every believer was an Orphan, but through Jesus’ death and resurrection we are adopted as Sons into His Family (church).  So many times in the past I have taught on this very topic and emphasized the blessings of adoption;  we have an eternal inheritance,  we have the hope of eternity, we have the blessing of Church, but much like the Prodigal Son, each one of us can be a Son, and still chose to live like an Orphan.

What I have learned from WordPress design is that Adoption into Jesus’ church is incomplete without a role for every person. It is not enough to “sign-up” for membership.  It is not enough to be adopted.  Church “users” must be given and/or seek out their purpose, use their giftings, and serve the church.

Read more articles like this on my regular Column @ ChurchPlanting.Com

Dr. J.R. Miller is a Professor of Applied Theology and Leadership & Dean of Online Learning at Southern California Seminary. Outside work, he is a church planter. Dr. Miller has a diverse educational background and authored multiple books on church history, biblical theology, and Leadership. Joe and his wife Suzanne enjoy the sun and surf with their 3 sons in San Diego, CA.

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