Here's a “wish list”, created by mothers of what they would find helpful for local churches to offer families who have children with special needs.
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As congregational members who do not have intellectual disabilities engage week in and week out with those who do, everyone learns and grows. People have to learn how to talk with others who are much different from them. That requires everyone to take risks, to reach out to one another, to have awkward conversations that will, over time, become less awkward.
“In a typical congregation of 200 adults, 50 will experience depression at some point, and at least 30 are currently taking antidepressants.” (Dan Blazer, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University, in Christianity Today, March 2009). What could that mean for your church's preaching, programming, pastoral care, and congregational care?
As a church becomes an active and visible place for inclusion of everybody within their midst, that church will become attractive and welcoming for any neighbor seeking a place to name and take pleasure in the “good news expressed in my church.”
Most often, we Christians don’t feel a particularly warm response toward laws that impose themselves on church practices such as our facilities and our public events. But someone sent me an article recently that celebrates a law that requires churches to comply.
Work was one of the many blessings God gave to humankind when they were created. (Genesis 1:22 and 2:15) As a society, we need to do everything possible to provide our citizens opportunities to work. These opportunities must include supported employment such as sheltered workshops.
The means by which violence is perpetrated against people with disabilities varies widely, but the statistics clearly indicate that people with disabilities are much more likely to have emotional and physical violence perpetrated against them than the general population.
I celebrate the accomplishments of Derrick Coleman and Nick Vujicic and the others, but I want to get to know people on their own terms. I don’t want to paint anyone with stereotypes that have been formed in my mind by media. But how do I do that?
I have a dream that the body of Christ will show society how welcome and hospitality are done right. I have a dream that the body of Christ will be the first place people living with disabilities will go to find acceptance, warmth, and opportunities to use their gifts in meaningful ways.
Following these resolutions won't cost your church a penny. More importantly, becoming a welcoming congregation to people who have disabilities will help your church think through what Christian hospitality and love are really about. You’ll be a better and more loving community for the effort, and 2014 will bring new blessings that you couldn’t possibly imagine.
Guest blogger, Marlene Natelborg, reminds readers that our choices about candles, cleaning products, perfume and aftershave can create problems for some people and even keep them away from worship. Our daily choices can hurt or help.
Many people loathe December and January. Holiday parties can bring pain along with joy. People renew old tensions, unbury hatchets, and pronounce judgments on others. Perhaps even worse, some people sit home alone, uninvited to gatherings with loneliness blowing cold like a winter draft.