Do you have individuals with disabilities in your church? If you answered ‘no’, you need to think about the ‘why not’. Is there something that prevents your church from being a place where individuals with disabilities feel welcome? That in itself will have to be an entirely different conversation. If you answered ‘yes’ would you also say that these individuals are ‘part’ of the church?
Many churches have programs to serve individuals with disabilities– to teach them– give them something to participate in. This is a good starting point, but what about what they have to offer your church? How are they serving? How are they giving?
I wholeheartedly believe we have all been created in God’s image. We are designed for a purpose: to serve him with the gifts that we have been given.
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works which he has planned in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
The word ‘we’ is inclusive– there is no differentiating between who is and who isn’t God’s workmanship. WE are ALL his masterpiece!
So often we view individuals with disabilities as individuals who need to be served. We work with them, help them and serve them. Their presence among us makes us feel good because it gives us the opportunity to serve. We feel good about it. We are doing good. How sad it is that we so often miss this true fact: individuals with disabilities experience joy when they too figure out how to serve and give.
So are the individuals with disabilities in your church serving and giving or are they simply ‘there’?
Yesterday at a meeting, I listened as my colleague explained our ‘dream’ for churches to be truly inclusive. It can be characterized in a conversation that may go something like this:
“This is my friend. She is on the praise team and helps serve coffee. She loves to help in the office and often helps with set up in the sanctuary– oh and she also happens to have a disability.“
I would love to hear stories from churches who are striving to be inclusive. Churches who are going beyond the simply ‘there’ to looking for ways to have everyone experience joy through serving and giving.
If you have such a story, please pass on to me: firstname.lastname@example.org