Visiting a Church with Your Special Needs Child
Just in case you missed it…Ministry-to-Children.com posted my article Visiting a Church with Your Special Needs Child: Try this 4-Step Plan. For the past 24 months I have served as a volunteer researcher and writer focused on helping churches successfully include children with special needs. Through many interviews, I have heard stories where a child’s first visit to a church ended in disappointment. As a lay minister, my focus is 99% on helping churches prepare for students affected by disability. However, parents can do as much or more to help facilitate a successful first church experience. Ministry-to-Children.com’s article (linked above) offers practical pointers that parents and churches have shared with me over the past two years.
A note to parents who have been hurt by a church…it is important to recognize that churches are susceptible to dysfunction much like any secular organization. We can argue that churches should be different. But the reality is that churches are inhabited by and led by error-prone, sinful human beings. As if that wasn’t enough, churches are almost completely reliant on unpaid (or comparatively underpaid) workers. The finite resources of a church often place frustrating limits on its ministries. Considering all these factors, we should not be surprised when we experience disappointment with the church.
Despite its failings, the church is still Christ’s preferred vehicle for discipleship and spiritual growth. If you are in the process of healing from disappointment with the church, pray for God’s help in moving toward a renewed church connection. Very possibly God is leading your family away from the last congregation. Indeed there are some faith environments that are toxic and unfavorable for spiritual growth. But here’s the good news: solid faith communities do exist. And God is calling an increasing number of passionate believers to embrace special needs inclusion. As 2011 is beginning, consider making a renewed attempt to pursue accommodation and connection with a spiritually healthy group of believers.
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