The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part dependent I every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance. The Message
When I see the body of Christ, the Church, I see a diversified body where everybody is welcome.
- A place where race, color, and sex doesn’t matter.
- Where we embrace people with extraordinary abilities and those with special needs.
- Those who are single, a widow, or divorced.
- Those who are rich or poor.
- Those who are healthy or ill.
We are part of the body of Christ and are needed. How can we embrace those who often don’t feel welcome?
We are often focused on programming
Yes, that is important, but first we have to focus on our hearts and attitudes.
“We must recognize that each of our friends who have disabilities is uniquely gifted and lovingly created in God’s image. We will never help our friends affected by disability fully belong if we think of them as “less” and doubt God’s ability to work in their lives.” (Pathways to Belonging)
Blessings from God often come in unexpected packages
My son Chris’ gift was to fully participate in worship. He didn’t care that his words were not easy to understand or that he didn’t sing on key. He just worshipped with his whole being: singing with gusto and raising his arms. With his slow, deep voice, he said the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostle Creed, slightly behind everyone else, but it didn’t matter.
Once we recognize that everyone is part of the body, what’s next?
Listen to the family to learn more about what they need. It may be as simple as just making them feel welcome and they can be part of the already existing program. Sometimes, it may be more individualized.
What type of environment meets the needs of the person and their family?
Can a child’s needs be meant within the programs currently being provided with special supports or does it need to be more specialized?
Listening to the individual or family to better understand the situation allows for more complete problem-solving to meet the individualized needs of each individual.
When doing this, there will be challenges, trial and errors, sorrows and joys, but if our hearts are in the right place, we can to this. The key is to join together with the family and seek guidance so together, we can figure out how to provide a place where all feel welcome and a part of the Body of Christ.
There are many wonderful materials available to assist your church is doing this. Can I assist you in this process? You can reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn more in Connie’s previous blog article: What Does It Take to Offer Hospitality to an Individual with Disabilities by Connie Vooys