Praise God! Disability Ministry is no longer a priority at our church.
That probably sounds like an odd statement from someone for whom disability services and ministry course through my body as sure as my blood flows. Let me explain . . .
The leadership team at our church prayerfully sets the course for the priorities on which we will focus over the next three to five years. Several years ago five priorities were presented to the congregation: Justice; Prayer; Disability Ministry; Community Outreach and Urban Ministry. We were told that these would be a focus for the next few years. What transpired over that time would determine if these would continue to be a priority. The leaders realized God was already working in disability ministry and we should make that our first priority focus.
What a joy it has been to see the church (i.e. the people!) embrace both the individual with a disability, as well as their family members. Originally one Sunday School class was started by a couple of moms many years ago when their children were young. They served so faithfully and with little to no recognition. When the priority was initiated the ministry included about 20 students total in either a self contained classroom, some in inclusion with a buddy and a Wednesday night club program.
Today, three and a half years later 136 individuals have participated in multi class and inclusion ministry, respite events, young adult clubs and outreaches. The church hired one part time Disability Services Coordinator (Lori), and is in the process of hiring a second. Thank you Lori and team for your wise and committed leadership, and the stats for this post.
Those numbers don’t even include all the moms and dads who are now connected with the church, those with physical disabilities, or those who make use of the deaf interpretation.
Lori can always use more volunteers in the ministry; that’s how they can serve more people. It is amazing to me to see the people line up to serve when the need is mentioned from the pulpit. Volunteers lives are changed as they build friendships with student with disabiliteis and special needs.
In fact, while waiting for more volunteers, Disability Ministry even had a waiting list! The waiting list was resolved with our church’s expansion to a second location. We were told by the pastor of that site (and others) that disability ministry will be a part of the DNA of that site from day one. We have seen that to be true.
With all this wonderful growth and people being reached, why would I celebrate disability ministry being taken off the priority list?
Because disability ministry has indeed become part of the fabric of church life. Is it a perfect disability ministry? No, but then again where is a perfect one? Does it meet and encompass the needs of every person or family with a disability? Probably not (yet!) But the vision has changed and with that people have changed. The priority status has dropped because there is now an understanding being lived out that the Body of Christ, universally and in our individual church is not complete until all are welcomed and embraced.