Ministry and Disabilities - Lesson 4
Major Challenges of the Church on the Path to Maturity
Based on Scripture that discusses ecclesiology and the doctrine of the Church, this lesson highlights the importance of the Church’s theological framework. It describes the images used in Scripture to define the nature of the church and explains the six functions of the church. This lesson will help the student understand the Church as a broken body, a suffering body, and how brokenness and suffering is a pathway to maturity. Students will get a sense of the seven movements of disability ministry.
Major Challenges of the Church on the Path to Maturity
SE004-04: Major Challenges of the Church on the Path to Maturity
I. Introduction to Ministry and Disabilities
A. The Importance of Inclusivity
B. Biblical Basis for Ministry
II. Common Challenges Faced by the Church
A. Lack of Awareness and Education
B. Inaccessible Facilities and Programs
C. Attitude and Prejudice
III. Strategies for Overcoming Challenges
A. Educating Congregation and Leaders
B. Implementing Inclusive Programs and Policies
C. Fostering Positive Attitudes
IV. The Role of the Church in Supporting Individuals with Disabilities
A. Providing Emotional and Spiritual Support
B. Encouraging Participation in Ministry
C. Building a Supportive Community
- In this lesson, you learn the importance of inclusive ministry for individuals with disabilities, explore strategies for inclusivity, and address challenges in fostering an accessible church community.
- This lesson teaches you about the biblical basis for ministering to people with disabilities and provides practical steps for creating an inclusive ministry that embraces unity and diversity.
- By exploring the historical perspective on disability, you learn how attitudes have evolved and gain insight into the importance of inclusion and advocacy in today's society.
- Through this lesson, you gain insights into addressing the challenges churches face in ministering to individuals with disabilities, while understanding the importance of inclusivity, implementing strategies, and fostering a supportive community.
- You will learn the importance of inclusivity in evangelism and networking with disability ministries and organizations, as well as strategies for effective communication, community building, and accessing resources for supporting individuals with disabilities.
Does your church know how to minister to people with disabilities? Do you see them as a burden, or are they valued members of Christ's kingdom?
Do they have anything to say to those whose disabilities are not so immediately apparent? When was the last time you heard a blind pastor preach? Does he "see" things differently? This seminar contains some of the key discussions in the longer course, Beyond Suffering, at JoniandFriends.org
Ministry and Disabilities
Major Challenges of the Church on the Path to Maturity
We're going to be looking at challenges of the church today. All right. Identifying the church theological framework. Where is the church today? Practical applications for the church. Do you think of the church as an organism or an organization of both? It is both, isn't it? And unfortunately, sometimes we air on the side of one or the other, don't we? It's going to be an organism, in other words, going to be living. It's active. It's breathing. We need to understand that. But at the same time, it is an organization. We do need to have policies. We do need to have structure. We do need to have. Leadership within the church. But if we weigh heavily on one or the other too much, then an organism becomes one very unstructured. It lacks the ability to really assimilate people into the structure of the church. Becomes a little too Philly Gooding. Maybe sometimes we're going do the ministry. That feels good. That's easier to do with a hand. If we become so structured as an organization, we can begin to function with policies, right, and procedures of the church instead of the realities of human needs. Felt needs the touch of Jesus to the to the poor and the outcast. Identifying the church's theological framework. Well, really simply ecclesiology the doctrine of the church. Ecclesia ecclesia simply means those who are called out, those who are called out from the world to be set apart. So the church, you and I, those that we consider to be members of the Body of Christ, we are the called out of God belonging to the Lord, which means we have a special place in this world. So we think through the in the biblical nature of the church, and it wants to think for a moment about the nature of the church.
And there's three things I want you to think about. First of all, is that we are the people of God. Secondly, we are the body of Christ. And third, the Temple of the Holy Spirit. So Scripture speaks very loud and very clear to this. As a people of God, we belong to him and we represent him in this earth. So as we think about the camera of the man in the street. We have to think through. Are we giving a proper reflection of the character of God in how we function, how we live our express Christ to this world? Can someone look at us or the church we belong to and say, Now that's the people of God? Secondly, we are the Body of Christ was very well explained earlier. The body of Christ remembers one another of this thing called the Body of Christ, where He is the head. We are the extended members and therefore we are called to care one for another. We are to love one another. We are to live in such a way that we are caring for one another. And third, we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, the ever Bible's please turn to First Corinthians 619. First Corinthians 619. And it says this. I'll as you're turning, I'll go ahead and read. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you whom you have from God. You are not your own. When you are bought with the price of glorify God in your body. Apart talks often about this understanding of who we are as the Temple of the Holy Spirit. We are first the Temple of the Holy Spirit individually, but we're also the Temple of the Holy Spirit.
Collectively, when we come to worship, we come to share. We come to break bread together. We are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. We are that sacredness, if you will. And we must understand our sacred role in this world and how we are to live and minister to the secular without becoming a part of the secular. And that's what God has called us to to be that temple of the Holy Spirit. So from a theological perspective, the Bible is very clear that the nature of the church and in your books, by the way, I'm going to glean over some of this, because in your study guide and in your papers that you will be able to read later, this will be fleshed out more with scriptures and so forth. So I'm going to cover all these scriptures. But the nature of the church is we know who we are. This is who we are. We are the people of God. The Body of Christ, the Temple of the Holy Spirit. God has made it very, very clear to us. And one of the ways He's done that in Scripture is to use. Pitchers. Pitchers. In the Bible to help us understand our role in this Earth. Can anyone think of a picture that God uses? Marriage. Marriage? Exactly. God uses the picture of marriage to represent the body of Christ. What about other pictures? Light. Why did the world city sit on the hill? Something you can picture. You can imagine how the church is to function. Other pictures. Salt. Salt being poured out to the earth. Sewing. Farming. How about branches? LAMB. Shepherd in the lamb. Vine in the branches. What else? One. Take the fruit. What exactly are the building and stones. Right.
We are a building, Paul says. So God gives us all these pictures for us to try to get our minds around the unity. And the oneness that he is called as to all of those pictures have to speak of relationships somehow. He's using a picture, a shepherd and a sheep. Relationship marriage, the husband in the wife relationship, the branch in the wine, a relationship, the branch to the vine. Without the vine the branch becomes dead. It bears no fruit. And all those analogies, the building, even the corners, even the pieces of the building fitting together into unity. That's what God has called us to reflect. And then we think about the functions of the church. And again, this is in your in your your book with scriptures, we begin to think about who we are as the church, the nature of the church, and then we turn to the functions of the church. This is now what we do. As a church, right? Who we are and what we do. What we do. We worship God. We first and foremost, worship God both individually and collectively. Second, we bring instruction, don't we? We bring biblical teaching as to how to live out a godly life. To those who are members of the church that's inside the church. How about edification? Fellowship. Scripture speaks to the fact that inside the church we are to edify, to fellowship, to build up one another, and to care for one another. How about evangelism now outside of the church? We minister inside the church, then we minister outside of the church through evangelism within reach out to bring those who are loss obviously into fellowship with Jesus Christ first and with his body. And of course, we organize, right? Paul gives a whole litany of ways to organize with deacons and so forth in the church.
And we do ordinances, we do the Lord's Supper, we do baptism. These things were to carry out his name. So I'm going to ask you a question. I'm going to ask him to give you just a few moments in your group's. When it comes to any of these functions of the church. As it relates to the inclusion of people affected by disabilities into the church. Is there one of these that you think might be key? To bring people into the life of the church. One of these that if we got this one right, all the others would fall in place. And I'm going to give you my opinion and we're going to look at that a little bit. But I want us to also have some discussion about it before we get into it. How is it that if we were to get one of these right. What else could fall into place? Does that make sense? That makes sense. The question because it's okay. Take a few moments in your group and say, okay, let's look. Let's think about these. Which ones? If we got this thing all right, might help the others fall in place. Okay. Take a few moments. If you need anything clarified regarding that question, please let me know. If we could come back together, I'm going to ask you to keep your responses short, please. Because of our our our, our time. First of all, let me say that that there's no wrong answer here. All these. All these are important. All right. These are all in very important. And all of them can and should be considered as relates to inclusion of people affected by disabilities. We are going to focus on one particular area, though, that if we got it right, we would help everything else fall into place.
So let's hear just some opinions about what it might be. We're going to let that pretty lady. Yes. Anyway, I'm not sure I we're seeing the question from two aspects. And so we're going to just decide. I'm speaking out for the whole group. I want to have a teacher voice to. Are you speaking Japanese? Okay. If you're looking at it from what can the church, what needs to be done in the church, then? We think instruction could be one of the most important things. Because if if the church is not taught, they do what they're taught. You know, if it's not important to the leadership, it's not going to be important to the people. And the people are not going to be prepared to receive a disability ministry. Now, if you're looking at it from the aspect of the family, says Joy, shared in their experience, then it would be edification because they were they had to find a church that they were welcomed into. And then as they were welcomed, they were able to receive at that church. Very good. Very good. I'm not sure which way we were supposed. Well said. Well said. Okay. This group, did you have a difference of opinion? Oh, I can't imagine that. Not in the church. Church never disagrees with itself because I said if you bring disabled people into your worship service, which is number one, it's going to change the other five below it. That's what I said. But there some other can and will definitely attack it. That's true. Okay. Or the other means that the instruction, the Ministry of God's Word and we'll build up the body of Christ. They will worship, they will evangelize, we'll practice the ordinances and we will organize ourselves according to what are learning from the word of God.
Very good. Well done. Okay. Least perspective, edification, fellowship. That's more the demonstration of love, which then will open up the doors for others to be more effective. Very good. Very good. They all really go together, don't they? Absolutely. All right. I'm trying to be very diplomatic here, although everybody's right. Everybody gets a name. Everybody gets it. We all get a gold star. Everyone gets a gold star. I'm very culturally correct. That's correct. Yes. I need your help. Yeah, well, we talked about worship being important, but we also felt that edification, because when it's fleshed out, when people can see the compassion and the caring between each other first in the body, if I see that, you know that that you love me, that you know that people are drawn to, that we're all broken. And so we draw them in through it, through the edification of each other with ourselves. And that then leads them to worship and instruction and everything else, because it's, you know, they're loved first. Very good. Very good. All right. Well done. All right. Next group. Okay. Well, we we we battled a little bit, but we really every time we came back to worship, it really felt like that if your heart is in the right place in worship and not just a worship, just an act of worship, that the things that you do in living out and acting out worship in God, that in true worship, you'll seek out instruction that you will edify and that you will evangelize and tell the people and the organization will happen as worship is there. Okay. All right. And to add to the plan, right. Yes. To add to what he's saying, you know, worship is liturgy and lifestyle. It's personal and corporate.
And so you have people like, I think Romans 12. You know, are you therefore running to offer your bodies as living sacraments holy to God for this is your spiritual act of worship, You know, And so I think if people are worshiping God, then everything else should fall through. But the big thing is that we're sinful. So organizations can be, you know, and instruction, you know, the even the demons know about Jesus. So where is you in Strictly Come from? Because I think all of us heard sinners in the hands of an angry God in high school. But it was taught, right? It was taught by a non-Christian. So it didn't make an impact, I think, you know. All right. Some good points from our worship. Good. Very good. Excellent. Our last table, like table number two, we did not come to a consensus. All right, I can. I can imagine you, each of us. All right. All right. How about? Well, it's just in a nutshell. Well, I wouldn't it's hard to argue with that, but I was just saying that. But that she's in. You can't. Yeah, that's right, Pasricha. And my perspective is that worship is foremost. And number one, because it's very we worship as the Lord Jesus worship experience. Through that, all the others will fall into place because we're living it out. As you all were saying, it comes out of us automatically by the Holy Spirit. He There's a fruit through us by that we're in the other opinions of different evangelism, vandalism and vacation. Okay. And number two through five is the result of spiritual gifts or rejects. That sort of an add on, though, if you worship any invoke spirit and truth about music, those who worship every one of those in God see, But there's nothing like a party to do that.
So if you worship in a way that's basically got nobody to through by following that way and blocking, they don't perceive something that they want to challenge. The concept of worship, as we think of it, is that one our living in our hour right on Sunday. Right. That's not the only way to worship. Worship is 24 hours a day. So excellent. Very good. I'm going to stop inviting teachers. You're making my job very difficult. You guys gave some great explanations. Great explanations. And you're all right, because all of these are the areas that technically, as you said, hey, if we got this right, we got this right to make so many things easier. And the challenges is that in so many of our churches today, unfortunately, we're not doing that, are we? We're not doing the hard work of maybe adjusting the issues related to worship for those to join us. We're not thinking through instruction by way of how would we modify this maybe for our friends with intellectual disabilities were challenged by that. That's why most of our most of our churches we see today are very segregated, aren't they? We just are being very realistic. We're segregated in many ways. Same thing with evangelism. How do we make evangelism impactful and effective for folks with various disabilities or various intellectual? How do we how we think through faith development for those with intellectual disabilities? And, of course, organizing our programs. How are we thinking through the development of our programs for inclusion of all people? I mean, are we doing that? Well, generally we're not. These are challenges for the church, but they're challenges we can work through ordinances. Ordinances is a huge issue in churches today. You would not believe the controversy over whether or not some folks can receive baptism or receive the Lord's Communion based off their cognitive understanding.
Okay. These are huge issues that we've got to think through the church. I'm going to throw out number three edification. That's what I'm going to throw out today as if we got this right. If we got this right. Guess what? We can work everything else out. Yes, they're all important. They're all connected. Worship, teaching? Absolutely. All of them are connected. But I'm on challenges with thinking through the early church and this issue and understanding of what they called coin, the neo, Right. Going to need the ingredient for the community of life, this understanding of communion, fellowship and shared community. In doing church, we often forget to be the church. It's a very powerful term that was used throughout the New Testament and was used explicitly to define and help explain the early Church of Jesus Christ. In your books, there are lots of scriptures that speak to this. There are scriptures that are going to speak to the unity with believers acts to 42 to 44. You can read that on your own, where it talks about the believers having all things in common. I talked about the believers coming together in worship and teaching instruction, the breaking of bread in this understanding of koinonia caring one for another. It's used to explain this unity with believers. It's used to explain unity with Christ. First Corinthians one nine and other verses. It's used to describe unity between the Trinity and the church. This deep understanding of intimacy and fellowship, it's even a term used often in marriage, this understanding of oneness between a husband and a wife. It's a very powerful term that Paul uses and it's used in partnership in the Gospel. In Galatians two nine, where Paul talks about the Galatians partnership with him in the gospel.
He calls it a coin in near this intimate fellowship that we have in sharing the gospel together. And I just want to challenge us today to think through this understanding of what it means to come together. In such a way as a body of Christ. That I have this, this, this intimate knowing. That you or my sister in Christ, you are my brother in Christ, that I have a fellowship with you that the world does not understand. The world cannot comprehend this level of relationship and community. That we have. They've never experienced it because it's so deep, it's so intimate that what's mine is yours. And we have all things in common. This was a picture of the early church. I think it's the purest form of the early church. It's very similar what you guys drew here. You drew community people fellowship together. When we think of the church doing all the things we talked about, doing worship together, doing the teaching of the work together. And if we have that proper teaching, guess what? We will be living out the fellowship, won't we? It does all work together. In the moment. I want to I want us to look at a case study in terms of a family that struggled in their church to be accepted with their son with autism. And I want us to be thinking through this understanding of Koinonia as it pertains to their experience. And as you have time to read the papers that are in your study guide and reflect upon them, it will it will bring out more this understanding of Koinonia. But for now, I want you to watch this video and have some discussion about it. One of the first thank you both for being here and for allowing us to really come into your home and to hear from you today.
I want to start with a simple question, and that is just tell us about James. Well, James is eight years old, and when he was about a year, we started having some concerns. The way he was responding and some behavioral issues. And it was an ordeal that lasted, what, about six months or so of different being referred to, which just we thought maybe had a problem hearing. And that led to a referral and various evaluations. And finally, out of about 18 months, he was diagnosed with mild autism. Now, life with autism has got to create some challenges for you as a family with your schedules, your social activities, trying to relate to other families and other parents. Can you speak to us a little bit about that? One of the greatest challenges has been we have two other daughters in addition to James. And just to be able to create a normal life, whatever that has meant, we've had to redefine normal for our family, which has been fun and exciting in some ways, but really challenging in some other ways. You know, we've had from the time he was two, so the last six years or so has probably been an average of 2 to 3, sometimes more therapy sessions per day. So I'm in the home where, you know, you have the stranger in your home every day, you know, telling you how to raise your kid. And, you know, we've needed that that help and support. But it gets you know, it's a struggle. It's also been hard to establish friendships with families who do not have children with disabilities because James's uniqueness. It challenges the ability to be able to just go in and go to lunch after church one day or go celebrate a friend's birthday because we don't know how he's going to react.
Another thing that we deal with this is, you know, the ukulele and the stimming of just movie talk constantly. And so we just wish she would be quiet. Hi, I'm James. I'm a filling neighbor. You know, I like a little bit by fire, you know, and all these wanted to be a star. Could you just share with us a little bit about how the stress of of trying to parent a son with autism has had upon your marriage? It has put our marriage on the brink of disaster. Many times. And it's terrible because, you know, marriage is hard enough. I mean, under the best circumstances, it's challenging and you have issues to work through. And then suddenly in your face, every moment of every day is this gigantic issue that there's no right answers for. The best experts in the field. You know, can't really tell you what you need to do about this. Much less family friends. And. And trying to agree on things, trying to, you know. Boundless, you know. How much do you spend on therapy? How much time do you devote to it? Which therapist you like? Uh, it is an unbelievable strain on a marriage. It's taken. An incredible amount of dedication to stick it out at times. And it's not because you don't love each other. It's. It's because it's just so hard and you're tired and frustrated. You're at a loss. Tom and Blocker, share with us a little bit about your experience in in trying to attend church and include James in church. Nobody ever asked what my story was. You're the first person who has asked what our story has been. There was a period of time at the church that we were dealt maybe the hardest blow of all of all through this whole journey.
You know, James had a lot of behavioral problems, disruptive behavior, particular biting, aggressive behavior. And, you know, we were doing everything we could to try to manage the behavior. And we were even volunteering in this class to be as one on one. We we would even take turns attending the class with him and trying to, you know, shadow him around one on one to to catch him. And I remember one time, Luke, we showed up and the other volunteers weren't there. And we were there basically just because we were going to try to one on one show him and the other volunteers didn't show up. And we wound up in charge of this class of, what, 20, 25 kids? And and at one point. There was an incident with another with a little girl and he and he bitter. Before we could get to it and we felt terrible and. But the next Saturday night after that incident, we were called by someone from the church and and told not to bring it to church. And this person told us that there were about ten families that had contacted them and said, if James is there, we're not going to be in our family anymore. And I don't know, man, that was about the low point of my journey. Uh. What what what do you do with that? You've already lost a lot of the dreams. You know. You've already grieved the child you didn't have. You know, you dream of, you know, the sports he's going to play the you know, the schools. He's going to go to the girl. He's going to marry all of that. You've kind of given up all that already. And and then you're just dreaming of being able to manage that behavior and function as a family.
And you're assuming part of that is going to be your church, your church life and. I didn't feel like that's being taken away from here. We were at a crisis and I was like, What are we going to do? And I remember just saying, You know what? We got to keep going. We got to keep going to church. And I don't want to make people leave, but it's my church and it's my son. Where we go, he lost. I was a relatively new Christian. I didn't grow up in the church. I had been a Christian for about ten, 12 years when when all this happened. But I was excited about God. I was excited about doing ministry for him. Part of part of what I thought our plan was going to be was to help out in a church, in some kind of ministry, and to all of a sudden have the church just not only close the door, but say, your child is not welcome here. It just kind of your whole world just crumbles. And how do you get up from that when part of your spiritual strength. Has come from the body of Christ. That was that was a huge one for me to be able to come to terms with. But but God had a plan for all of this, you know, And there's still you know, there's a little loneliness there that is never going to quite go away, I don't think. Did the Siebels experience coin? O'Neal The prime example of this prime example of this disunity. The church apparently didn't really understand this coin in the year and been taught it had. Was living it. Because going back to what Glen was saying is, You mean there's no other ideals? You mean out of ten families? I mean, if they got this thing, if they.
Here's what comes to mind. What frustrates me so much, if if I get I get that you are my brother, you are my sister. You belong to. This is your family. You belong to us. You're in the family of God. So what you're going through? Guess what? We're going to help you through it. I don't know how to work with James. Not real sure. But will you teach us? Because whatever happens here, whatever the outcome is, it can't be that you're rejected. It can't be that you're pushed out of the church. It's got to be something different. So there's. There's ten couples. That's 20 people. I'll tell you what. How about one of us take one Sunday a month, work with James if you teach us. But whatever happens, don't leave. Because we know you need us and we need you. So I would suggest that we try to be a little bit more compassionate, if you will, both for the reaction of the church. I'm not saying we endorse it, but in this day and age, the legal pressure on churches is incredible. There's a lot of worship. Yes. In other words, all it takes is one fight. It turns into an infection and it turns into a hospitalization. And that church is liable. They can be sued big time. And if you have part of the second and if you have several families who are looking at that issue and saying why you knew this child was potentially harmful, why didn't you prevent this from happening? All it takes is one lawsuit to close the church. And so there are significant legal pressures inside and nowadays on every institution, including our beloved church. That's true. There are issues you've got to look at just like you have to with the toddlers.
Right. Because toddlers bite lots of biting with toddlers. But churches have. That ministry to toddlers, don't they? Right. So these are things you're right, we have to take into consideration, but we can work through them if we. Right. Understand this thing of you're part of me. And so lots of discussion. Hillary, you've had your hand up, you know, as a semi school teacher in my own church. Where were the other Sunday school teachers that were supposed to be leading that class or the Sea Worlds were supposed to be watching their son, but yet things were you see, we'll learn from their kid bits from other kid. Well, where where were the other Sunday school teachers in trouble? Yeah, there are lots of factors in this story. So the blame can be spread around. Cannot blame can be spread around, not just to to the church, but maybe the students could have been more involved as well. Maybe other teachers could have been more involved as well. So we have to not think through how to resolve that particular issue. But maybe the bigger picture of. Where's the church to come around the family and to work through those issues, to think through those with them. And that's, I think, the heart of what it means to have this queen, the need to have this understanding that we are going to not reject, but we're going to work through these things with you to the degree that we, as the body of Christ, can do that. And I'm sorry. We got we got we got to go on. We got to go on. Here's what we need to do. We need to look at another case study and compare the two. Thank you, Danny and Marisol, for allowing us to come into your home today.
De Marzo, just want to start off with asking you. Just tell us a little bit about about Megan herself. Your daughter Megan was born with our three great poses, and basically there was not enough amnio amnio fluid in the womb. And so her muscles were, like, contracted. Along with that, she had dislocated hips. So she had been wheelchair bound all her life. And she's very social. Mentally she's capable of a lot of was just physically. And then physically she just needs a lot of help with transferring of that that her arms are very, very strong. Now, she's 17 years old and she's in a wheelchair and it hasn't been easy. Now, Marshall, you actually came into this family three or four years ago. I know. And so there had to be some challenges for you as you entered into a family that was already affected by disability. For a minute there, I thought we were alone, that, you know, there was nobody who could identify with us. When I saw that the church had a support group for parents of disabled children. It was like a godsend because everyone was very welcoming. We felt at home. We were a discussion table and we were just they were discussing me, you know, being a parent of a disabled child and feeling the same feelings that I've been feeling. The challenges and the I don't want to say discrimination, but the challenges that you have when you're out in public and. And and. I felt, Wow, I can't believe this. This is awesome. I love it. Thank God that that we found that place because I felt there was hope for our relationship. Yeah. I'll never forget that day. It was just raining as hard and we were running late.
And, uh, the whole experience is just overwhelming to know that there was a place where we were accepted and our child was accepted, and it just meant a lot to us. I was really overwhelmed that we weren't just. It wasn't just about us. It wasn't just, you know, we were alone with other families that. We felt welcomed. And I think what do we pray? I think we prayed that at the end of that session, of that parent meeting and. It was just overwhelming to know that their prayers were similar to many of mine that I've had in the past. And we felt really comforting. And it was a place that we knew that we were going to go back to. And it was a it was a small sea that was planted, and now it's our home. Now, I know you guys were recently married within the last couple of years. And the ministry, the disability ministry at the church, which brought you closer to God and one another, had some some impact on that. Tell us a little bit about that being part of our church. It brought it's brought our relationship to a more, I guess, more intimate in a more spiritual place that it had never been before. And it was kind of exciting. It was kind of exciting to know that it wasn't just me, Marty and Megan, it was me, my Megan and God. And he was a part of our relationship. And I think in my mind and I think I even shared with my soul that in order to have a future or, you know, to be plan to get married, that we needed somebody. We needed God in our life. Being involved in church and in that disability ministry, sharing with other families.
And then. That was our first step into church. After that, we said, we can't we can't live without the church being in our lives and part of our lives. We felt very close and we said, you know, this is something that we have to have forever. Can you tell me what it was like for for Megan when she began to participate in the youth group? The experiences of Megan being in the youth group. Megan had went to somebody's house. They had like a fellowship night. And I came to pick up Megan, and there was. It was time to pick her up. And we're trying to head out the door. And one of the girls came up to me and she said, But Megan wanted to ask you a question, but she was kind of nervous to ask you. And I was like, Well, what's the question? And she said, We're having a sleepover. Just some of the girls, and we'd like to know if she can come with us. And I'm like, Well, you know what this entails. If she comes with you, was there going to be someone who's going to be able to help change your health care at every wheelchair? And they both looked at me, Megan and the girl, and their eyes were just smile like, Yeah, we know what it entails. It's fine. And I never forgot how that felt because. They wanted her just the way she was, and there was no hesitation in them asking. And. I don't know. It just touch me. I walked to the car and I told my what had happened and I was in tears. Because there was somebody who accepted my daughter for who she was. And. It just meant a lot to me.
And when I dropped Megan off that day for the sleepover, she had blast and I was kind of beside myself. I just was just overwhelmed. The love they had. And the acceptance for that moment was just beautiful. Is there anything you'd like to say to a group of students that are watching this, this interview that maybe we haven't mentioned or hit upon when it comes to disability ministry in the church? What I feel that's important, I guess, for us at church and part of it's good and part of it's bad I. I know that we're in church. I know that we're in fellowship with our our friends and other families and other kids that are special needs. It's a beautiful experience. And I know. That there's a place where we're accepted. But back then, I guess the downside to that is that when we're at school, when we're out in the community, we're out with family, when we're out at the mall. It's not the same. Because not everybody shares that spirit of. Of God's love and acceptance. And sometimes it's disheartening to know that, you know, we're not going to be at church the rest of the week and to know that they'll be places where my daughter's not going to be accepted and. It's hard. So for what? For what church brings it outside of church? It's a cold world. And it's very hard for me to as a parent to know that that's what my daughter has to go up against. I know with God she can do anything. I know with God's love she can be strong. And I know as far as we're involved in church, I know that's a safe place for me. God bless the people who. Who have it in their heart to work at church or to minister to the disabled community because.
There are people that like us or like me that, you know, had no hope. But thank God that there were, um, people open. To minister to the disabled community to give us comfort and hope for the future. And. It's amazing the people that that are interested in working with the disabled, I think they're they're very special human beings that that have it in their heart to do that. And I'm so grateful. Denny Morrison, I want to thank you so much for opening up your home and your lives to us, sharing with us what it was like for you to participate and to be welcomed into a church with a disability ministry and how that's impacted your life and your family. Thank you so much for your time. We really appreciate it. Thank you for the opportunity. Thanks. Okay. So this is a had a new family because they had a different experience. Quite different experience, different situations. Right. They didn't have a son with autism. Not quite as challenging. But nonetheless, they experienced a great deal of this warmth and fellowship within the church. What are some of the words that came out of their mouths about their experience at church? Safe place. Hope. Acceptance. One, two. Did they experience going to any? This this family experience coined a new Disney. Now, what was the difference maker? The behavior. Behavior. That's right. Of the. Of the people of God. Behavior of the people of God made all the difference in the world. Attitude. The attitude of the people. Was this church prepared for the. Getting back to some of our points to your point. The first family. The church just wasn't prepared, were they? They were not prepared at all to welcome this family affected by disability.
And one wonders how the second church would have responded to James. It's a good question. Let's talk about that. You're going to hear the rest of the story. Because believe it or not, this is the same church. The same church. Here's the difference. The Siebels experience was before there was a disability ministry. The hot meals experience was two years after a disability ministry had been established. And now let's hear the rest of the story. All tells us in Corinthians that we are to comfort those who are mourning or being challenge or suffering with the same comfort we've received from God. But didn't seem, in your experience, that you received that identification, that comfort from the church. Tell us a little bit about how that felt. I think that it would be. Appropriate when one is grieving the way we were. To just be able to say, We love you. We don't know what to do about this. But you're not alone. And I remember at one point we were talking and and I just remember it was like God speaking to me. And we finally made the commitment that, you know, that we were going to stick it out. And and I remember looking at my wife and saying, I understand it, but I just sense that somebody is going to be blessed by how we handle this situation. But I know at some point the tide turned a little bit. There was a shift in the culture of the church. The church began to reach out to your family and volunteers began to Carmen alongside you and your son. And eventually a disability ministry was birth in your church. You guys, your family was was a part of that. Can you share a little bit about the blessings that that began to happen and the change that began to happen and when the tide began to kind of change a little bit and there were signs of hope, people stepped forward.
We didn't even know before that just responded to the need and the kindness of these, you know, people that were really strangers to us, that just all of a sudden we're like these angels, you know, that God sent. And and they embraced our son and faithfully came and shadowed him around and allowed him to be part of the class and took the pressure off of us so that we could actually sit in church and hear a little bit of the sermon without necessarily just worrying about, Oh God, I hope it's not another one of those days. The the support group meetings, even just as a couple. Uh. You know, the volunteers watch the children and even just as a couple to have a couple of hours without the kids. So to hear some of the other moms and dads share from the heart, a lot of the pretention is gone. Once you have a special needs kid, you get less pretentious because you can't you can't hide and pretend you're perfect anymore. It's right there. There's just a spiritual depth, this profound that that it's just, you know, when you walk away from something like that, you know that God has been there with you to see, you know, maybe a couple dozen families there and a couple dozen special needs children running around and. To see those parents. Look like they belong. Looks like they're having fun and look like for just those few moments, they're not worried about their kids. They're not worried about what anyone is thinking. I think those moments have been the most powerful for me as a parent to see those other parents and just say, Yeah, you're okay here. You're safe. You're safe. God has been very good to us.
We've. We've known some some pain. We really have no pain. But to be able to experience God's God's blessing in the church. That's from him. You know, so you know that the pain is this worth going through is worth experiencing because it's something. It's about someone greater and it's about a purpose greater than my dream for my child. It's about God's dream for his children. And he's he has chosen genes to be a part of that. And. That that consoles me. That encourages me. That gives me hope. Is there anything from your heart you'd like to share to a classroom full of students who are studying disability ministry as they go out and either continue in the ministry they're involved in, or look at maybe starting a ministry in their church? The first thing I think is don't be afraid. Don't be afraid of our families. Don't be afraid of the kids. Don't be afraid of the adults who might be. There's still people and they still need the love, they still need the support, they still need to be heard. And then the other thing would be. Take one family at a time. You know, we live in a society and even the church has suffered from this, that we just want to grow things so quickly. So it's all about the numbers. And and I think that especially within disability ministry, you have the opportunity to to really touch the life and the hearts of a family who who is. Wanting to to just be understood and heard. Thank you again, Tom Blunk, for allowing us to come in and to your lives, to your home today to hear from you. God bless you. The rest of the story did it in? Well, yes.
Did it in well. Is it God good? We know he can change the culture of a church and he can even use families that have experienced pain and suffering like the Siebels to accomplish his will in that in your study guide in the back there is a skit that sometimes we perform, but we're not going to perform it now. And you guys should be thankful because you would be performing it. And it's called Pastor Pickle, and it's based off Ezekiel Chapter 34. And encourage you to read that skit because it is about a very powerful passage of scripture in these Article 34 about the strong budding out, the weak in that God says that is is not my justice. I will raise up a shepherd to take care of the weak sheep. It's a powerful, powerful text of scripture and the shit that goes along with it brings that out as it relates to people affected by disability. So I encourage you read that we're going to wrap up this particular lesson by just talking about quickly coming to be a church of Maturity, a church that moves down that path and understands what it means to welcome families affected by disabilities. Again, I encourage you to read these materials because so much is in there that you're going to take away as you read those and you reflect upon them. We're going to take a break in just a moment. I'm going to take executive privilege of allowing myself a few more moments and then we'll take a break. And then Mrs. Pat Verbal, who is our curriculum manager in the C.I.D. And you may you may notice on the front of your book there's in small letters. It says with Pat verbal. Those should be really big letters, we tell you, because Pat has been so influential in shepherding this project and really bringing it about.
But just to wrap up before we take a break, as we think through your lesson, your study guide is going to say, how do we move to be a mature church? And the first thing we talk about is that we are a broken body and the Church of Jesus Christ has to come to that place where it starts looking at a family like the Siebels and says, You're broken. Go somewhere else and saying, You know what? We're broken too. And God has called us to love one another in our brokenness to understand we're not the perfect church with the perfect style of whatever clothes and dress and cars and everything's well. Some churches may want to be that way, but God's called us to be a church that lives with authenticity. And that is, we're broken. And he's the one that makes us whole. And therefore we embrace one another in their brokenness. From that, we understand that we are the suffering body crises. The example Paul set the example and Peter tells us you will experience suffering. Do not be surprised, brothers, he says, by the suffering that you are experiencing, knowing that this is even the will of God for you at times. He allows you to go through these circumstances and these experiences as we think through what it means to be the suffering body of Christ. That means that we are reaching out to those who are experiencing suffering in their lives and embracing them in incarnation or ministry, identifying with them, including them, into the life of the church, and finally the church as the mature body, understanding our brokenness, understanding that suffering is still part of God's plan, understanding what it means to live in maturity. Which, as a study brings out, means we know what it means.
We know what it is to have the privilege of ministering to people affected by disability. It is a privilege. It is a calling. Also, it's a privilege to allow people affected by disabilities to join the priesthood of believers that they are called by God to utilize their skills, their gifts within the church. One of our very good friends, Jerry Borton, who serves as a staff member of Gianni and Friends, I think he says it very, very well. When we talk about the priesthood of believers, what it means to allow those affected by disabilities to also serve in the body of Christ. And Jerry says this. To not allow those with disabilities to serve in the body of Christ is asking them to be guests in the House of the Lord forever. And who wants to be a guest forever? You do belong. You want to use what God's given you to serve others. We need to understand the priesthood of believers includes people affected by disabilities, their natural gifts, and their spiritual gifts to serve in leadership and other other places within the church. And finally, the privilege of understanding our call to serve the Luke 14 mandate. We are called to go out, bring, reach out and bring in people affected by disabilities. And when a church begins to understand this maturity, it moves from a church. It says, We don't want to deal with those issues. It changes its culture, it begins to teach its people, begins to understand koinonia. So it becomes the welcoming church that's already prepared, already ready for your family to come. We've thought through what it takes to welcome and embrace you as a family affected by disabilities. I really hope you enjoy what we talked about today, what the videos, the discussion that we've had and that you will enjoy all the reading materials that go with this particular lesson.
The benefit of doing the one week intensive is that you get it all at once with a lot of wonderful people and you get lots of discussion. The only downside is you don't have the time to do all the reading and preparation for each lesson. So I encourage you when you leave this week, don't just reflect on your notes, but really spend time. There's rich, rich papers, which is where these lessons are drawn out of. To read those, reflect upon those and see how God would use those in your life.