Ministry and Disabilities - Lesson 5

Evangelism and Networking with Disability Ministries and Organizations

Rarely do we think of families affected by disability in light of the Great Commission. The reason for this is that we do not understand the relationship between the Great Mission Statement, The Great Commission, and The Great Mandate. This lesson sheds light on this relationship and also provides reasons why people with disabilities may reject the Gospel. It describes how to present the Gospel to people with disabilities and offers some practical models for outreach.

People in the disability community endure many obstacles as they make their way in this often inhospitable world. This lesson will help students appreciate some of these obstacles and will also explain how Christian and secular organizations can work together to relieve some of the burden. It provides practical ways to locate and network with government and private agencies, to work for social and ethical justice, and to understand Joni and Friends’ worldwide initiatives.

Taught by a Team
Taught by a Team
Ministry and Disabilities
Lesson 5
Watching Now
Evangelism and Networking with Disability Ministries and Organizations

SE004-05: Evangelism and Networking with Disability Ministries and Organizations

I. Understanding Disabilities in Ministry Contexts

A. Different Types of Disabilities

B. Challenges Faced by People with Disabilities

II. Importance of Evangelism and Networking

A. Reaching Out to People with Disabilities

B. Importance of Inclusivity

III. Disability Ministries and Organizations

A. Roles and Responsibilities

B. Collaborating with Other Ministries

IV. Strategies for Effective Evangelism and Networking

A. Communication and Awareness

B. Community Building

C. Training and Resources

  • 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

Steve Bundy

Ministry and Disabilities


Evangelism and Networking with Disability Ministries and Organizations

Lesson Transcript

Okay, we're jumping into these lessons here and I'm going to we're basically going to combine lesson 13 and 14 for you. And so as you take time to go through these lessons and think about evangelism and think about outreach into the community, I just want to kind of lay a context for us. This chapter on lesson and Lesson 13 on evangelism addresses these issues as you go through it. Opening our eyes to people without Christ. Open our mouths to speak the Gospel. Show us how to live what we proclaim. Help us show the gospel of word and deed. Open our lives to outreach and discipleship. When you reach out to one person affected by disability, you are also reaching out to the many people involved in his or her life. I want us to think for a moment about the significance of the gospel in everything that we do. As wonderful as practical outreach in ministry is if we believe the Word of God as Christians, we believe that eventually at one point every person will die and they're going to spend eternity either in the presence of God or outside of the presence of God. If we truly believe the word of God. And we have to understand that in everything that we do, our priority, our focus is to lead that person to Jesus Christ, to saving faith and relationship with him. As wonderful as the good deeds are, there must be a point to them. There must be a place we're leading people to. Otherwise we're making folks wonderful, comfortable and relaxed here with the possibility of spending a turn away from Christ. And so we want to make sure that evangelism is very central to what we do. It's very central to what we do here at John and Friends.


Everything we do by way of ministry is to lead someone to Christ. We talk about our wills for the world outreach. We talk about the fact that as wonderful as it is to give the gift of mobility to people, we want to do that. What we really want to do is give them the gift of salvation. And so the wheelchair becomes a tool by which we can share Christ. So we think about reaching out to a person affected by disability. Look at the entire family, the nucleus, an extended family that we have opportunity to bring to Jesus Christ. We must be thinking in terms of evangelism. We really believe that's at the heart of all that we do. That's why we have an entire lesson on evangelism that lays out the practicalities of God man in salvation with practical tools, and how to reach out and evangelize those affected by disability. I want us to put this in the context of the Kingdom of God. What this lesson focuses on is, is two particular sets of scriptures. Luke 418 to 21. Matthew 2818 to 20, and Luke 1421 to 23 on in your in your study guide on page 204 there's a little matrix that lays these scriptures out. In a moment, I'm going to give you an assignment with this. First, I want us to think about the Kingdom of God. All right. I have here on the board just some of my diligent handwriting that you may or may not be able to read. Also talk about the kingdom of God. It was, we think, through the mission of the church. We think through the kingdom of God. We have to understand the timeline that God has set for the world. We think about creation and we think about the old covenant and everything that happened and in general, Genesis through through Malachi.


We think about everything that happened in preparation for a time in history when Jesus Christ would come, when he would die as the sacrificial lamb, and when he would usher in what we call this new age, this new era, this new time of the kingdom of God. And we have to think through this time of the church, the birth of the early church, and this new time that we have, this new era that we have leading up to what we call the consummation of Christ, that is the time, in the fullness of the Kingdom of God, when all will Jesus will reign over all. And I know, Cathy, spend all the time with you in terms of Isaiah and Luke 14 and thinking from an eschatological perspective of the Kingdom of God and Luke 14. So this is the era of. The church that God has given us to advance the Kingdom of God. When Paul says in Second Corinthians 517, he says, You're a new creation. The old is gone and the new has come. That has to do with our salvation experience that we are new in Christ. He's also talking about this new time, this new era that we live in, where we are representatives of God and the Kingdom of God. And what that stands for is the rule and the reign of God. And so we understand kind of this umbrella, if you will, this context of the kingdom of God in this era that we serve in. And so as we think this through, we have to understand then the role of the church in this time as the representatives that are expanding this kingdom, that we are expanding the role and the reign of God in the hearts of man.


And we are having an impact in in this world as we advance the cause of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's in this context, we understand. Then these scriptures of Luke four were Christ talks about the purpose of His coming, how the Spirit of God is upon Him for ministry. We like to call this the mission statement of Jesus, so to speak. If you if you look at it, you get a sense of why Christ has come his purpose, right? Now, the text doesn't say this is the mission statement of Jesus Christ. But we understand in the context of his purpose of this earth. That's what the Scripture is explaining to us. Then we reading Matthew 28, this understanding of the Great Commission. And then, of course, Luke 14, which we've already talked about, then this mandate that we are to expand this kingdom to the least the last, the last those affected by disabilities. And I want us to think through this with fresh eyes this morning, because at the end of the day, whatever we do, however we invest our lives, we have to look at how are we living this out, how are we fleshing this out in our lives and in our churches as it as it comes to expanding of the kingdom of God, as it comes to walking out these verses? And so I'm going to ask us to do this this morning. I'm going to ask each of you and your groups to take each of these three sections of Scripture. I'm going to ask you to read Luke 418 to 21. Your group read Matthew 2818 to 20 and read Luke 1421 to 23. And I want you to spend some time talking about these verses. And as a group, I'm going to ask you to develop a one sentence mission statement as if you were a brand new Christian.


Right. You just gave your life to Christ. You're so excited about the things of Christ. And these are the scriptures that are presented to you. And you're you're going to write a mission statement for your life. Now, it's not going to be exhaustive. It's not gonna be all inclusive. And you may not even all agree on it in your your table. You're going to wordsmith it a little bit, but you're going to get something that you agree is a great mission statement and you're going to start off with something like My life exists to or my purpose in this world is or my lifestyle in this world as a Christian should be some sort of a statement that you feel is reflective of these scriptures, what these scriptures represent in our lives. So I'm going to give you a little time for this. Okay? Is this a yes or no American or a group nature? Well, that's a great question. Is this a personal, personal mission statement or a group mission statement? I'm going to ask you to struggle through this, to write it as if it were a personal mission statement. But you're doing it as a group. Okay. Does that impossible. I don't think is impossible. So in other words, you're going to be able to say, if we were to write this for Joe, who just became a brand new Christian and Joe is developing a personal mission statement, So you're together developing this mission statement as if you're reading these for the first time. You will take them literal and you're gonna apply it into some sort of a mission statement for brand new Christian. In that regards, it's kind of it's personal, but but I'm not asking you to develop your own personal mission statement at this time, so everyone's on the spot.


I'm just asking you to come up with a general one that you can agree with based off the Scriptures. Great question. Thank you. Any other questions? Could you kind of rephrase that? How you. Phrased the idea you gave like three different ways. Uh huh. My. My purpose. My life. My. Yeah. So if you were to say you're writing for a Christian and you're going to write My Life Exists based off these scriptures, what are some what might a mission statement look like? My life exists to serve or to minister or to share or to express. And you come up with what that might look like based off these particular expressions in Scripture. Does that make sense? Yeah. All right. We're going to go around the room and hear some of the statements that have been developed by by your team. Knowing that these are set in stone. Never be able to change it again. This is the direction your life is now set. So let's start. We should start in the front. We pick on you guys. Just start in the back. And our lovely assistant, Ben Rhodes, is going to help us. So if you would read to us your mission statement. Okay? God has given me the Holy Spirit to go out near and far, to love, serve and disciple everyone, and to share with them the love of our father and to tell them about the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Very well done. Very well done. Okay, so the next table. How about over here? So your mission statement is. Oh, thanks a lot, my friends. All right. My mission is to go to all the world, especially the poor, disabled and needy, to love and care for them, to make disciples of them, and to teach them the gospel.


Oh, wow. Well said. Well said. Well done. Yeah, Well done. Do you and disagree with that? I think it's hard to disagree with that. Great. All right, ladies. Spokesperson I am compelled by the power of the Holy Spirit to go to all people who are lost so that they are compelled to participate in the Kingdom of God. Amen. Well said. Very good. All right. Yes. Yes. Okay. Next. Okay. God created me to love him. And all others demonstrated by every thought And action are very good. Very good. All right. Nicely done. Nicely done. All right, Bring us home. Last group. Oh, my goodness. Bring us home, Glenn. Yeah. All right. I have. My life exists to preach the gospel to all. Focusing on the poor and those with disabilities. Knowing that Christ is with me. Oh, very good. Very good. Well done. Well done. All right. He had a pastor that grew, but I can tell you now. Did you guys hear how simple and clear his mission statements were? I mean, not one of you had a complicated mission statement. It really was quite clear, wasn't it? Have you noticed in in education, if you're if you're going to do a ten page report on a subject, it's almost easier than doing a one paragraph report on the subject. Have you noticed that the challenge of boiling down the the essence of that subject, boiling it down into its most simple form to make clear the meaning of that particular subject? And what we just heard today was a boiling down, boiling down of the most simple essence of what it means to live the Christian life. And every one of them, it had to do with this expression of the Kingdom of God in the Gospel, in how we live our lives in demonstration, both in word and deed.


And I want to challenge everyone here. Many, many of us have never written a mission statement, a personal mission statement about why my life exists. And life is filled with all kinds of complexities, isn't it? But we just boil down some very complex things about life in mission into a very simple sentence that says, If the end of the day, this is what it's about. At the end of the day, this is what it is about. This is what my life. Is about. And I want to challenge everyone here as you go through this course, as we think about disability and ministry and missions and what got called us to do, I encourage you to develop for yourselves a mission statement that boils down the essence of what God's called you to do. And I'm I'm I'm not a I'm not a gambling man, but I would bet that whatever you come up with as you get along with God and think through, it's not going to be too far off from the things we heard today. I just bet as we think through the essence of what is it we're called to do, at the end of the day, we are called to be those that that live out the essence of what the Scripture and the scriptures capture. This expression. Of the life of Christ in us in ministry to those locally we serve. Starting with our families, our communities, and wherever else God has called us, which could be summed up a lot in Acts one eight can. Yeah. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria to the end of the earth.


That's a good summary of what a lot of you just said. You will be his witnesses to the power of the Holy Spirit. So we have to keep at the forefront our calling when it comes to being ministers of the gospel. And I don't mean ministers in the in the professional sense. I mean ministers, as were called, to live out the life of Christ. So the rest of this lesson, what it really focuses on as you go through it, is some of that basics of the gospel message with even some clear tips in how to present the gospel. I. Yesterday, Glenn actually came in or a couple of days ago, he was showing me a track he's developed. There's all kinds of resources out there that have been developed or that you can develop, especially as we begin to think through ministry in evangelism to families affected by disability and the various types of disability and where people are at in their faith development. So evangelism to an adult with intellectual disabilities is going to look a little different, perhaps right then evangelism to a person with a physical disability but has no intellectual challenges, right? Evangelism to a child with autism may look a little bit different right then evangelism to a child, just a typically developing child. So we have to be very creative and think through those tools and resources for evangelism. By the way, if anyone wants to look at it, Glenn, you probably got more tracks on hand. It's a great track that Glenn's developed with wonderful pictures leading our children to Christ. It's a very well done. I have a copy that Glenn has given me. I'm sure he has more copies if you're interested in those. There's all kinds of resources available that we have listed.


I know Pat's already talked about in terms of helping lead people to Christ. What I encourage you to do, and we're not going to do it today, is to connect with those who are involved in disability ministry in a similar way. So if you are ministering to adults with intellectual disabilities, I really encourage you to reach out and connect with others and find out what they are doing, okay? Find out the resources that they are utilizing. Find out how they are sharing the gospel with adults with intellectual disabilities. It looks very different. And. And the gospel is worthy of our taking the time. To understand how to best communicate it to those who are the recipients of it. Right. I was I was at one meeting with a service, a church service with adults with intellectual disabilities. And there was a gentleman from a seminary that had been asked to come and present to these adults. And it was a great message. I mean, he poured his heart out. It was wonderful. It was about the fruit of the Holy Spirit. And he brought with him a basket of fruit. Any any, any would hold up a piece of fruit. And he said, What is this? It's a banana. The group would say, Oh, it's great. What is this? It's an apple great. And it grows with a tree and a picture of a tree. It was really well done. What is this? It's a strawberry. This is how strawberries grow. And he went into the work of God in our lives for the Fruit of the Holy Spirit was a wonderful analogy of fruit growing in our lives. And at the end of the the message, he said to the group, Now tell me, what is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life? And one person said, A banana, an apple.


The point being, we have to know where people are at in their faith development as we share the gospel of Jesus Christ. One of the statistics you'll find in there from Jim Pearson is, he says, 89% based off his research. 89% of those with with intellectual disabilities still can have a grasp of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They have an understanding. The question is, can we take the time? Do we take the time to help them come to an understanding of the gospel in their lives? Okay, so the rest of that lesson then, as you work through it, one paper in there in particular you will really enjoy from John Erickson today is on the Kingdom of God. It's a fabulous paper. I want to read a little bit from that before we switch over to the next lesson. It's called The Kingdom Matters in Disability. And I think it's so good. I want to read a little bit and it's one of the papers that you will read in your in your lessons. And she's talking about the church in the kingdom of God. She says, unlike the church, the kingdom is not a group of people. We talked about the church itself as a group of people. The Kingdom of God is the rule and reign. It is a reign of the rule of Jesus, our Lord. When Christ came to Earth, He set up his kingdom. Yes, He set it up in the hearts of those who would believe in him. But it is much more than that. When Christ set up his kingdom, he did it in a global sense as well. The secret of the presence of the kingdom lies in Jesus's victory over Satan, in his unlimited, miraculous power, his unrestricted authority to preach the Gospel in his pronouncements of the blessedness and the bestowal of salvation upon his people.


Quoting there, Dr. Hermann Ritter, boss. And so Kingdom Work is pushing out into the world the effects of the gospel. I love that. Do you hear that pushing out into the world? The effects of the Gospel, reclaiming Earth as rightfully the Lord's reclaiming this Earth for the God that we serve? Keenum work is mainly a battle against our adversary, the Devil who, when the fall occurred in the garden, committed high treason against the rightful King by usurping God's authority and setting up his own rival Keenum here on Earth. He thinks this Earth is his, but he's wrong. He's only the evil tenant in. His hostility is always increasing. When Christ came to set up his kingdom on Earth, it meant Satan's days were numbered. This unlawful usurp only has a short time before he's cast into the lake of fire. And in this interim, between the first advent, when Jesus Christ set up his kingdom and his second coming when it will be completed, The consummation we spoke of. We live in tension. We've been freed from the power of sin, but not its presence. The kingdom has come, but it's yet to be fulfilled. It's a struggle, a tension, a war, and quite a battle. Kingdom work is planting firmly in the soil of the world. Banners of justice, peace, righteousness, joy, truth, beauty and every other kingdom characteristic. This makes the church a base camp for the kingdom. A training camp where Christians are equipped to go out into the war. Make Christ real and reclaim territory under the banner of Christ. No area of society should go unchallenged for the Lordship of Christ. Whether the arts, media, education, medicine, business or politics, the Kingdom of God is to advance through the Church of Jesus Christ.


We are to be those who transform society and culture, not the other way around. Friends. And so as we think through what it is to have that mission going forward, and we are a part of it. Let's keep in mind that advancing the kingdom is very much about the love of Jesus Christ. Sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and expanding the role and reign of God into all areas, including those areas where people with disabilities live, women and men. And we know and understand that during the Eternal Kingdom, that all that won't be necessary. Hallelujah. Preaching hallelujah. He will make all things right. Amen. Amen. We're going to shift gears for a moment and we're going to run into lesson 14. And I think I think you've been right there. And so let's take that. Put our thinking caps on now before we we'll take a break soon. But let's put our thinking caps on. We're expanding the queen and we want the church to push out the effects of the gospel. Right. Well, how do we do that as the church? On a very practical sense. So this lesson then is going to look at as you work through this lesson, it's going to talk about understanding the need for strategic partnerships with a variety of organizations to better serve the disability community. Understand the obstacles to networking with organizations. Locate and exchange ideas with government and private agencies. But making anyone nervous yet helping your church understand the importance of partnerships develop a broader networking strategy game better together through a clearly stated purpose in partnership and a broad networking strategy with the groups that best fit the calling of your ministry, you will have the potential for greater impact than would otherwise be possible.


We're going to talk about what it means. Look at some examples of partnerships. For some, it will be a little bit uncomfortable because the church traditionally has not always bridge the gap that exists between many organizations in the church itself and that not every church is comfortable with that. Right. We'll talk a little bit about that. Understand the need for strategic partnerships with a variety of organizations to better serve the disability community. We're more effective when we're all connected. Children spend significantly more time with parents, teachers and others outside the church on a regular basis. So we have to think through the church going where the people are right versus expecting the people to always come to the church for outreach and evangelism to be effective intentional partnerships. While we need to be sensitive regarding a family's privacy, parents are primary are the primary connecting point to children and teens. We have to be very intentional about how we build relationships with parents as it pertains to their children. So we have to think as a church very strategically, what are the kinds of outreaches and programs that are going to minister not just to children, but to their parents as well? We'll look at some examples of that. Practical partnerships. Through unified partnerships with other disability care providers, we were able to offer more specific care to those we serve in the disability ministries, more relational. When partnerships are developed, Christ centered ministry is built on relationships. So these are some principles of partnerships that come into play when we think about the church reaching out to the community. Bill Vinter has a fantastic paper. In this lesson I encourage you to read, he talks about strategic partnerships and the challenges of those partnerships that exist as well as I think it's on the PowerPoint here.


Some of these obstacles, we'll look at that, but also the fact that when we are looking to partner with groups and social services and so forth, he brings out the fact that many professionals are Christians who stir about a sense of calling just because they're not in the church, just because they're in the marketplace does not mean they don't have a calling to be there. And we've got to understand that is the church. All right. We have to understand we're the sacred in the secular middle. Where the kingdom is advancing or God is strategically placing a calling on the lives of believers to live out their Christian life and have an influence in a secular setting. Many, many Christians serve in these organizations. Me professionals have a spiritual background. Friendly toward churches and Christian organizations willing to help their clients. And some professionals may not understand the efforts of Christians serving in the disability ministry. So we have to understand that as well. So let's break this down a little bit. Okay. And I want to talk about a couple of concepts here. When it comes to the church pushing out the effects of the gospel. So in my incredible artistic abilities, I am drawing here from a friendly church. Right. This is a disability friendly church, by the way. If you're wanting to know what a disability friendly church looks like. Here it is. Now, you know, this church has an interest in pushing out the effects of the gospel, of expanding the kingdom and of ministry to those with disabilities in their areas. Okay. And so we have to think through that from a very practical sense. Do we need to ask our or weed whacker friend to maybe hit this another day, something that bad is going to address that, or are we okay? We're probably I mean, for the are you good up there? Okay.


Very well. All right. We'll talk about how share the gospel with our weed whacker friend. So but the church then wants to reach out. This is what it's really Church wants to reach out to those affected by disabilities in the community. What are some examples? Let's start with some examples of areas. And maybe your church is doing this that can reach out, begin to build some strategic partnerships with those in the area for ministry purposes. But first is ask the question, is every church comfortable with this? No. Okay. So we have to think through for from the perspective of the state in the church, separation of state and church. Okay. My experience is it's often the church that's more uncomfortable than the state in these regards. Right. And I would give you an example. One of the ways that our church, when I was involved in disability ministry, one of the ways that we reached out was we worked with what we call in California the regional center. Okay. The regional center is kind of the social services hub for people affected by disabilities to get social services in California. That and the educational system, of course. So. When I was involved, the disability ministry at my church, we approached the regional center and going through some training at one time and came to find out that they really needed a space to train people in advocacy. They have specific workshops where they bring staff and they bring families together to to go through training on how to properly understand the system and advocate for your child and advocate for clients. Right? And so we worked out an agreement with them. They were struggling for space. Our church building had lots of space. They wanted to have a training once every Tuesday for six weeks.


Our church set empty on Tuesdays every week, right? And so we worked out a partnership. I tell you what, if I will open up the doors, I'll have the lights on. Maybe some coffee and some cookies. Would you like to do your training in our church? Oh, yeah, That would be great. We would love that opportunity. And would you be comfortable if I just shared a little bit about the programs we had in our church? Nothing. Don't push one evangelize at that particular setting. I won't share anything you're uncomfortable with because you're state. You're bringing people from all kinds of faiths. Would you be comfortable if I just provided information and spoke with people? You know what? They're very comfortable with that. And so here we are, a disability friendly church. And here's a proposal we will bring to your church, our staff and new families in the area who are affected by disability. For an exchange for a room and you're able to share with them the ministry programs. You have your church for them. You think that's a good deal for me? You better believe that's a good deal for me. I jumped on that as quick as I could. And every week there I was in the back. Has all these families gathered, all these staff gathered, and at the end of it, they would think me, they would think our church. I got to just I had a table displayed about her information's, able to meet new families, talk to them, relate to them, etc.. There's another church down the road. And a family came to our church affected by disability. From that church. And I asked them and the intake and getting to know them, Why did you come? What's you been at this church? You know what their answer was? You know, we went to the leadership of our church.


And we asked them if we could host training. By the regional center and the leadership of our church. You know, that's a secular organization. They got no business being on our property, doing it, doing a training. All right. Now, is that judging the leadership of the church? No, not judging the leadership of the church. That's a position they held and that's a position needs to be respected. But what it does inform me is that the leadership of that church didn't recognize. That if you want to go where the people are, then you're going to need to in some way relate to these particular organizations. What Jesus teaches us through his ministry is he went where the people were. He was not afraid to go with the people where he was not afraid to go to tax collectors. He was not afraid to go into the house of the sinners. He was not afraid to allow prostitutes to associate with them because they were coming to the kingdom, because he knew where the people were. Where do you find people affected by disabilities? They're going where their needs are met. They're going to be at the social services. They're going to be in the educational areas because that's where they're going to be in the hospitals and the medical. That's where their needs are getting met. Unfortunately, you will often find them here. Why would they? Historically, their needs have not been met here, and that's what we've been talking about this week. We want to change that. And so that family recognized that the leadership was not sensitive to where, as they tried to explain to the leadership, you don't understand. This is our lifeline for our family. This is we could really use this to draw people in, know that that's our policy and we need to respect that.


That's why I sit at the front to talk about these partnerships. That gets a little uncomfortable for some churches, but I have found the comfort level. The level of discomfort is typically on the side of the church, not the state. We're in a time in an age where the states are looking more and more and more to faith based based organizations for help. They're getting overwhelmed. Cindy and I were talking yesterday. There's a flood coming. I mean, you think it's challenging now? There is a flood coming for our country by way of of issues related to health care and social services of budget cuts. And while that's a difficult thing for people affected, I know I'm a family that's already been affected by this in California. So while that's a difficult, challenging thing, it's this huge opportunity for the church. It's giving us this huge platform by which we can rise up and say, listen, we can partner with you guys. We understand you're not going to have finances to rent out rooms and and to have coffee and cookies and so forth. We understand that you're looking for places to host, maybe afterschool programs or to host sports and recreation programs, or simply to have small sibling workshops or whatever it might be. Can we work with you in that regards? Yes, ma'am. That is the first thing we cut. Greatest need. You can go to your daily life the size of the budget in the areas that you live. And I did that and I did that. Like that was like those kinds of. They're gone. Rest. But can a church help with respite? Absolutely. We just put out a respite manual, by the way, here, John, in France, and there's other ministries and other programs to do a great job of helping a church do respite.


The church can engage families affected by disability in this regard. What are other ways churches can engage? Yes, offering one teacher appreciation. Lunch. Offering to host a lunch at a school for special education speakers. At the other end, you can take them. I like that appreciation luncheon. You know what? That's the first I've ever heard of that. I've heard just about every kind of possible outreach. That's a great idea. An appreciation luncheon. Why not go up? That's a great idea. Find those professionals in the education system. I love this idea of having an appreciation lunch for them. Thank you for serving our kids through physical therapy. Thank you for showing our kids through occupational therapy, through speech. We recognize that you could be out in the private sector making more money. We got it. And you are here in our school system, serving our children. You think that's going to elevate the status of your church in that community? Oh, you better believe it's going to elevate the status of your church in that community. Yes. Grace Club at Tuesday nights at our church. And a lot of the people that come to that original set are clients that live like group homes. And the regional center said to us, Well, you don't have enough supervision for our kids. So we said, Fine. We bring your workers from the home to supervise your clients, if that's what you want. And so they we sat in the back of the room where we're ready to go and let them go to Praise God. Praise God. You're ministering to the staff that we're working with, with that population. Fantastic. Fantastic. What are some other ideals? Creative ideas. And I'll share some as well. As we go along.


Non-medical transportation. Transportation. Fantastic. Some people out there need a ride. What a ministry, What an outreach. And you have opportunity during transportation to share an awful lot, don't you? Testimony and so forth, man. What are some other ideas? Yes, building relationships with local hospitals, acute care hospitals, assisted living facilities with their discharge plans. One of the big challenges is our discharge planetarium. Hospital revenue has been the poor people have no insurance or medication, so they are not eligible for equipment or rent building. Churches are also in the times, the place where these social workers or district planners look for. But if that person is not a member of a church, Gus. So they're kind of stuff I think great to have relationships between churches and the discharge planners of these facilities to say, Hey, if you're in a bind or equipment or education or something, let us know. We'll come and help. That is a great idea. Building that personal bridge that is that is key. That is huge, because that relationship means that they will know you are a go to organization for them as a resource. Right. And there comes a point and this is not a promise for every situation, but there often comes a point in these these situations where they really don't care. These secular organizations don't care if you have a cross up here or crescent oak for their question or solve their problem. If you can provide a resource to the to these clients, they are willing to help channel them towards that resource. And often we're the ones that say, you know, we're Christian, we really can't, you know, separation that that wall though it's there is something that can be hurdled very easy if we are willing to allow them to do that.


Yes. Follow. Follow. There are several churches I know in our area, Nashville or a handful of churches who have already established an equipment program and they have a loan closet and that sort of thing. They recycle. So it's not cost is really not costly. Church is not. They have to find equipment. They've got it from their members who have turned it in. Wow. So it's all doable. So on the other hand, yes. Well, Billingham has a faith community, various organization where each church has a parish nurse or a health minister who joins this group. And then they share training and information so that they can help people getting out of nursing homes and and doing care plans and, you know, help each other serve their church. Fantastic organ. Is it? It's it's it's called Faith Community Nurse Program. Fantastic. Very similar then. Yeah. Making these connections, these bridges, it's more in hands on getting and helping the people. Fantastic. Yes, ma'am. Connecting. And we find spinning music around can actually come all the way down through they make. Can you build your house as a single service project? We have a huge version of Boy Scout here, but we've done a lot of amazing things. Community on crisis pregnancy centers and stuff like that. So that's another good organization. Fantastic. What a great, great resource. Yes, I think it can be helpful for particularly volunteers who are maybe unsure or. Just to have like four opportunities to have a good church together at your church that goes to special. Celebrating. Oh, that's great. That's a great idea. Yeah. Volunteers get it. You get the parents attention. You're nurturing my kid. Oh. Oh, that's a great idea. Speaking of Special Olympics, I want to throw out some other examples and then talk about two principles.


I just want to make sure we think through here. Maybe three principles. Speaking of Special Olympics, when one of the strategies we utilized at my time when I was serving in disability ministry at the local church, was partnering with the Special Olympics. Right. They love it. They love it. They love partnering with groups. And again, it wasn't a struggle getting them to partner with us at all. And you know what it did for us? It helped us. The local church that really had no reputation in this regards at the time. It helped us build our reputation, our credibility with the local community by partnering with an established, highly respected, recognized organization. Right. And so we were able to partner in the Special Olympics. We're able to put our logo on the same flier as their logo for a basketball program and a flier that went all throughout the school district. You think that elevates the status of the church in the community when families are thinking about churches engaging the disability community or this church as partner of Special Olympics? How cool that gives immediate favor. Paul told Titus. Make the Gospel attractive. Make the gospel attractive, appealing to people. So they would ask the question, Why are you doing this? What? Why are you doing this? We're doing it in the name of Jesus. Yes, sir. Some civic organizations that could be partnered with. Absolutely. Like the Lions and their bond men. Exactly. There are civic organizations and a lot of coalitions and partnerships like local committees or disability groups, and say, you know what? I want to give you another example. Civic organizations come to find out. And the city I was in that they have a city organized a civic organization that meets once a month and from all the different disability related organizations to talk about city planning events to help promote each other's causes.


And when I showed up, guess who was not at the table? No one from the faith community was at the table. It was all social, rec, business, all the important stuff that makes up life. But no one representing the spiritual life. Right. And so it gave a huge opportunity to come in and be the voice of the church and participate in all that was happening. And to talk about our own events and to remind them about people or spiritual beings and to raise up these issues and over time. This respect began to develop and and and it wasn't the, you know, the weird religious guy anymore over there. It was now. What do you think, Steve? Because over time, we were able to build our credibility in our rapport with this group, and they would begin to promote our events throughout their organizations. Begin to build that reputation. Same thing with the school district. All right. Come to find out. You know, by law, schools have to offer once a month a special meeting for parents. Many people don't know that. It's like a special needs PTA right to discuss how things are going and so forth. I would go to that as both a parent, a representative of my church and one and I showed up in the school. In the school, it was raining and the door was locked and the special ed director was standing there with me and she was going, Oh, this happens all the time. I said, Really? Yeah, we got it. Finally, someone showed up with the key. We got in. It was cold. There's no snacks, nothing to drink. And I said to the director, I said, You know, if I could provide a warm room, you know, where this is going, if I could provide some coffee and some cookies, even though we're a church, would you be comfortable hosting the the meetings once a month at our church? She said, "You would do that?


You would do that?" So my commitment to you is I will be there. The lights would be on, coffee and cookies. And so every Tuesday night, one Tuesday night a month about 50 to 80 parents would show up to our church to meet and have these these these these meetings. And all I asked for was the opportunity to stand up, say who I was. They would think the church and just talk for a moment about the programs we offer with materials in the back. So once again, here we've got the school and I'm going. I have an opportunity to bring 50 to 80 families, parents to my church once a month. You kidding? You think I'm going to pass that up? Of course I'm going to take the opportunity of that. And what eventually happened is that relationship grew to a point where I had a personal relationship with the superintendent of the school district. So as credibility grew over time, we'd have events and opportunities. Guess who would willingly approve our fliers to go out to all the special needs classrooms? The superintendent, because he begin to trust what we were doing in the community. And I'll give a quick example that them go over the principals. We participated in the Autism Speaks Walk, Right. One of the largest ones in the country happens in Pasadena, California. Over 100 vendors and exhibitors were were in this event. And there was only one religious organization that was approved. To be in that event. Who was that? It was our local church, it was our ministry. We were the only religious organization approved out of 100 vendors to be there, and it was discussed. I come to find out it was discussed behind the scenes by the committee and someone spoke up on our behalf.


When when, when we were first going to be rejected because of religious. And they said, wait a minute, wait a minute, this they need to be there. This group is serious. These guys have a big impact in the community and they need to be there. They deserve to be represented. So we were allowed to to be a part of that with 10,000 or whatever participate in that particular walk. So God is able to elevate. The status and the reputation. Of the local church in such a way that people want to begin to participate in what you're doing and learn more about what you're doing there and in whose name you're doing it. One of the I'll never forget the statement from a Jewish mom whose son participated in the basketball program that we did with Special Olympics. And she made this comment to me. She said, you know. I'm not sure that Jesus was the son of God. Okay. That's not what my faith teaches me. But I'll tell you this. If he were, this is what he'd be doing. And that spoke so loud and clear to me. And we were able to over time, this mom went from the basketball program to our support group. Okay. And I'm we'll talk for just a moment about the principles. The time we have left. Number one, you need to let your yes be yes in your no be no. Nothing burns a relationship quicker than you not being true to this. If you say yes, I will be there. The lights will be on. They had better not show up with the doors locked and you forgotten. If you say yes, you will provide something. You need to provide it. If you say coffee, cookies, it needs to be there.


If you say no to certain thing, then you need to make sure that they understand why you're saying no. You need to be very clear about what you will come through with and what you will not come through with. The other thing you need to be very clear about is this is evangelism. Right. In every partnership and this is and there were many other partnerships I'd love to talk about, we were able to do with community to draw people to our church in every and every relationship. This was always very, very clear that this is who we are. This is who we. This is a church and this is who we are. But my yes will be. Yes, am I know will be know there will be some outreaches that will be very Christ centered. And we're not going to apologize for that. The parent support group. Guess what? Very Christ centered. If you come to our parent support group, you're going to hear about Jesus. We're going to be praying. Okay. Because you you there's no parent support without him. You can go to the schools and go to social services and have all kinds of support groups and never get to this. At our church. It's going to be about Jesus. But our our our our civic organization or our sports and Special Olympics. That we did. We were very clear. Our end goal is relationships for evangelism. However, our commitment is this When we show up to play basketball, it will all be basketball. We're not going to lock the doors. Men won't be sliding down on ropes. We're going to stop the game and say, Ladies and gentlemen, can I have your attention? I'd like to share how I came to know Jesus Christ, why you need him to.


Although that would be fine and dandy if that's the way you want to do it. You just better make sure that they know that. So our intention is to have a wonderful recreational outreach for families, to have a place to come and socialize. Our end goal is evangelism through relationship building. But we made sure with the Special Olympics and those we partnered with that we were not going to proselytize at that event. And we need to be faithful to that. Some churches will not be comfortable with that and you need to respect where your church is at. For some churches, they're not going to have a sports program unless it has a very explicit evangelism component to it, such as stopping and having a message. And that's okay. That's the decision of that church needs to be respected about how they do that. So those are the kind of conversations you need to have with your leadership. So it's very clear about what this event is. The purpose of the event and the outcome, the intended outcome of the event. So I will say this as we begin to in my experience, as we begin to move forward with these kinds of relationships, several things begin to happen where even city officials would respect who we were as an organization. There was a situation in the community where a group home was opening up. In our area in about 200 residents came out with the not in my backyard. Right. And I got two phone calls. One was from the CEO of the local regional center. And she said, Pastor Steve, I know of your reputation in the community. I know of your church's reputation. And and we have a situation and we're asking if you would intervene and help mitigate in this situation, help mitigate what's happening and help advocate the situation, because we know your church is so highly respected in that area.


And we had a wonderful conversation about that. I got a second phone call is from a local city council member, and he said, Steve, I'm the council member for this area and we have this situation. I said, Yes, I'm aware of it. He said, I know of the reputation your church has for disability ministry and disability outreach. I respect it greatly. Would your church help us in this situation? And I say all that to say this. We are to lift up the name of Christ. We are to bring glory to God. We are to be a representative in such a way that we are not tarnishing the name of Christ, but we are lifting it up and becoming those who are known to be peacemakers in this world, those who are known, especially in the area, disability services, disability community, those who have something to say and a way to be involved. And so it is through building a reputation, letting our subs or nobody know, being very clear about how we will evangelize, how explicit we will be at certain events and how which events will be relationship building for future ministry. And so out of that, God is able to bring the church into a place that I really believe He's called the church according to acts, to be that center of community, to be that go to where people have a great deal of respect because of the outreach, the ministry happening in the local body of Christ. And so and so networking and partnering with these organizations based upon the comfort level of your church gives way to great opportunities to create what I call side doors into the church, create ways for people to come into contact with those who believe and to eventually lead them to a relationship with Jesus Christ.