“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” ~Matthew 10:42, NIV~ (Emphasis mine)
Yesterday, I ran across an insightful post from our friends at Bethesda Institute entitled “Faith Community Involvement: What Are The Numbers?”. If you didn’t have the opportunity to read it, you should. The article examined the hard data that is available on church attendance by those with disabilities. The author makes the compelling case that we have been using erroneous numbers for years to urge action in the area of special needs ministry. I must confess, I have used that figure for years, having originally been given the numbers from the renowned organization the post cites.
However, after reading this piece, my mind wandered, questioning, “Why do those of us serving in Christian adaptive ministry feel we need huge figures to justify the work we do? Didn’t Jesus tell us that if we served even one, it is worthy work?” I have long been an admirer of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. While she knew the gravity and size of the problems she was helping people with, she never made that her main focus. With Christian love and zeal, she perfected the art of loving just one to Jesus. She wrote and spoke of treating each human being as she would treat Christ. We are called to do no less.
The article by Bethesda becomes truly convicting to every Christian in the end, pondering if the problems of church attendance for those with special needs just may be because we are not inviting them as individual friends. Anecdotally, I can share that I have seen many more reasons for lack of church involvement of those who have a diff-abled individual in the family. I would be a very wealthy woman if I had a dollar for every parent I have spoken with who was asked to leave a church because their child on the autism spectrum was “too loud” or “disruptive” in a liturgical service. Nevertheless, I think this brings us to the bigger issue of why we are focusing on these statistics in the first place. Yes, it does help us get grant funding. But aside from that piece of the puzzle, shouldn’t we all just be loving one person to Jesus at a time as He commanded us?
Those are my thoughts. I would love to hear yours!