‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40, NIV)
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. (Revelation 3:20, NIV)
If you want to have your eyes opened wide, spend an hour or two looking at every church in 2 different cities like I did last night. I was trying to help a friend-of-a-friend find a church home that would welcome her severely disabled grandson. It was an exasperating endeavor.
Church websites reveal a great deal about their culture. As I combed through the online directory of churches in these two moderately-sized cities, I would click on those who had their websites readily listed. Some looked like they had been designed back in 1998. Others were no longer in service. Still others gave great evidence of an aging congregation.
Those who did have an adequate or outstanding website were usually consistent in listing which ministries they had available at their church. Of course, all had children’s ministries, women’s groups, and men’s fellowships listed. Most larger churches offered small groups. Some offered caring, grief, and support ministries. And there were even some that had unusual ministries like a quilting ministry, a military support ministry, and even a television ministry. Yet, those same churches did not offer even one hint that they had a thing to offer those with a special needs individual in their family.
I felt my heart sink as I would think, Surely this church has a special needs ministry, only to discover that my search would find no help. Dozens and dozens of churches I searched. Only 1 had a special needs ministry, vaguely hinted at, which I had to dig for on their website. That church was miles and miles from the two desired cities. If this family did make the effort to connect to that 1 church, the drive may ultimately make the weekly journey to wearying.
How sad. When we close the door to the disabled, we close the door to Jesus, who is begging to be welcomed in. How painfully ironic that He’s knocking at the door of His own church pleading to be let in. We must do better.
While there are many more of us out there than ever before, I want to encourage us all to a new level of boldness. We offer programs or instructions on inclusion or curricula. Yet, all of that requires churches to come to us. We need to get more assertive about taking the message to the churches that until all are welcome, Christ is shut out, knocking at the door, begging to be let in. Whether it be pressing hard to get in front of church leadership, into seminaries or Bible colleges, or knocking on each and every door as an ambassador of Jesus, we need to step up our game. Until the majority of churches are found to be inclusive or have programming, we cannot rest. I, for one, look forward to the day where a person is not spending hours searching for an inclusive church home, but rather agonizing for hours over which inclusive church to make their own.
I welcome your ideas on how we can improve…