Why Would They Want to Come to Church?
My church did a teaching series on the practices of the church described in Acts 2:42-47 in which “awe came upon every soul,” when the church was viewed favorably by the culture within which it was based and the community of believers was growing daily. We were encouraged to read The Tangible Kingdom by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay throughout the teaching series. The subtitles of the book are Creating Incarnational Community and The Posture and Practices of Ancient Church Now. You may be hearing more about this book later…
Our staff and volunteers at Key Ministry do what we do because each of us has come to highly value our personal experiences as part of a local church…the sense of community we experienced, the ability to serve in a meaningful capacity, coming to know more about and grow closer to God through our relationship with Jesus. But what if most families we encounter with disabilities can’t identify with the experience of church that we as leaders hold in common?
What would draw a family to church for whom church wasn’t part of their upbringing… especially when they have to overcome the complications of attending church with a child with a disability? What if being part of church in our postmodern culture isn’t very important to the majority of families we encounter? I see more and more families coming through our office now compared to fifteen or twenty years ago who report that their child’s spiritual development is of little or no concern and attending church is of little interest.
I’ve been thinking about this issue in the context of our very preliminary experience of Front Door (see below) while considering what our crew at Key Ministry can do to help churches connect with parents who don’t have a positive…or any experience of church…and what we might learn from the First Century model of “being the church” as opposed to “going to church.”
Here’s my description of our Front Door guests to this point…
- People who had positive experiences of church in the past, but have been cut off from church because of the impact of a child or teen with disability.
- People with a God-inspired desire to share the love of Christ with those around them who lack the opportunity to do so as part of their church, or desire to expand the impact of the ministry they currently have through their local church.
I’ve been wrestling with the realization that very few families are making their way to Front Door without church having been very important to at least one parent at some point in their lives. I have some thoughts based upon our experience as a ministry organization and Biblical accounts of the First Century church of how churches might go about connecting with families in the culture with little experience or perceived need for church…
- We can take initiative in providing services and resources that help to meet immediate needs of kids with disabilities and their families.
- We can help increase the frequency with which the people of the church experience meaningful interaction with families impacted by disability.
- We can offer them experiences of authentic community with Christians who seek to live out their faith on a daily basis.
- We can provide them with the opportunity to use their gifts in the service of a mission…giving people a little taste of Heaven here on Earth.
What do you think? How can churches spark interest among families impacted by disability in a postmodern culture?
Dr. Steve Grcevich is a physician specializing in child and adolescent psychiatry who serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry. He blogs at church4everychild.org and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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