“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Deja Vu all over again

Well it happened again. I was visiting a dear friend of mine, Ed, and went with he and his great family to his church. The worship service was amazing and I was touched by the pastor's (a gal!) revealing sermon on forgiveness, healing and moving forward with God. She was so insightfut, so right on, and it caused me to really reflect on who I am. I will be chewing on her message fro some time to come.

Anyway, afterwards we went to the welcome area where I met several others in leadership. At one point, I related to another gal in leadership about my interest, my passion for people with disabilities to be embraced by the church. Earlier, in a Sunday school session, her husband, another pastor, spoke of how ministry shouldn't be like a buffet where we pick and choose what we will and won't do, or who we will or won't serve. Which of God's requirements we will or won't respond to. I related that I would be quoting him (but based upon his response, I won't). I told him about the church and people with disability relative to his statement about the buffet. He appeared to become very uncomfortable when I said THE church, not necessarily HIS church, was disobedient in regards to those with disabilities. After sitting through a training earlier where he spoke of first impressions at church and putting on the positive face to the public even if you don't feel like it, he suddenly expressed a great interest in getting out of the conversation. He was particularly interested in getting home so he could watch football on TV. So in other words, "Don't bother me with the needs of desperate ignored people in my community, I have a football game to watch." Deja vu. So the ignorance perpetuates.

Prior to him joining the conversation, his wife had been literally pummeling me with questions. It was like when I mentioned disability I turned a switch on for her...
Who are these people?
Where are these people?
How did you find these people?
How can we find these people?
What does your church do to help them?
What kind of programs do you have?
I could barely get a response out before she was asking another question. Her interest was so exciting and so encouraging. But in a moment, we moved from her sincere interest in disability to his, the pastor's, trumping and surpassing interest in football.

I think it was an old Phil Keaggy song that said,
Seems as if we've lost the nerves for feeling
and no one's in the mood to want to know
I've got news for you this is not a game
I've got news for you are you listening?
I've got news for you we are all the same
and when that is understood we can start to live again
Will this particular church ever get it, relative to persons with disability? I sure hope so. It is a fantastic church with its finger on the pulse of culture, it seems. The messages I heard from the leadership both touched me and moved me. My deepest prayers are with it for its success and growth. I would definately be going there myself if I lived in the area. No doubt!

But it will NEVER acheive all that God intends for it if it is more interested in football, or music or presentation or whatever else than it is in seeing ALL Gods people. ALL.

I truly do love what God is doing among young people in churches through the use of music and technology which are so much a part of what those in their teens through 30's are about. But without a deeper change, they are making the exact same mistakes that the churches they are replacing made. It is generational ignorance. They see themselves as hip. They think they are novel and up to date. They are not.
They are the exact same thing all over again.

But how about something truly different. How about including all of God's people. It seems we and particularly many in church leadership are oblivious to and don't want to know about disability. Especially if the Eagles are playing on TV.



Anonymous said...

Reading this entry about a church with a leader more involved with football rather than issues’ dealing with the church and disabled involvement reminds me of many churches today. I feel that there are a lot of hypocritical people today, which act as if they want to help people, but their interest is just a front. However, many compassionate people care and want to help others. I know that helping the disabled people can be seen as an uncomfortable area for many, but that should not stop people from doing the right thing. The church is where the disabled people should feel comfortable and welcomed. Involvement with the disabled in the church should be seen as a blessing, rather than a challenging pain. Disabled people carry so much love and joy through their disabilities, and could and should be seen as examples to many.
The leaders in churches today are following the paths of the previous leaders. I feel that the leader more involved in football can be viewed as a convenient leader. I am sure that when the football game was not coming on soon, he would be more than happy to discuss many ideas dealing with the involvement of the disabled. This brings up the question, how committed are the leaders of today? Many are trying to turn things around and make changes involved in the church. I know that in my church we are trying to start workshops and Bible studies for the disabled and their families to come to together. Our church structure is the same as the reformed structure from the past; however, we are trying to implement areas that should be the focus in today’s lifestyles.
I know that I am still young and do not have much of a voice in my church leadership but I know that when asking the questions regarding part 2 of this assignment it caught the leaders off guard. The projects they started dealing with the disabled were pushed to the side when issues that are more ‘important’ were raised, but when showing an interest and telling them I was writing a report it seemed to show some interest in the making. All it takes is a little effort. When issues are brought up many times to people change will happen. I pray that we can all be seen as equals and that the churches and their leaders will be real with others and have a heart for outreach.

Anonymous said...

This attitude is something that is common to lots of people who say they are religious. While I agree with the pastor that people often treat religion as a buffet that they get to pick and choose from, I find it ironic that he too is visiting that buffet. I think that we have come into a time period in which people adapt their religion to suit their lives rather than adapt their lives to follow the guidelines of their religion. There is no exception to this even when religious people are dealing with people in need - people with disabilities. They may be uncomfortable with people with disabilities - which can be understandable if a person has had limited access to people with disabilities, however, they allow their discomfort to control them. I wonder how much of the absence of people with disabilities has to do with the notion that as long as they are not actively acting prejudice then they must be okay. Meaning...maybe people with disabilities are not welcomed in the church or sought after by the church because then the church and its members would have to address them. In addressing them, some of their discomfort and prejudices might show themselves and as a result they might be aware (and other people might be aware) of their lack of commitment to God and the church and love for everyone. However, if people with disabilities are not in attendance then they do not have to address this issue and they can continue without reflecting what their attitudes towards people with disabilities might mean.