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

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Ministry shapes the church

How will our involvement in ministry shape the church? It definitely shapes us as individuals. Each of us knows people who are are involved in foreign missions in a variety of ways and that shapes everything down to their dress reflecting their nation of interest. People who are involved with poor and homeless individuals will also take on a particular persona. Some churches who have made that segment of society a priority also change in the way they appear. I know of a church in Riverside California that is very intentional in serving persons who are homeless. They have a daily free lunch program. That in itself shapes the types of people who will be in the neighborhood every day at noon. Other examples might be provided. But you can look at a church and to some degree see who they are in terms of their priorities for ministry. Even the location, whether centrally located or remote communicates something to the community. In our time of ACCESS (in California at least where someone with a disability can call to receive a ride to where ever they want to go) location is perhaps less critical, but there are still those who will struggle to access even slightly more remote places. This is also true because of how people will refuse to pick up others and take them to church.

Clearly there are some communities who are more "impacted" (I actually hate that word because it implies something being forced upon someone rather than them choosing to do something) because of their location. But there are people with some characteristics who are present in every community, like those with disabilities. They are also people who when present will cause the church and its members to develop in a certain way. Some pastors will say that their church is not "impacted" by people with disabilities. It is almost as if they say that with relief as if they were "impacted" they would have to change to become something different that reflects how that ministry will shape them. But if a church leader tells me that they are not "impacted" by disability that doesn't tell me that their are no people with that characteristic in the community. It tells me that there is not any interest in that church in serving people with that characteristic in that community. It tells me that there is not any interest in changing what that will ministry will shape you into if you served people with that characteristic. Do you catch how sad that is? It is literally the desire to skirt the responsibility for first of all loving a whole class of people who may be hurting because of their life experience. And second being unwilling to embrace the change that that form of ministry will bring.

AND...people with the characteristic "disability" are everywhere. So we are too often unwilling to change to become a ministry shaped church that reaches out to the nearly 20% of the population who have a disability and the much higher group that are affected by disability. Can you see how the changes forged in our churches by ministry to persons with disabilities would facilitate ministry orientated churches touching on a major concern of a large portion of the population, anywhere in the world? There is significant potential for a revival within the church if we would just embrace the changes that would come from being "impacted" by those in need of inclusive support. I believe that form of ministry would shape the church toward reflecting God's idea of what it should be.


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