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

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"Natural like home"

In our Light and Power Company group, we often talk about how we feel more like a family than like a class or a group that meets at church. People are accepted as they are.  Sure we make demands on each other. But the overriding theme is acceptance, overlooking differences like social skill deficits, thinking the best of others, trying to be affirming, praying for each other, caring for one another and so forth. These are the kinds of attributes we find in families that are functioning well.  We rejoice with the successes of our family members, we hurt with them when they hurt. It is like we recognize that we are in this life together, as a family. In families, you don't necessarily choose each other, but you love one another nontheless. When you enter a group like our Light and Power group, you become a member of a family of people who chose the group initially, but then just accept others as the family grows. It is kind of like the idea of America being a melting pot (although we seem to be struggling with that at the moment as many groups don't want to relinquish their rights to be a part of the American family, they want to change the American family to be like them), where you come in as whomever you are and then become a part of the family, whatever personal characteristics you bring.

On our recent trip to Australia, we discussed this idea with Lindsey Gale, a groundbreaker in helping churches to be open to persons with disabilities. She made the comment in one presentation that the experience of being in a church should be, "natural like home." Church should be an extension of the love and acceptance I feel in my home among my family. As she went on to say, if disability is different at home than it is at church, that indicates a problem. If I do not feel at home, I am not experiencing the hospitality that I should be feeling.

I have been thinking that churches should be regularly reviewing their level of hospitality towards people...all people. Not the high performers who would be celebrated in any environment.  But hospitality toward those who experience devaluation for any number of reasons, not the least being disability and the poverty that too often accommpanies it. It is the presence of those people who can be like the "canary in the mineshaft" to tell us how we are doing at hospitality.  If those people are not in your church, if they do not see your church as "home", then some serious self examination needs to occur about who you are as a church. Are you a church of Jesus Christ who would welcome devalued people, or have you morphed into something else that self-examination would cause you to make excuses for?

Do you have the courage to ask those with disabilities or those who are familes with members with disabilities about whether your church feels like home to them? It is a scary question. (see this past post on scary questions) But it is a question if answered honestly will provide guidance for the church such that it will become hosptiable to all.  So it would be "natural, like home."


1 comment:

Gary Sweeten said...

Most churches are more like a walled city that prohibits coming and going than a family that always welcomes us. Our new work is designed to facilitate parents who want to alert the church and society as to their needs. We give families a voice!

The church does not know how to listen.