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

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Universal mature ministry criteria

I was in a meeting the other day where the topic of ministry maturity came up. One comment was made that each church is so different there could not be criteria across all churches. I was just listening into the meeting so didn't comment, but nothing could be further from the truth. Just to prove that point, here are a list of some criteria I came up with, just off the top of my head, that would be applicable to any church, that they could use to measure their own ministry's growth toward maturity. These could also apply to one's church generally.

Maturity criteria
  1. Friendships developed with persons with disabilities
  2. Persons with disabilities present in all church social activities
  3. Persons with disabilities present in the regular worship service
  4. Persons with disabilities present in men’s groups, women’s groups, senior’s groups, etc.
  5. Pastor addressed issues related to disability from the pulpit
  6. Persons with disabilities integrated into regular Sunday School classes – children and adult
  7. Persons with disabilities sought out and invited to church – children and adults
  8. Church membership offered to persons with disabilities
  9. Integrated ministry which includes persons with disabilities
  10. Persons with disabilities provided opportunities for service (greeters, children’s ministry, security, etc.)
  11. Persons with disabilities are in leadership
  12. Homes where persons with disabilities live are visited
  13. Church network supports persons with disabilities with employment opportunities
  14. Church network supports persons with disabilities with living opportunities
  15. Persons with disabilities invited to recreational opportunities (ball games, concerts, etc.)
  16. Church culture changes such that persons with disabilities experience integration
  17. Church reflects on traditions to determine whether they are discriminatory towards persons with disabilities
  18. Helps ministries developed for persons with disabilities living in poverty
  19. Parents of persons with disabilities are offered respite on a personal level
  20. Persons with disabilities are invited to family activities like Thanksgiving dinner or children’s Halloween activities as adult observer
  21. How a persons with disabilities is doing in her personal life (friendships, finances, other needs) is known and addressed.
These are only a start, but EVERY church could be engaged in growing in these areas.



Anonymous said...

I think that this topic is necessary for all churches to be aware of and actively thinking about. Having visited many churches over the process of finding a new church home, I do think that measuring the maturity of a church is not only natural, but relatively easy. Whenever I would go to a new church, I would quickly notice if people with disabilities were involved. Yes, what I saw initially may not reflect upon the church as a whole, but it is still good insight. When there were people with disabilities as ushers, greeters, and traffic guiders, it sends the message that this community is being reached very well, and the church is very mature in that area.
Asking a church how they comply with the list that you have created, is an excellent initial understanding of the maturity of the church. It is important for the church leaders (pastors, elders, etc.) to be mature themselves and in their relationships with disabled people. Their maturity will reflect upon that of the church, how the church interacts with disabled people, and how people who attend the church interact with them individually. Maturity is not only important, it is definitely able to be measured universally, and it is important to do that to gauge the health of churches.

descended said...

Hi Jeff,

Some thoughts to finish out Part III.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.

The general atmosphere at most churches isn’t even close to this among neurotypicals. Every point you made essentially boils down to loving one another and not far removed from your point, at that. There’s no dance to get from #'s 1, or 12, or 19 to any of the verses pasted here. Yet, we, the parishioners, can’t get it together! How then are we supposed to branch out in love to the community? What kind of inclusion are they going to experience when we don’t even include one another? Its a very monistic existence in the western church today. Having led a “Special Needs Ministry” I found our ministry became a grudge to volunteers when it was found that that 15% Servants To 85% Sitters statistic proved absolutely true.

That said God bless you for your incredible service and may your treasure chest be full of refined gold at the Bema seat. There are truly outliers to my opinion.

We don’t “Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”

Rather we “…pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” 4have [we] not made distinctions among [ourselves], and become judges with evil motives?”

It would be amazing if we just did what Jesus said!! If we did what the Holy Spirit said!! You wouldn’t have to have Universal Design or SRV, and normalization wouldn’t be a thought, but would strike us as humorously redundant.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

If we truly loved one another as Christ loved us, we wouldn’t be seeking the disabled because they’d be showing up by word of mouth, with their paid caregivers, families, etc. If we, the stones, let God build us up into an holy temple at his discretion, they will come. Perhaps what makes your ministry so effective is that it is operating in relation to the other expressions of ministry at your church - ?

#11 That said, and on to something else, I don’t see how this point works. Of whom are you speaking? Medically disabled with full cognition? Intellectually Disabled or developmentally delayed folk? Individuals without full capacity to relate neurotypically would find it hard to exhort and encourage a believer struggling with opioid addiction, or what to do with believers involved in extra marital affairs. Even how to run a ministry for special needs, the unwritten social rules of integration, etc.
"Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time?” Matt. 24:45

I am of the opinion that this is the last hour as Paul said, so the world is near the end of “waxing worse and worse” as Christ said would happen. He is coming soon! Paying special attention to one another in the church, among the saints who need one another and are too self-absorbed to realize it (myself included), is paramount. Can we invite anyone to the banquet when the building in disrepair? They will come when our greatest gospel is lived out to its fullest.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a great insight that I have perhaps developed as I have been trying to answer questions regarding disabilities. I think individually I had been looking only to the pastor of a church to determine maturity of a church. A pastor's ability will help the church and congregation mature; however, I think that the maturity level is determined by everyone of the church. I had thought about my church and our efforts to reach out to those with disabilities. I had put all of the duty or efforts onto the pastor. I felt as though the pastor was to be held liable to bring those with disabilities and teach them. It was the pastor that had to initiate or reach out; however, I was challenged to think from a different perspective. Instead of pointing a finger, I was challenged to be the initiative. As a church member, I can help the pastor learn, reach, and minister to those in need and help other congregation members. A church that is challenging, teaching, and helping everyone could be the definition of a mature congregation.

Anonymous said...

I could only imagine how intense and insightful that meeting would have been if you were allowed to speak and voice your opinions. When I read some of the criteria, I kept thinking back to the small churches who may not have all the resources or staff to be able to go out and find person's with disabilities or be able to transport them to the church. I also thought back to Wolfensberger's 18 wounds, specially wound 16, and felt that it is not just the church that is to blame, it is the group homes that do not give the exposure or the transportation necessary to allow person's with disabilities to be able to attend church. I feel it is a combination of the church and the system that people with disabilities cannot attend church services. That being said, I enjoyed, in my opinion, the most powerful one of all which was number 17 that the church should reflect on traditions to determine whether they are discriminating towards persons with disabilities. This one stood out because they do experience discrimination, even now in some of the churches attempt to integrate which is giving them a separate ministry or a section on the side that closed off is basically how the blacks were treated back in the days, "separate but equal" it was not right then, and it is not right right now with this population.

Anonymous said...

From what I have experienced in a small group with a mother who had severely disabled children, there is not a lot of help for those with disabilities, nor their parents. The feel in the room as the mother spoke and shared her experience with her kids became tense. No one wanted to hear her struggles, identify with her, or be asked to help out. The mother felt a lot of shame because she believed that her children were her punishment for a life lived not serving the Lord. Therefore, she had to care for the children at all cost, with no help and no respite because that would be sinful of her to deny her children, and by extension, the Lord, of the atonement she was to live out. It was appalling to hear the mother say these things as they are a social construct or moral model rather than biblically rooted. It was heart breaking to see this mother struggle and everyone in the room agree it was her fault somehow that her children were born with disabilities. I wish there was universal criteria churches could apply to be inclusive of those with disabilities, their parents, their caregivers, and those in positions of authority to be able to counsel and enlighten congregations of the biblically rooted determinants of disabilities. This list gave me an insight into a past experience and an ability to identify the needs of my church.