Pentecost by Chinese artist He Qi
Before anything is begun we pray. Then, guided by God we act.
I love the way Jesus showed himself as the risen Lord, gave his disciples a commission and then told them to wait until the Holy Spirit came to give them power to do what he had asked them to.
Our Good News Group was started by people who prayed, waited and then acted. I wan’t part of that but I am eternally greatful to those who set up our group. (If you are reading this – thank you x) I joined it as a helper about a year later and two years ago joined the leadership team. I am the one who writes this blog but I need to stress that very few ministries work with people acting alone. It is easy to become overwhelmed and burnt out unless we work as God said…The body of Christ…each part doing its bit.
Each church has leaders, usually a leadership team. It is the vicar, minister, pastor and the PCC, Elders (or whatever they are called in your church) who need to support any drive towards a more inclusive church.
However, before you go to speak to your leaders it is a good idea to do some homework. don’t just go with a long list of complaints and problems stating why church is impossible for your child with additional needs, or that people with additional needs generally don’t come to your church. Church leaders are often bombarded with problems, complaints and criticism and everyone looks to them for all the answers. You are much more likely to get support by setting out a general overview of the situation nationally or locally (for example how many people with additional needs live in your area. Try local council website for statistics. The government website will have national statisitcs.) This will identify the need in context rather than being specifically critical of your church. Many Church of England Diocese (and other church organisations that you may belong to) have papers and reports on their website such as the ‘Opening the Doors Report’ on
If you can then set out what other churches are doing and bring articles and examples to their attention, it will help church leaders see that it can be done and where they can ask for support. I have mentioned www.prospects.org.uk and www.liveability.org.uk before. I will also recommend www.throughtheroof.org and www.careforthefamily.org.uk/additonalneeds/ – if you have anything going on nearby, go and visit them if you can. Come with testimonies, reports and examples of how people and families with addtional needs CAN be included in any church and are an important part of the body of Christ.
Draw up a list of what you have seen and what you think could be done at your church. Be reasonable and realistic at first, but be open to a God who can do much more than we can ask or imagine!
Keep praying. I will make no apology for repeating this a lot…nothing worthwhile or eternal will happen without our complete reliance on God.
It may be that you are not the person who will take on and move the ministry forward. The Lord may be using you as the catalyst and others will come on board with their gifts. Pray for a team of godly and willing people who can work together to do this work.
Preparing something before you talk to your leaders, (it will be very difficult to do anything without their support) will help them see the bigger picture and grasp your vision. Don’t give up and know that the Holy Spirit will work, speak and act thorugh all who are willing to wait and listen.
Let me know how you get on – or if you have done this already, what advice have you got to share?