Supporting churches to include people with Autism and Learning Disabilties

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I’m usually a real optimist and my faith helps me have hope and joy in troubled times.  I believe Jesus is working in this world and in the hearts of people to bring his will into being, to bring comfort, healing and hope in all situations and to build his church.  This will happen, and does.

However, this week I have heard from two different friends about the pain they feel in being rejected yet again by the churches that should be welcoming and including their children with additional needs.  One said that someone hadn’t noticed her child with Down’s Syndrome ever being part of the church, even though they’d attended for over 10 years and another told me about not being able to go to church with their severely autistic son because (as the leaders said to her) “They don’t know what to do with him”.  The same theme comes also from the blog I copied into mine this morning (see https://mattsbibleblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/22/disability-parents-and-the-church-do-not-be-afraid/ ) I read this time and time again – children with additional needs rejected, ignored and asked to leave churches because “they don’t know what to do,” or even worse “you are disrupting the way we do things here.”

Sorry, but it makes me so mad.  and I am sounding judgemental.  I’m sorry about that too.

I sat upstairs in a quiet part of my church this morning and wept and prayed for all the autistic and other additional needs children I know, for my own church and for all churches who need to find a way of “knowing what to do” for children and adults with additional needs.  I am glad there are those who are speaking up for themselves, such as Disability and Jesus.  But I am also aware of so many who need someone to speak up for them.  Those who are non-verbal, can’t find the words, and who no-one listens to.

The danger is we think we’re an inclusive church because we have a service for adults with learning disabilities (or a children’s thing or something else) – and it is good, so that’s that box ticked…but when you look at the bigger picture we ought to be asking

WHO ISN’T HERE?

So don’t you dare say you’re an inclusive church. Because you just might be judged on that claim.  Our pride and arrogance leads to sin. Better to be asking

HOW CAN WE BE MORE INCLUSIVE?

And let Jesus and those who need to be included, show you.  It’s really not rocket science.  You may have to make changes.  You may have to start at the beginning and learn together.  You may have to stop ‘tutting’ and saying ‘we don’t know what to do’, and start looking for ways to do something positive.  Prayer, friendliness and acceptance are attitudes. You don’t need qualifications but there’s training out there.

And if you are at home, not able to get to church, or feeling hurt and rejected by Christians who don’t understand, please forgive us.  Please don’t give up on Jesus.  My prayer for you is that you will be able to be part of his family and we shall all be the church he is building.

And here is a song to encourage you.  May it be your church’s prayer  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbdJXKqVgtg

(Build your Kingdom Here – Rend Collective)

 

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Comments on: "Don’t you Dare call yourself an Inclusive Church" (5)

  1. Weeping over here. Our experiences are making it difficult for me to want to get involved again. I run on empty so much of the time and it requires a special kind of energy to have to explain my autistic children’s behaviour and my disabilities affecting how I care for them. I just don’t have that at the moment! But I am carried by the One who created us and who loves us like no other and who never gives up even when I can’t see a way forward. Thank you for writing this x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Do you think parents/families openly share or see church as part of the EHCP provision? I’m working with a few families currently and church – bridging the knowledge and skills divide between learning in school and learning at church.
    In my previous church, I would strongly encourage/advocate parents to invite church children’s team lead to annual review or contribute via submission.
    Two cases I am working on at the moment – church not even mentioned as strong influencing factor in family’s lifestyle. Also adapting outcomes/strategies in EHCP to church context. It has taken a lot of input for parents to openly share and see the link.

    Like

  3. The church I used to attend did wonders with an Asperger’s child. It was one of those very conventional C of E churches with a robed choir, and a lot of musical families whose kids were in the choir. This child was also desperately musical, and the choirmaster had him join the coir, and it was mainly the acceptance of the choir, including the children in the choir, which helped him when he was being home-schooled because no school would accept his behaviour. He’ snow an adult and a composer. This is a very unusual story, but the good thing about it is, that church did include and in his case knew how to accept … However, it’s otherwise a very uninspiring place and I have recently moved to join a more positive and lively one … Still, it suited that child, and that is one blessing it’s given someone. Probably the rather ‘introverted’ and intellectual style of it (set among the academic community of North Oxford) suited him better than any school!

    Liked by 1 person

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