This has been a particularly good week to be part of a faith family that cares and shares.
Last weekend, my prayer partner contacted me about how I was coming along in a terribly difficult family conflict. We prayed for each other as brothers in Christ.
This week, an elder followed up to ask if I needed any financial assistance. I told him I was holding up so far, but that the offer was a huge show of support.
Yesterday, my pastor and his family showed up at an author fair I was featured in. Their smiles made my whole day.
Today, a man came up to me to tell me how much he appreciated my article in the local newspaper.
Yes, it has been a particularly good week to be a receiving and contributing member of my faith family.
A healthy, holy church includes all God’s children both by caring for them in fellowship and sharing with them in service. Not all churches live up to this standard. A recent study by Dr. Andrew Whitehead of Clemson University in this month’s Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. notes that children with no reported chronic health condition were significantly less likely to report never attending church services compared to the population as a whole. In contrast, kids with the following health conditions were significantly more likely to report never having attended church… (see “It’s the hidden disabilities that keep kids out of church.”; Key Ministry)
Children with autism spectrum disorders are 1.84 times more likely to never attend church.
Children with depression are 1.73 times more likely to never attend church.
Children with traumatic brain injury are 1.71 times more likely to never attend church.
Children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder are 1.48 times more likely to never attend church.
Children with anxiety are 1.45 times more likely to never attend church.
Children with speech problems were 1.42 times more likely to never attend church.
Children with learning disabilities were 1.36 times more likely to never attend church.
Kids with ADD/ADHD were 1.19 times more likely to never attend church.
Kids with bone, joint and muscle problems were 1.15 times more likely to never attend church.
Clearly, we can do more as a faith community to see that all God’s children are welcomed into the life of the church as fully functioning participants. giving and receiving faithful acts of service and love. If we fail to do this, our body is missing vital members needed to carry out our mission.
Whitehead’s research confirms what we know yet don’t want to face. Yet, the study is limited in its perspective. It doesn’t explore the precise reasons why children with certain disabling conditions are not going to church. It may be that it is hard enough to get a child out for school five days a week and one more day for church is viewed as an unnecessary burden. If this is the case persons who don’t easily fit into a church building need a church-in-community model.
This is the primary mission of Delight in Disorder. We want to reach persons with hidden limitations that are keeping them out of church. Some I talk to have never thought much of faith in Christ. Others once held intense faith, but turned away when their minds turned on them. Still others would like to belong to a faith community, but they either feel unworthy or worry the church would reject them.
After worship today someone came up to me to thank me for the ministry of Delight in Disorder. She said her brother, Daniel (not real name) is going through a particularly difficult time with mental health issues and asked me to pray for him. She said he has wrestled with faith throughout his life. She said,
I just pray he could find a church where he would be welcomed for who he is and encouraged to grow in faith.
Please pray for Daniel, and all the Daniels out there who are spiritually homeless. If you belong to a loving faith family, give thanks to God. If you are still searching, contact me. I will pray with you and offer whatever encouragement I have to connect you to a body of Christ where you can give the best you have and receive blessings beyond measure.