I found this 15 minute video, from Dallas Theological Seminary to be a refreshing insight of Ministry and the Disabled.
This is precisely where I am. But he left out one category: social disability. I struggle with Autism.
Ministry and the Disabled (2007) (Summary of the Video)
I. Who are the disabled? (disabilitystatistics.org)
1. Sensory (Blindness, Deafness, Severe Vision or Hearing Loss)
2. Physical Disability (trouble moving by themselves)
3. Mental Disability. (Learning, Remembering, Concentrating)
4. Go outside the home
6. Self Care
Disabled over the age of 5, and NON-institutionalized. (In U.S.)
10 – 15 million
Over 20 million?
As of 2007, 41.3 million non-institutionalized and over the age of 5.
1 in 5 have a functional disability.
54 million in the U.S. (National Organization on Disability)
As age goes up, chances of disability go up.
Majority of disabled over 18.
Special needs. Special and needy but geared only to kids.
Disability viewed as abnormality, but is it?
Life between trees Garden of Eden Heaven Tree of Life Fall of Man Tree of Life Gen 2:9 Gen 3 Rev 22:22 (disability/abnormal) disability/normal disability/abnormal)
Rev 21: God wipes away tears, and no more suffering.
55 y.o. stroke victim. Can’t speak, but otherwise okay. Where do they put him? Special needs ministry for kids.
Less then 15% of churches have a disabled ministry.
53% have no church.
54 million people — 1/2 don’t attend church.
2 in 7 families have a disabled family member.
85% of marriages end in divorce when one disabled child present.
No public places. No baby sitter. No church support.
What do we do?
The role of online church ministry in the world today
As you saw from the previous video, about 20% of the population of the United States is disabled. Some mildly, some severely.
I have Aspergers Syndrome. A form of Autism. I do NOT read social information correctly. Body language and cues, are foreign to me. I stumble through social situations. Always uncomfortable. Always unsure, of what to do or say next.
Some parents of severely autistic children, find it hard to find a place to worship, simply because the church does not accommodate autism, or traumatic brain injury. How to you reach these folks for Christ, is they can not come to a brick and mortar place of worship?
The church instead, goes to them. 24/7/365 online church is streamed live via the internet. For me, it was God sent. I was too far away from my old church, and could not afford to travel that far. I tried to find a church close by, but while you can kick the tires on a car, they don’t like you kicking people in the congregation. Online church allows me to be as engaged in the discussion, or as anonymous as I need to be.
They are no expectations to meet. There are other Christians there to help guide you along the journey to pray for you. Chat Moderators from all over the world, allow services to be global in nature, and not just minister to one locality.
The world is now a global village. And to shun a person or pigeon hole them because of a physical or mental disability, is becoming less of a barrier. How do we reach these people?
One person at a time.
The ABC’s of Communication
A – Adjust your agenda. Make the time to minster to these people. Meet them where they are at. Home, lonely, often dejected. Each has a story that must be told, must he heard, and must be prayed for. Take the time to listen, and meet the needs of the individuals.
B — Build a bridge. Find something you both are genuinely interested in, and cross that bridge together. It could be movies, art, music, tv, books….anything. Find something you both have in common and both enjoy. This requires you to invest time in the life of another person.
C — Communicate the character of Christ. People do not need to see our mouth flapping, they need to see our life working. It means being as transparent and open and honest as possible.
As one author said:
“Tell me how much you pray for a person,
and I will tell you how much you have loved them.”