Deep within the human soul is the desire to be wanted, to be valued, to matter. There is a profound cry within each of us to fully belong. What does it feel like to fully belong? What does it truly mean? Imagine with me, for a moment, life within an authentic community where the walls of our guarded hearts can come down, where honesty and acceptance reign, and where each person is valued for his or her unique gifts and abilities. Does this seem more fantasy than reality?
I invite you to dream with me—to discover the heart of God anew and his plans for the Church to become the pure spotless bride as promised in the book of Revelation. Can you picture a place where people gather in the name of Christ without discrimination—a place where the abilities of individuals are celebrated without comparison. All people are welcome, all people are embraced, all people fully belong.
Disability ministry is just another beautiful expression of God’s love for his people. But, this type of ministry can be intimidating and foreign if you aren’t familiar with it—I know because I too am a pastor who simply didn’t get it until God introduced me to the world of special needs ministry. I served for years as both a children’s and youth pastor in multiple churches. I served every family who came through the doors, including those affected by disability. But, I never once considered what life might truly be like for each family. I never realized how much they needed an authentic community where they could fully belong. Through my time serving in special needs ministry, God has transformed my heart to consider people affected by disability in all I do. Now, I see the need. And I believe that if you let him, God will use disability ministry to completely change your heart…
If disability ministry makes you nervous, or you simply feel unequipped to engage in this area of the church, I invite you to read the newest Irresistible Church book, Are You Ready?, available as a free download.
This book is a challenging encouragement to see what the Bible says about disability ministry, to consider what it truly means to open the doors of our churches a bit wider and to make space for everybody to fully belong. Our prayer is that God will use this resource to transform hearts across the world, allowing more church leaders to see the blessings of fully embracing people affected by disability. Oh, that we would truly see each other through the eyes of God and be able to place greater emphasis on our abilities than on our disabilities. Are you ready? If so, I invite you to embrace the world of fully belonging.
Mike Dobes has been in pastoral ministry since 1997 and is currently the Manager of Church Relations for Joni and Friends. He is also the co-founder and content manager for the Irresistible Church blog. Mike writes monthly leadership posts at Irresistible Church and also blogs about life and leadership at www.stepsofaleader.org. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their five incredible children near the beach in Camarillo, CA.