Irresistible. Take a moment to consider this word – it’s powerful and compelling. It draws us in and inspires us. But what exactly does Irresistible mean? An Irresistible Church is “an authentic community built on the hope of Christ that compels people affected by disability to fully belong.” As we begin this journey of disability ministry together, it seems fitting to ensure that we all know just what we are reaching and striving for.
An authentic community provides space to celebrate, grieve, question and challenge. We are not telling churches to put on their “game face” and pretend to want people affected by disability in their midst. We actually desire quite the opposite. When the Church is an authentic community, all people are genuinely welcomed, embraced, celebrated and valued. Rather than being shunned for their disability, people are celebrated for who they are and the abilities they have.
To be built on the hope of Christ is the foundational value of the Church. Without Christ, we are merely a gathering of people more along the idea of a social club. Only Christ could bring together such diversity of generations, ethnicities, backgrounds and economic spheres under one roof. It is our hope of salvation and acceptance that overwhelms us and encourages each of us to cling to Christ regardless of what the future holds.
Compelling people affected by disability is not a forced activity where church leaders must drag unwilling participants through the doors of their church. Something compels us because we realize that we simply cannot live without it. In much the same way that I am compelled to fully enjoy a warm chocolate chip cookie because it is irresistible, our churches must become irresistible so that people affected by disability cannot help but participate. The love, joy and value received from participating in church should far outweigh any perceived negatives. The Church must be the compelling institution that Christ designed it to be. Anything less than this undermines the purpose for its very existence.
To fully belong – isn’t this really what everybody wants? Don’t we all long for a place where we can be ourselves, have people embrace us, and gain opportunity to serve and provide value for others? There is no better feeling than to have a place where you can walk in and everyone knows your name. Our church families should know us, problems and all, and love us unconditionally because of the grace of God. He accepts all people, He created all people with a purpose, and He desires that each of us finds our place to fully belong. If not your church, then whose? If not in your ministry, then where?
1 Corinthians 12 reminds us that every part of the body is essential and that those who may seem to be weaker are in fact indispensable. It is with this heart that we call churches to become Irresistible. Will you and your church become the authentic community God’s desires so that all people may find their home…a place where they fully belong?
Mike Dobes is the Supervisor of Church Relations for Joni and Friends.