A person wrote to me the other day about disabilities ministries. She wrote, ï¿½I have a question in regards to disability’s ministry. In most of my readings over the past 2-3 years on disability’s ministry, most of the material published has been by the Assembly of God churches. I’m not sure that I’ve read anything Baptist. Some stuff comes from Methodist and very minimal Catholic. Therefore, it seems that the Assembly of God is more open to people with disabilities. So the question is: are they more inclusive because of their evangelical nature? While I’m on this topic, is it practical and/or possible for all churches to offer ministry to those with disabilities?ï¿½
Interesting question. I don’t know enough about the history of the Assembly of God to make a statement as to the cause of high profile in disability ministry. Apparently that profile is high enough, from the indication of your research, to venture that it is a high value with them. It would be interesting to investigate where and when that value arose. Who was (were) the individual(s) that brought it forward? Who carried that value into a
vision that was worked out in concrete ministries?
Most evangelicals traditionally have been slow in the arena of “social ministries,” placing their focus on “winning the lost.” For years they were reactive against the perceived dangers of the “social gospel movement.” But some evangelical missionary and missions societies and groups have a history of strong social ministry–the Salvation Army, for example.
Most denominational bodies have some kind of disability ministry–but as you’ve discovered, you often have to look deep to find them. Often theyï¿½re a sub-ministry or sub-department of a larger denominational department. I’ve noticed that some have a “disability of choice” and that other ministries seem to be more prominent regionally. Special emphasis or focus ministries tend to be “homegrown” and local, with varying success in getting funding and resources from the mother denomination. Unless thereï¿½s someone at the higher echelon of the denominational structure that is personally passionate about disabilities ministries it tends to not get high visibility or funding.
< <ï¿½.While I'm on this topic, is it practical and/or possible for all churches to offer ministry to those with disabilities?...>>
Interestingly phrased question. I think it’s “possible” for all churches to offer ministry to persons with disabilities. It may not be “practical” for that to be true, however. My hunch is that the driving dynamic here is “propinquity.” Someone has to be passionate enough about the particular ministry (usually because there’s a family member involved or they themselves have the disability), and connected enough with the local church (or denominational office) to share the passion, make a case for it, extend the calling, and see it through. Because so many persons and groups with disabilities are “marginalized” it requires that someone be in place to move the group toward higher visibility and toward the center—a “bridge” person. )
“Televangelists–the pro-wrestlers of religion.”
Date posted: Friday, February 23rd, 2007 1:40 pm | Under category: children, leadership, second chair, spiritual gifts
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