I’ve been enjoying reading a new blog, The Works of God Displayed. Thank you, Shannon, for leaving a comment and a link to your blog!
We share some values, like this statement from her blog a few days ago:
If you want to minister to and with people with special needs, I don’t suggest that you study disabilities first. Study people instead.
Become a student of your families. Ask questions about strengths and weaknesses, about what the person does and doesn’t respond well to. Don’t make assumptions based on what you know about the disability; learn all you can about the person. . .
All of the books and methods and strategies out there recommending formulaic ministry are missing one truth: Jesus didn’t use formulas. He loved people.
Shannon has an MAEd in Special Education, which is obviously helpful in thinking about a disability ministry. But she also recognizes that God provides help for those he calls:
While my background helps and while I know other special needs ministry coordinators with similar backgrounds, it’s not necessary. Because, experienced or not, it’s God who is ultimately in control. If we truly believe that there is a biblical basis for special needs ministry, then we also can believe that God is able to provide and equip the right person to lead it at your church.
I frequently reference 1 Corinthians 12:22 here (On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable) and usually I’m referring to those who live with disability, especially developmental disabilities.
But I would suggest it also refers to people who don’t feel qualified to be in this ministry for any number of reasons: lack of experience or education, unfamiliarity with disability, the fear of doing or saying something wrong, prior bad or difficult experiences.
Most people feel entirely unequipped to be part of this ministry. Yet, that’s who God delights to equip! It shows him to be even more glorious when he takes scared, inexperienced, uneducated people who trust him, and then they frequently develop deep affections for the people God has called them to serve.
And those same unequipped people frequently discover this secret – they are served as well, often believing they are the ones getting the greater blessing!
Of course, he also delights in those who seriously prepare themselves for their vocations through education and professional engagement – and who ultimately trust in him to provide what they need as they serve. God will always know a whole lot more than anyone ever will about disability and his purposes.