Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Church: God’s Brilliant Idea #1

Church is a brilliant idea - especially when it is working well. But is it working well for every one? Is it working well for children (A part of this brilliant idea from the day they are born)? Is it working well for those with disabilities? (Also part of this brilliant idea from the day they are born!) Is it working well for children with disabilities?
Over the next few days I’m going to give some thoughts and ideas about this - and I am going to endeavour to be positive and supportive whilst I do it.
Working with Spring Harvest, I’ve had access to the brilliant theme material for the 2012 event “Church Actually”. Many of my friends there are tweeting with the hash tag #GodsBrilliantIdea. That is what has given me the title of this series of blogs, and it is one that hopefully will give a positive and healthy view of kids and disability, rather than falling into the temptation to constantly berate and knock ‘The Church’ in what it does or does not do for children or those with disabilities.
Recently I put a comment and a question on twitter about the church caring for those with disabilities - and deliberately made it very negative. I wanted a response! My positive ones rarely get a response, so I thought negative might. I wanted comments to help me write these blogs, but sadly - still no comments!!
Let me introduce you to a group of people who call themselves “Churches for All”. I’m part of this group as an associate (Representing Children Worldwide).
It is a partnership of UK Christian disability organisations.
Their aim is to help churches create and sustain an environment where disabled people can participate fully in church life for the benefit of all. Disabled people are involved in the leadership of Churches for All and many of its partner and associate organisations.
Together, they strive to equip churches to reach towards their full potential by truly including disabled people.
'Churches for All' has a passion to see every one being a part of ‘God’s Brilliant Idea’. We advise, we look at how to raise awareness, we shout about inclusion until we are hoarse (Metaphorically speaking of course!) We even do conferences and forums looking at the theology of disability.
For many of us associated with this wonderful group of people it costs us. It costs us time, money, difficulty in traveling to meetings and a lot of emotional energy. Churches for All has no money either - it’s difficult to get funding for something like this! The partner organisations who are part of this group, put in money they can’t afford to keep it going.
So why do we do it? Because we believe that Church is God’s Brilliant idea, and that Church is so much poorer if it doesn’t have disabled people in it.
As a Children’s worker I feel Church is all the poorer for not having children in it too - and even poorer if they don’t have children with disabilities.

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