Skip to main content

Andrew Gribben

Stronger as Family ๐Ÿง”๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿพ๐Ÿ‘ฑ๐Ÿฝ‍โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ง๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘ต๐Ÿผ

4 min read

Let me start with a question, do businesses care more about disability than the Church? Perhaps some do, but itโ€™s much more likely that many adaptations are made due to obligations and carefully planned and costed strategy.

Should the church follow suit? Does it already? Some churches operate as a business, with a large staff and budget who can be fully aware of and actively pursue accessibility compliance, so what sets them apart from companies like Coca Cola, or Apple?

One of the things Iโ€™ve learnt, especially in the last few years, has been the importance of empathy. This Christ-like heart is the one great advantage that the Church has over the world.

When it comes to adapting to disability, businesses have regulations, but families have needs. We certainly werenโ€™t prepared for a child with special needs; we had to adapt quickly and still are. We had to learn fast, change on the fly and learn not be disappointed when things inevitably didnโ€™t go to plan. Sometimes we might learn from the example of others, other times itโ€™s Petey himself who teaches us, like when he sat on stage for 45 minutes at his nursery school nativity and took part in every song.

Families have needs. What is the Church if not a family?

Just as we werenโ€™t prepared, itโ€™s ok that the Church isnโ€™t either.

If you donโ€™t have have congregants in wheelchairs then thereโ€™s no need to put an ugly wheelchair ramp out front?

If no one in your church suffers from epilepsy, are strobe lights and laser shows during worship fine?

These statements might be true for you and thatโ€™s ok! The important thing is that we are aware of others, sensitive of their needs and have empathy with them.

While itโ€™s easy to think that we donโ€™t have congregants with a specific need and therefore donโ€™t need to make adaptations, chances are we donโ€™t have those people because theyโ€™ve went elsewhere, or worse, nowhere.

More than anything the Church needs to reveal the Fatherโ€™s heart to the community; itโ€™s ok to not be prepared as long as we have love. Weโ€™ve already talked about how difficult it is for us and for other families of children with special needs, to do something new. Almost a year go we came here, to morning service backed up by nothing but Google and prayer and were welcomed and loved immediately. We didnโ€™t judge the church because they didnโ€™t meet every single of of Peteyโ€™s needs, because how could they prepare for a child theyโ€™d never met.

Thatโ€™s not to say that weโ€™d just visit anywhere. What brought us to our current church was prayer and Google. We had to make a shortlist of churches that had certain facilities and at least one was dropped from the list for having no useful information on their website.

I could talk for another hour about the importance of having a relevant church website but youโ€™ll be glad to know that now is not that time! A church website only can take you so far, to the door. What made us stay, even in the face of David McBrideโ€™s hugs, even when people didnโ€™t completely understand, was that we felt accepted and loved.

What good is the great commission without love? If we go in obligation and not love, then what good can we do?

The Church is stronger as a family. As family we can adapt to changing needs through love and as a family we can bring the kingdom to all around us.

This article was originally published as a podcast, available here