I’ve had a serious case of writer’s block over this past week. It’s been a long and productive year. I’m very tired. I’ve also been struggling with a profound sense of disappointment… disappointment I’ve been carrying around for much of this year.
I was fortunate to have had the experience of an extraordinarily supportive church when inspired to develop Key Ministry. The desire to see ALL families connect with churches was a product of the experience that my family and I had with church. Our church was truly a gift. But I’ve also come to see that the experiences others have had with church haven’t been nearly as fulfilling.
God never wastes a hurt. I’m sure there’s a reason for my discomfort. I’m pondering the steps I might take personally and the steps our ministry team might take to model the change we desire to see in the year ahead. I thought I’d finish out the year through a series of blog posts touching on gifts that our team can “pay forward” to the churches and leaders we serve, so they in turn can help the families they serve to have an experience of church similar to mine. The first gift I’d like to touch on is the gift of opportunity.
If the church is to fulfill its’ mission, the unique gifts and talents of all Christ-followers must be put to use. I’ve encountered way too many people this past year who have felt called to meaningful service, only to experience experienced hurt and discouragement when pursuing their ministry interests under the auspices of their local church.
I certainly understand that many people approach church leaders wanting to start new ministries that don’t fit within their church’s ministry plan or strategic vision. They may not have an accurate assessment of their own gifts and talents. They may be “messy.” I know a little bit about messy people from my day job. Their speech and action at times may be hurtful. But God uses imperfect people every day to draw attention to His perfect Son and to unleash love to a hurting world. And it’s the role of leaders in the church to provide everyone with the opportunity to optimally use their gifts and talents in the service of reestablishing God’s Kingdom.
There are churches that view ministry as the exclusive privilege and purview of paid professionals who may or may not have had formal education in a seminary or institution of higher learning. Obviously, there are great benefits when leaders involved with sharing the Gospel and making disciples have a deep understanding of Scripture and training to effectively communicate God’s Word. But we as the church and the communities we serve lose out when we neglect the lifetime of experience many Christ followers have for reaching people no one else is reaching. Where in the New Testament does it state that only professional Christians get to do the work of the Kingdom? God’s purposes are often fulfilled through people lacking formal religious education. Take Peter and John, for example.
So what can we do to give the gift of opportunity this Christmas, and throughout the coming year?
- Our team at Key Ministry is always looking for volunteers called to help local churches more effectively connect with families of kids with disabilities. We need folks with all types of gifts and talents. If you want to serve by supporting our ministry, or if you’re looking for help in finding your place to support the mission in your local church or community, contact us. Few things give me as much satisfaction as seeing new volunteers experience the opportunity to use their gifts and talents in Kingdom building.
- We can be more intentional in providing opportunities for children and adults with disabilities and their families to serve meaningfully in our local churches. Serving is critical for spiritual growth. Laura Lee Wright gave a very nice talk on this topic during Inclusion Fusion.
- Finally, one of the activities I’d like to pursue outside of Key Ministry during 2012 is to begin to establish a community of high-capacity Christ followers who have felt some calling to use their gifts and talents and experiences for Kingdom purposes who have been unable to receive the connections and support necessary to pursue their calling within their local churches.
I’m fortunate to have been in a place where I was encouraged and supported in pursuing my crazy ministry idea. I want others to experience the same opportunity.
ACCESS TO INCLUSION FUSION TALKS AND DOWNLOADS NOW EXTENDED THROUGH SATURDAY, DECEMBER 31st! Chuck Swindoll and more than twenty-five ministry leaders came together on November 3rd-7th as part of a Special Needs Ministry Web Summit for church staff, volunteers, family members and caregivers everywhere. Inclusion Fusion is a Key Ministry event, presented FREE OF CHARGE with the support of Pajama Conference. Register here for access to the video archives of the Summit!