Over the past couple of years, there have been many days and nights when my interactions and experiences with people from the church have made me question why I spend so much time and money and energy on a ministry organization to help families of kids with disabilities make connections with churches. I’ve been blessed to have received numerous reminders over the past week or two as to why being connected to other Christ followers is so important.
Yesterday, I opened my Facebook messages and found the kindest, most encouraging note from a follower of the blog who I’ve corresponded with, but never met in person. This individual managed to discern that I personally, as well as our entire ministry team had been under a great deal of duress and shared that she had taken the time to pray for me as well as our team. I cried…an event usually reserved for the Indians winning the pennant or Ohio State winning a national championship.
Later in the day, my small group leader of nearly 25 years e-mailed me and asked me if I wanted to hang out and brainstorm some Key Ministry stuff. I’m not sure that we solved the problems we set out to discuss, but I left feeling very encouraged…and important. I’ve discovered that I have some Board members who care about me a lot outside of our mutual ministry adventure. Because of being grounded in God’s Word and the church, my wife (often my most challenging critic) has been my biggest supporter and encourager of late.
In any event, I’d appreciate your prayers for discernment over a BIG issue I’m struggling with. There are injustices that I observe along with extremely disturbing cultural trends in the course of the day to day work I do with kids and families about which I feel compelled to speak. Despite my best efforts to speak in a manner that encompasses both grace and truth, I know (and our ministry team certainly knows) that sooner, as opposed to later, somebody will be offended by stuff I say or write. Is the need to speak out in such a manner incompatible with serving in a prominent leadership position in a ministry organization like ours?
I ask the question in the context of highly valuing both the freedom of conscience that compels individuals to speak out when led to do so, as well as the importance of relationship. Some of you may have noticed that, for the first and only time, I yanked a post the other night that was generating lots of conversation and discussion. I did that because a member of our ministry team who I highly value and respect asked me to do so. I would want my teammates to do the same for me (even when they’re right) in a situation in which I was experiencing great distress. At the same time, there are also times when people (and organizations) need to hear the truth spoken in love. So…I very much appreciate prayers for wisdom and discernment as we try to work some of these issues out.
One last thing…Churches can be pretty harsh and critical places. But they can also be places where we can find affirmation, encouragement and acceptance. Over the last couple of years, there were some times that I drove a considerable distance to go back and visit a church I’d belonged to in the past to spend time with people who knew me and appreciated me anyway. This Sunday, can you take the time to thank and encourage the pastor who spent 25 hours reading and researching to preach the sermon you just heard, the high school kid who gets up early on Sunday morning while her friends are still in bed to volunteer so that your kid can have a great Sunday School experience and the mom or dad who give up a night with their family every week so that your teenager has a small group to attend? Leaders feel it’s wrong to ask for encouragement, but they need it as much as they need oxygen or water.
Thanks for your prayers and support!
Key Ministry’s mission is to help churches reach families affected by disability by providing FREE resources to pastors, volunteers, and individuals who wish to create an inclusive ministry environment. We have designed our Key Catalog to create fun opportunities for our ministry supporters to join in our mission through supporting a variety of gift options. Click here to check it out! For a sixty second summary of what Key Ministry does, watch the video below…