Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Hidden Opportunity in Your Church

How Christ-centered hospitality can help families affected by autism.

Given the statistics, whether you realize it or not, there’s a good chance that you have a family in your congregation who’s parenting a child with autism and running through these same questions as they enter your sanctuary. And there’s a good chance that you may be tempted to overlook their needs: the constant hum of ministry demands and Sunday gatherings require efficiency, consistency, and structure.
But if a congregation’s eyes are open to this reality, the ministry opportunity is surprisingly simple. The key is not expert knowledge about the disorder, but a willingness to be hospitable and flexible, two straightforward but profound ways to show the love of Christ to such families.
Some simple, but helpful steps churches can take include:

1. Meet and Greet

Ministry leaders can set up a time to gather with parents and kids with special needs to get to know their diagnoses and concerns. Are parents desperate for childcare? Are their kids isolated during Sunday school? Is the format of your kids’ ministry too overwhelming for their child? Does the simple act of walking through the crowd at church create anxiety in their child? Listening to families directly allows leaders and volunteers to recognize the specific needs of their congregation.