by Lisa Meyers
Wouldn’t you love to be called “irresistible?” Any person would. We often call desserts or babies “irresistible.” What would it be like if our church was called “irresistible?” That’s the word that Sib Charles of Joni and Friends uses to describe a church where every individual is loved, honored and celebrated… even those with disabilities. An “Irresistible Church” is an authentic church built on the HOPE of Christ and one which compels people to come and join in. It’s a place where people feel they truly belong.
At FCC we work to be a place where people belong. We have a volunteer team who welcomes and greets visitors each Sunday. We host a monthly Welcome Party to introduce newcomers to the pastoral staff. We periodically hold classes for new attendees to share with them our church convictions and programs. But do we embrace disability universally across the congregation? It’s a question our kids’ ministry staff has been asking now for a few years. And the answer we keep coming back to is, “we want to be like that. We want to offer the HOPE of Jesus to all children, including those with special needs.”
This past summer FCC hosted a seminar on Autism, one of the prominent diagnoses for children with disabilities today. Our speaker dispelled some myths about ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).
People with Autism don’t want friends. NOT TRUE! Children with autism often find it hard to interact socially with peers. They might seem shy or unfriendly, but usually just need a little extra help and encouragement.
People with Autism are intellectually disabled or can’t learn. NOT TRUE! Children with ASD are often highly intelligent and they focus on one area with extreme success! Autism often brings with it a high IQ and exceptional abilities or talents. They might need a little help in the areas where things don’t come quite as easily. All people are capable of learning spiritually regardless of disability.
Because a person with Autism is not making eye contact with me, he or she is not listening or understanding. NOT TRUE! Kids with autism respond well to cues such as using first-then transition words between activities, visual schedules, and timers. These aides help kids with ASD to follow class routines and successfully enter in with others.
It takes a person with special educational training to help a child with Autism. NOT TRUE! It does take an individual who desires to share Jesus, who can extend love and care, and is patient. It takes someone with a loving heart and willing hands to share the love of Christ with a child. (By the way, we help and train our volunteers who work as buddies at FCC!)
It’s a FACT:
1 in 59 children in the US are affected by Autism.
1 in 31 boys are affected by Autism.
1 in 151 girls are affected by Autism.
90% of families with a child with Autism don’t attend church. This leaves them feeling isolated.
And those numbers keep changing and growing.
Our Challenge:Let’s embrace the different ways God has made us, and further extend love and hope to children, students, and adults with Autism. Let’s pray together that as a church God would make us irresistible!
FellowshipKids is currently adding Volunteers to its buddy program. Find out more at the HUB on Sunday morning or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.