Here is a test that I would love to conduct. I want to gather 20 random lead pastors who preach at a church with no intentional outreach to the disability community. From what I have learned, it would be far too easy to do this given that only 10% of churches here in the United States have some type of plan to minister to the disability community.
Once I have my group of pastors, one by one, I would ask them what they think of when I ask them to start a disability ministry at their church. What if starting a disability ministry was a mandate? What would they think that entails? What is the first thing that comes to mind?
My guess is that asking 20 different people this question would give me 20 different answers.
Is that a bad thing? Actually, no, it is not bad at all. In fact, that is what I would expect. It is not always an easy and neat answer, either. I get it.
Recently, Kyle Idleman preached a sermon at our church, “One Decision at a Time” where he referenced the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. The premise of the book is how to change your habits and become “1% better every day”. The changing of habits comes by making one decision at a time. Each of those conscious decisions to change will build on top of one another, thus leading to the change that you want to make.
That really got the wheels turning for me and made me think back to that question that I want to ask a random group of pastors: what do you think of when you hear you need to start a disability ministry?
Starting a disability ministry does not have to begin this massive endeavor. It does not have to begin with a churchwide giving campaign to raise money to overhaul the entire campus. It does not have to begin with hiring and training an additional 10 staff members.
Going back to the sermon at my church, it is also worth noting that according to our bulletin, my church had a weekly campus-wide attendance of nearly 20,000 people. At the campus where my family and I serve and attend, there were nearly 10,000 people there. After Christmas, my mother was one of those people in attendance. I remember her showing the bulletin to me and asking if the numbers she was looking at were for the year or for the weekend. She said that the giving at my church the previous weekend was more than the entire annual budget at her church.
I am certain that if I asked our pastor what he thinks of when starting a disability ministry is vastly different than what the pastor at my mother’s church would think of (It would only be fair to say that our church has one amazing disability ministry, by the way).
Here is the best part: Neither is wrong.
If your church makes the decision to love on a family who is affected by disability, congratulations, you now have a disability ministry. That is literally all that it takes. From what I have seen, those are the decisions that Kyle mentioned in his sermon. That one decision to love one family will build. God will bless that decision and grow it.
Are you so focused on trying to start big that it becomes too overwhelming to start or can you focus on a single family? There is no single blueprint that we can apply to every single church out there for starting up a disability ministry. The one proven method is to start changing decisions and let it build.
What is the one decision that your church can make today, to reach those affected by disability?
Here are a few choices for that first decision: