The holiday season often brings about special events in churches. From live dramas, choirs, dinners, and parties, there’s a variety of activities that local churches host to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas. Will the local church include all members and their families during these celebrations?
As churches plan their special events, there are two things they need to consider.
1. Are families of children with special needs and disabilities attending your special events?
Whether it’s a meal or a special service, the church should strive to see all members attend their seasonal activities. If certain families with children with special needs have not participated in the past, then strive to change that. The easiest way to understand their point of view is to simply ask them why they haven’t attended in the past. There may be a wide range of answers from a time conflict with their daily schedule or issues related with bigger crowds. Take time to listen to the family. Hear their responses. Be willing to help accommodate any needs to help them attend. Some things have easy fixes. Perhaps, the family needs reserved seating in a certain area or could benefit from going through the food line first. Whatever it may be, see if there is a solution to help all families feel comfortable and attend.
2. Are the individuals with special needs encouraged to serve or use their gifts in your church events?
If children or adults with disabilities are never included to help serve, participate, or be part of the special event, then something needs to change. Many times, special events feature roles for individuals that range from easy to difficult. There is most likely a place for someone with a disability to fit in somewhere along that continuum. Be creative. Consider what small accommodations could be made to help get everyone involved. Think about how your church can showcase everyone’s abilities and willingness to serve, not just a few select people.
Helping all families feel valued and included is a way to validate that every church member is important. Think back to your events from last year. Who was missing and why?
Planning church events requires many decisions and forethought. In the middle of all that preparation, it can be easy to overlook some families who may not always be involved. However, local churches should strive to see all families connecting, attending, and participating in their Thanksgiving and Christmas events.
Every family is important to the church body. Let’s make sure they know that by helping them attend and participate in events this holiday season. That would truly be something to celebrate!
Evana is a wife and mother of two children. Since becoming a parent, Evana has spent many hours driving to specialty appointments, praying beside a hospital bed, and learning about her children’s diagnoses. Evana is also a pediatric speech-language pathologist and serves children with autism, feeding disorders, and other developmental delays. You can connect with Evana on Twitter, Facebook, her blog, A Special Purposed Life, or her new book, Badges of Motherhood.