Going any where with a special needs child can suck. Perhaps the hardest place on earth is church. When finding a church a popular party line is “Church isn’t about what it offers you. It’s about what you’re giving the church” or “Ask what you can give the church. It’s not all about your needs”. Well my husband and I were one of those pumped, recently seminaried (yes I made up that word), ambitious parents of two that thought, “Hey we can do anything.”
We left the beloved security, of our home church to embark on the journey of church planting. NO! We were not personally church planting. We were crazy but not that crazy. Rather we joined up a fresh church plant to see what we could learn with the prospect of maybe church planting someday ourselves. At first it seemed like the perfect fit. My husband was able to get involved relatively easy and started volunteering. I was excited about being apart of a young congregation relatively close to my home.
The problems started when my kids started being well themselves. My precious soon to be three year old was exhibiting symptoms of sensory and developmental delay. Our one year old was decently normal, but then I got pregnant. Oops. The nursery teachers started giving me dirty looks and complaining to me about my child when I picked her up from class. I asked to have her moved up an age group a couple months early, but church like any other institution can be unnecessarily rigid, and I was promptly denied my request.
This young church plant in perhaps their ambitious, excited naivety looked at my husband and I and asked “Can’t you do more?” “You both have seminary degrees that can be used. Why won’t you use them?” The pastoral staff was downright angry I wouldn’t volunteer in children’s ministry. I tried to tell them they didn’t want me in children’s ministry on a good day, but they didn’t understand. Because just getting into the door of church was such a challenge, I could no longer sacrifice the help of my husband even just to change up the slides for worship. We realized that even though we had so so much to give, we needed so much more. We gave it a year at the church plant and realized we needed HELP!
Yes, we went back our home church. It was an older congregation that had the patience and grace to meet us where we were at. I remember calling friends at church to see who could meet us at our vehicle when we arrived at the building. Yes, getting in the building was such a challenge with our three little ones. It was an inner city church on a very busy street, and my sensory challenged three year old needed to be securely carried. We learned a lesson that many churchgoers don’t understand. For us, churchin’ it sometimes needs to be far more about what our family’s needs than the needs of others.