The biggest advocacy battle I fight for deaf people is not against movie theaters, museums or playhouses. In fact, the secular world in general is pretty great at providing accommodations, captioning and interpreting.
The biggest battle often comes down to the churches. Isn’t that the biggest tragedy?!
The most popular song on Christian radio is “Reckless Love”…. “leaves the ninety-nine.” As I sing “Reckless Love” about leaving the 99 for 1, I cannot help but cringe at the irony at some of the stories I have learned.
A lot of ministries have mastered the art of reaching the 99. We have Christian conferences for thousands, we pack out stadiums for church, we crank out thousands of books on various topics, but overall (not everyone, of course) we have lost the strategy of coming after the 1. Leaving the 99 is not profitable and it is not glamorous. You have leave the people who are already there and go off in wild pursuit of the sheep that doesn’t even want to be around you sometimes.
I spend a lot of days emailing churches that put deaf people up on the second levels in the back corners when they have tons of volunteer interpreters readily available. I hear stories of those who directly pour into the pocketbooks raising questions when there is an interpreter in the front of the room as they are “distracted” and deaf people are moved. Stories of conferences who spend thousands on tech savvy new inventive ways to bring in larger numbers, but can’t set aside a space on stage to set up captioning. We are willing to spend the time and resources on the 99 but not for the 1.
We have lost the art of the “one.” Coming after the one is not cost effective, it is less convenient, and it doesn’t make sense for the whole of the group.
Yet, I can tell you this… Jesus’ heart is for ALL PEOPLE and it is for the ONE PERSON.
I am terrible at math, and I have struggled with it since the addition times table worksheets. Always finished last.
The Lord has taught me an equation these past couple of months.
Healthy ministry is a room full of diversity because the Gospel is reaching out to ALL people.
Unhealthy ministry is a room looking like the SAME people.
The Church needs to busting at the seams with all races, all backgrounds and all experiences. It is for the drug addict, for the deaf person, for the middle aged lawyer, for the single mom, for the wandering college student, for the person with Down syndrome, for the country club mom, for the annoying neighbor.
If the church looks a lot like the same people, we simply stuck on the label of “church” and we’re trying to satisfy a lot of moral issues without bringing the God of ALL people in the mix.
People of Jesus! We have to be for ALL PEOPLE and for the ONE PERSON!