“But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”
In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary…. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.”
1 Corinthians 12: 18-22, 27
Do you ever feel like you can’t contribute to a group? It’s one of the worst feelings we as people have to face – feeling useless, unwanted, and less than. Sometimes it’s for lack of ability or knowledge in a certain area, or it might simply be that everyone seems to have something in common except you.
At Friendship Ministries, we have seen that this scenario often appears in the one place where it should be most unlikely – in God’s church. In Sunday morning services, small groups, meetings, and events, it is easy for our tight-knit communities to unwittingly exclude some of our members.
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul encourages us to really see and care for our neighbors, even if they don’t seem to fit the group mold for one reason or another. “Our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it,” Paul says. The differences that make us unique are actually signs of a healthy body – not signs of dysfunction. For “how strange a body would be if it had only one part!”
Making it easy for everyone to feel included and like they can contribute to the group might mean breaking down barriers. Sometimes we aren’t aware these barriers exist until someone speaks up!
Our ministry focuses on barriers of ability – making God’s word and small group communities accessible to persons with physical or intellectual disability such as autism, dementia, or Down syndrome, as well as persons who speak English as a second language or whose learning style is different than traditional Bible studies.
So let’s take a second look at the Church. How is your home church doing at breaking down barriers? We have many resources to help you create an inclusive community for the body of Christ – which has no spare parts.