I've spent most of the last month in Wisconsin, Michigan and Missouri meeting and talking with disability ministry leaders from around the country. One thing I've observed is that the methodology we do ministry is changing as the cultural attitudes which shape our audience has evolved over the last several decades. Barb Ward Dittrich rightfully points out in a recent blog that the basis to ministry is still rooted in relational friendship -- reiterating the theological development Hans Reindeers penned in the Gift of Friendship.
For those of us involved in well established ministries this presents both opportunities and challenges. The entrenchment of our methods gives us a place to be comfortable -- to be at home. Venturing out into unfamiliar territory and strange surroundings is as uncomfortable as an extended-stay hotel mattress. It is much easier to retreat towards and relax in a place we know is safe.
Recently, I sat and listened to Dr. Craig Van Gelder, a noted North American missiologist, as he discussed the processes needed and the obstacles to expanding capacity in ministry. There is no question that all of those in disability ministry want to find more volunteers, develop more networks, and find ways to minister more effectively alongside those in our churches and communities. The biggest obstacle to that goal tends to be our desire to remain comfortable where we are. Our discussions were scripturally rooted in Luke 10. This passage related the story of when Christ commissioned the seventy to go out as the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few. The next few verses have deep yet simple implications for networking, hospitality, ministry funding, and expansion. Why? -- because it challenges all involved to move out of normal comfort and into a trusting dependency upon God's providence.