Why 8 in 10 do not attend church

Eighty percent of families with children who have disabilities do not attend church.

This blog post talks to families about the reasons for that number.

  • My child is not welcomed in any of the children’s activities, they said he is too disruptive.
  • I took my child to Sunday School class, but they wheeled him to the corner and he sat there until I came to pick him up.
  • They said I had to keep my child with me because they had nobody that could help care for her during Children’s church.  I tried, but she can be noisy, so an usher asked us to please leave the sanctuary because she was disrupting the service.
  • I asked the pastor if we could possibly have someone help my child during Sunday School, they told me they were not responsible to find me babysitters.
  • It’s not worth it, my child cannot handle the sensory overload.
  • When my child is loud, people stare at us and shake their heads. I even had people tell me that my child needs discipline, my child has autism and they know it! I’m not going back.
  • My child is welcomed, but almost very Sunday they call me and I have to go get her from her class. Why bother.
  • I tried starting a special needs class for kids, the church leadership did not support me, they said there was no need.
  • For 20 years my wife and I took turns going to church. One Sunday she would go and I stayed home with our son, the next one we switched.

3 thoughts on “Why 8 in 10 do not attend church

  1. Perhaps clergy should be required to take child development and child psychology classes before ordination.

  2. Is it fair to compare public school systems to Sunday School programs? In small congregations, like the one I lead, it’s hard to recruit people to teach. I would love it if I could get fully trained special ed teachers to teach the gospel to some of our children, but I don’t have any of those in my congregation. If I did have them, I’m not sure they would want to spend their sabbath doing what they do all week long. Most churches just do the best they can with what they have, unfortunately, that isn’t always enough for everyone.

  3. Even though I’m about to be moving to a new congregation, I’d like to lift up something I love about my current congregation, Church of the Servant in OKC, OK. We have a program called “Hannah’s Promise” designed to care for children with disabilities (and their siblings) for one Saturday evening a month in order to allow their parents a bit of respite care. We also have “shepherds” on Sunday mornings who volunteer to serve by being paired with children with physical and mental challenges. The parents and families who use these opportunities are profoundly grateful, and the people who help in these areas are truly living Kingdom lives. I can’t think of anything much more Christ-like than caring for children with special needs in this way.

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