June 27, 2017

Distressing Disguise or Distraction?

By Chaplain Mike

It finally happened. A church asked Jesus to leave the sanctuary during a worship service because he was being a “distraction.”

Jesus was attending Elevation Church in Matthews, NC in the distressing disguise of a little twelve year old boy with cerebral palsy named Jackson. Jackson excitedly got all dressed up for Easter worship and went to the service with his mom. After the opening prayer, the boy reportedly voiced his own unique “Amen” and a church volunteer approached them and, in the mother’s words, “very abruptly escorted us out.” They were taken out to the lobby to view the rest of the service from there.

You can watch the news report about the incident and meet Jackson and his mom HERE.

The church issued the following statement: “It is our goal at Elevation to offer a distraction free environment for all our guests.” Now there is a statement that screams for cultural exegesis.

Elevation Church, led by Steven Furtick, markets itself in these words: “Elevation Church has a passion to see those far from God filled with life in Christ. It’s an explosive, phenomenal movement of God – something you have to see to believe.” Apparently “explosive, phenomenal movements of God” have no room for Jesus in his distressing disguises—like little boys with special needs who don’t know how to follow the script. Wouldn’t want someone like that to “distract” the worshipers, you know.

I’ll be frank. I’m so mad about this I could spit. If such an incident isn’t the ultimate indictment of what’s happening in the evangelical world of entertainment worship and style over substance, I don’t know what could be.

Skye Jethani is more forbearing than I in his response to this matter. In his post about the story, Skye cautions us not to pile on and overreact to something that may have been a simple misunderstanding. And I have read reports that the church is sending its staff to a local group to get training for handling special needs situations. Good for them if they learn from this horrible failure of hospitality and grace. However, I’m certain that it will not change their overall approach one whit. Churches like this are simply too invested in the show. They may somehow find a place in the building where they can have something for special needs folks, but they won’t ever allow them to turn their “worship” show into something that might be messy, unpredictable, and uncomfortable.

Jethani writes:

In our desire to be distraction free, must we remove individuals from our corporate worship whom God has called to himself? What are we communicating about the church, God’s Kingdom, and the character of God himself, if people with special needs are not fully welcomed? And we don’t have to focus on these extreme examples like the boy with cerebral palsy. In many of our congregations we don’t even want non-special needs children in our worship gatherings.

. . . Those whom our culture labels a distraction, Jesus calls recipients of his kingdom. That should make us pause.

Go to Skye’s blog and read the account of how they handled a similar situation in a congregation where he preached. See an example of what church really looks like.

I would hope the incident in North Carolina is an aberration. But truthfully, I’m not confident of that. At least when it comes to churches where “explosive, phenomenal movements of God” are taking place, it seems Jesus is not welcome there.

Comments

  1. ahumanoid says:

    “I’m so mad about this I could spit. If such an incident isn’t the ultimate indictment of what’s happening in the evangelical world of entertainment worship…I don’t know what could be.”

    My feelings exactly.

  2. A couple of months ago my wife came home from a women’s conference shaking and upset. One of the main speakers had proudly told everyone there that she’d spent the last seventeen years praying that her son (who has Cerebral Palsy) would be healed. She’d taken him to people in the church who apparently had gifts of healing, and all of the other magic tricks Christians try when they’re desperate.

    Her son, to my knowledge, hasn’t been healed of his condition. She’s going to keep praying for him, because she knows God wouldn’t want him to be like that.

    I can understand why my wife was so upset. Apart from the fact this poor kid must have the self esteem of a butternut (I mean, he’s been told his entire life there’s something wrong with him that we need to get fixed, and the family will be far better off when it happens) but it just goes to show the paucity of our theology when confronted by things that just don’t fit the way we want them to.

    Congenital ‘abnormalites’ are as much a part of the person as their gender is. Will people have Cerebral Palsy in eternity? Down’s Syndrome? I suspect they might, but God will redeem what we consider (in our darker moments) disabilities.

    I posted about the incident on Facebook, just to get a bit of an idea what others thought. Some of my friends had been to the conference and had also been offended. Many others thought the whole thing was just silly. Yet there were a few I managed to offend. Sadly, my denominational ‘superior’ emailed me, castigating me for making such inflammatory remarks. One or two people actually ‘defriended’ me. They want to worship a God who performs miracles and does greater things than we can imagine. Which is strange, because I feel exactly the same way, just in the opposite direction.

    I did a quick count at church the next Sunday (we have twenty people or so on a ‘good’ day!) Over half qualify for disability support from the government. We have war veterans who are so emotionally, psychologically and physically scarred they can’t work. Many of our folk have prostheses of one sort or another. Well over half are on medication for mental illness. One girl has Cerebral Palsy. Whilst I find Sunday mornings frustrating at times, I cannot imagine what it would be like without these folk. They know they’re disabled, they know that God loves them and they want to meet together to worship him. Who am I to stop them? We even let kids stay in the meeting during the sermon!

    • Good for you for posting that on Facebook…that takes courage.

    • MelissaTheRagamuffin says:

      What’s your name on Facebook? I’ll friend you. Can I come to your church?

      • Cameron Horsburgh. I think I’m the only one!

        You’re more than welcome at my church, but unless you live in Australia it may be a bit of a commute…

    • cermak_rd says:

      That reminds me of a story about a woman who had a child who had Down’s Syndrome. And she saved her money so she could take him to Lourdes. And finally she had enough and they went there and they returned and her child was as he had already been. But the woman was ecstatic and said there had been a healing. When reminded that her child still had Down’s Syndrome, the mother replied–no, he wasn’t the one who needed healing, he is just the way he should be. It was me who needed to be healed to realize that fact.

  3. dumb ox says:

    “Apparently ‘explosive, phenomenal movements of God’ have no room for Jesus in his distressing disguises.”

    I shared in an iMonk comment a few weeks ago how I met Jesus in such a distressing disguise. The epiphany came when after pushing a wheelchair for someone with cerebral palsy during a week long summer youth mission trip, he got up out of his chair, made me sit down, and then he pushed me around the gym. It probably sounds crazy, but I couldn’t think of a better depiction of the incarnation. God appears in what we consider a helpless, weak, vulnerable form to save us – not just to push us in our wheel chairs but to snatch us from the very jaws of death.

    But there is a danger of going the opposite extreme by being patronizing. Those conquering disabilities are not weak in any stretch of the imagination. And they are still spiritually broken individuals in need of love, forgiveness and a Savior.

  4. dumb ox says:

    “They may somehow find a place in the building where they can have something for special needs folks, but they won’t ever allow them to turn their ‘worship’ show into something that might be messy, unpredictable, and uncomfortable.”

    It’s the show, but it is also the gnostic emphasis upon knowledge. Messy and unpredictable would prevent the enlightened from truly absorbing the words of wisdom in the sermon. Heck, he might get in front of the Powerpoint presentation. What sacrilege! Someone might get startled and scribble highlighter all over their study bible. He might splatter drool across someones notes. That would never do. I’m sure pushing him outside to toss a beach ball around would be more appropriate. [end sarcasm]

  5. My first thought in reading this wasn’t about someone with a disability. Some years ago a homeless man wandered into our church and started chowing down at the snack table. Which is fine; that is what the snack table was for, after all. But one of our church ladies came up to me, upset and worried because this … person … was eating our food, and asked, “What should we do?”

    “Pray that he sticks around for the service,” I said, “and tells his friends.”

    • A mediaeval Irish poem which I read in translation years back goes something like:

      I saw a stranger yestereven,
      I put food in the eating place
      drink in the drinking place
      music in the listening place
      and in the name of the Holy Trinity,
      he blessed my house,
      my cattle and my dear ones,
      and a bird sang
      often, often, often
      goes the Christ in a strangers guise,

  6. i’ve heard Furtick preach. something like this doesn’t surprise me. he appeared too “hip” for a “distraction” such as this.

    • “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”- 1 Cor 9:19-23

      “For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”- 2 Cor. 13-15

      You should read more, if you really loved people you would change whatever you had to so you could reach them better.

  7. My father is the director of a ministry to disabled people (Linked on my name, since it’s a little more relevant to the topic), a place he’s been been a part of for 25 years. I grew up with disabled people in church, small groups, working at the hardware store, and in school. Our church in particular would have choirs from the group home sing, or have people with CP doing the offering.

    One of the best parts of church was watching people with disabilities, sometimes severe mental ones, stand to make a profession of faith and join our church body. People I worked with in group homes were members of our church just like me.

    Hopefully this embarrassing moment for the church will cause them to learn just a little bit more about the true meaning of church. Church IS distraction — all the kids, noisy furnaces, women with too much perfume, the man who shouldn’t have had Perkins’s sausages before church, the tuneless singer behind you, the singer who kept his mic on for the sermon. This is the community of believers, and this is what it means when we meet together weekly.

    (and before we rag on megachurches too much, I’m going to bet that the overwhelming majority of those in attendance were either just fine with this child’s verbal addition or were happy he did so. At least that’s been my experience when little things like this happen.)

  8. God, forgive me for all the times I railed against things that I thought were distracting me from You — without realizing that perhaps the distraction WAS You. I am truly sorry, and I repent.

  9. I understand your anger, and I don’t disagree, and the folks here seemed to have acted too quickly. However, at what point does a congregation need to ensure that something like this does not cause a distraction? I visited a church for several weeks (did not join for other reasons) where a young man, mentally disabled, and about 15 years old was allowed by his parents to simply get up and walk around the congregation during the service randomly talking to other folks out loud.

    What should have been done?

    • First, it should be handled privately. But then, I imagine the pastor of the church in the post doesn’t even know this family, one of the pitfalls of the megachurch that I’ve commented on frequently. Second, it should be handled within the community through loving assistance. Perhaps other families could be enlisted to help. There are certainly some creative ways of helping this young man and his family that the church family could devise. Third, as Skye Jethani illustrates in his post, there are ways of talking about this in church that are gracious and welcoming and instructive. Fourth, the situation you describe is much different, Austin. For heaven’s sake, all the child did in the account I posted was say “Amen” in an unusual way! Certainly if someone is walking around the sanctuary, it may require a little more intervention and creativity to help everyone involved.

      • No, I’m not saying I disagree, in fact I agree with all you have posted here. But I will tell you that there were some in this church (which very much valued disorder and spontenaity sp?) who were hesistant to tell the young man to stop walking around shaking hands and talking during church b/c the Spirit may have been leading him to do it. I’m not making this up.

        • That sounds like a theological issue.

          • From the Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, one to his son about the Blessed Sacrament:

            “Also I can recommend this as an exercise (alas! only too easy to find opportunity for): make your communion in circumstances that affront your taste. Choose a snuffling or gabbling priest or a proud and vulgar friar; and a church full of the usual bourgeois crowd, ill-behaved children – from those who yell to those products of Catholic schools who the moment the tabernacle is opened sit back and yawn – open necked and dirty youths, women in trousers and often with hair both unkempt and uncovered. Go to communion with them (and pray for them). It will be just the same (or better than that) as a Mass said beautifully by a visibly holy man, and shared by a few devout and decorous people. It could not be worse than the mess of the feeding of the Five Thousand – after which our Lord propounded the feeding that was to come.”

          • Well, it’s good advice for me – whenever I tend to sit in the pew inwardly clucking to myself about the priest, the singing, the homily, what have you – to remember this and what C.S. Lewis says in “The Screwtape Letters” about teaching the patient to plume himself on his superior taste when confronted with the red-faced butcher or man in squeaky shoes at church 🙂

          • Miss Martha, you are a gem!

          • @martha’s post of June15 6-07

            that would explain all those feathers around my mouth and chest area…….mystery solved, gratis

        • MelissaTheRagamuffin says:

          This wasn’t about 20 years ago in West Orange, New Jersey was it? We had a special needs boy in our congregation there who did EXACTLY what you’re describing. I believe the reason nobody ever did anything about it was because what was the mother supposed to do? The boy was too big for her to physically restrain. Nobody in the church was really qualified to deal with the kid. So, are you saying we should have told the mother to stay home? Only come if she could find someone to watch the kid?

      • are we sure that all he did was say “Amen”. Where you there? Did you witness this account?

        Oh ok you are taking the mother’s word for it? Well lets hope she is right otherwise this is very poor of you to represent this church in a negative light.

        • Ah, but the church not only didn’t contest her story, but has as much as admitted to it. But they didn’t want their “guests” disturbed!

  10. Damaris says:

    Wow. The thing I find most appalling is the sentence the “church” offered in response: “It is our goal at Elevation to offer a distraction free environment for all our guests.” Almost every word shows a skewed perspective. “Our goal” — Whose goal? “Offer” — Who are they to offer? This sounds more like a marketing statement from a CEO in charge of a company than the words of a servant of the God of holiness. “A distraction free environment” — How do they know what I find distracting? Chances are their music, decor, and order of service would prove a distraction for me, but ultimately what I find distracting is within myself — that annoying chatterer in my mind that never stops. If I had been there, the noise Jackson made might have been the very thing God had sent to save me from my internal distractions and remind me of Himself.

    And finally, “guests” — frankly, I can’t imagine a more offensive word. I am not your guest! It’s not your church, and you’re not having me over for a bit while you entertain me. I can imagine how I would feel if I came home one day and my husband and children greeted me with, “Ah, Mrs. Zehner. How nice you stopped by. Please step in for a moment — oh, and would you mind leaving your shoes there? Now, what can we do for you?” That’s just what this “environment” is doing to the members of the body of Christ when it calls them guests in their own home.

    • Somebody once compared visiting a church to being the ‘+1’ at somebody else’s family reunion. You’re welcome to eat the food, and people will smile at you, but nobody really wants you there.

      I felt sick when I saw the word ‘guest.’ When I go to church it’s as the son of the host, and my job is to make sure everyone else is not only welcome, but wanted. Even if it is my first time in the door.

    • L. Lindquist says:

      It was the word “guest” I found most troubling as well.

      We’re family.

    • Thanks Damaris, that’s exactly what I meant by cultural exegesis.

    • The statement made me cringe as well. Presumably, I should attend “Elevation Church,” because I will be given a well-produced ‘presentation’ which will foster an ‘experience’ that will ‘uplift me’?

      Speaking in the most cynical terms, I suppose that all churches do this to some degree (even if they’re theologically astute enough to realize how dreadful an idea it is). But can we at least pretend that its not all about me? We can get a little higher by aiming, yes?

      I behave, and I’m successful by most middle-American standards. I’m also self-absorbed and blind as a bat, spiritually-speaking. For heaven’s sake, distract me. I need it.

      Far more importantly, what about the needs of the man with cerebral palsy? And his mother, who needs–maybe more than him even–to just be welcomed and not made to feel alone? The uncaring statements are bad enough, but pile on top of that all the unspoken exclusions….

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      “It is our goal at Elevation to offer a distraction free environment for all our guests.”

      Buzzword Bingo!

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      I am another one for whom the word “guests” jumped out. But I think you are misinterpreting it. This is not, I think, “guest” in the older sense of someone invited into your parlor for tea and little cakes. It is “guest” as used by the “hospitality industry”: paying customers who require distraction-free comfort lest they take their business elsewhere.

    • “It is our goal at Elevation to offer a distraction free environment for all our guests.”

      A certain mega where I was consulting had a “guest services” department. I said, wow, you have that many new visitors to warrant a whole department with 40 employees. No, the “guests” were the members! That tells us how skewed things are.

      So, the members are guests who come to see professional Christians perform? That is what I came to believe about most mega churches.

    • it’s the whole “distraction” thing for me. it’s like church is supposed to be some euphoric state or something. God forbid someone or something might break you out of your narcisistic trance.

      • wait a minute… you mean it is the actual members of the church who are called “guests”?? that is just too far removed for me to even contemplate. how on earth did a congregation come to this?

  11. Building a stage is the first step downwards….

  12. I got a sick feeling reading that. I’m not suprised. While trying to reconcile how we “do” church–the pastor on a stage and flocks largely sitting there unaffected but comfy and content–I want to spit at this too. For years, I read the account of the first church in Acts, of the life of disciples walking alongside Jesus, and I dismissed much of it because this is 2011, or 1999, or 1987. I honestly think if we all would do as Jesus said (Love God, Love Other People) we would probably do church differently. Because my neighbors are poor and dying outside the pretty church building–because my neighbors are homeless and disabled–meek and marginalized. My neighbors are not my friends, relatives and rich neighbors who can return favor to me, but they are the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind (Luke 14:12-13).

    I pray Jesus distracts us some more–and that we see Him in the distraction.

  13. William C says:

    A quick visit to “THE CODE” page on the church’s web site reveals much.

    Perhaps the most distressing is #5:

    We Need Your Seat – We will not cater to personal preference in our mission to reach this city. We are more concerned with the people we are trying to reach than the people we are trying to keep.

    Wow – you can’t make this stuff up. How sad. But, why should we be surprised when in evangelical doublespeak grace = works righteousness?

    • “THE CODE” is And a business plan for a start-up widget manufacturer or consulting firm. It is all me-me-me-me-me.

      And they don’t “DO” ministry? Makes sense…how many new spotlights and sub-woofers could that messy and boring “feeding the homeless” group buy???

      “There’s no business like show business the best business I know. Everything about it is appealing…”

    • what does “reach” mean?

    • Yup, and

      #9 : “We are all about the numbers”

      That pretty much explains it.

      The code also has no expressions of brokenness or humility before God.

    • Brendan H says:

      ok ,that’s just wrong.

  14. Chad Williams says:

    I guess what really gets me is she asked to meet with the pastor and then wants to bring in a reporter and camera crew. As a minister these types of meetings are handled privately and without fanfare. The need so many people have these days, in wanting to make every thing a public spectacle by involving the media from the outset, is a major reason it is hard to make contact with people in leadership at all levels. What ever happened to settling disagreements in private and between the parties affected?

    • It is my understanding that she went to the staff first and asked to start a special needs ministry and was turned down.

      • Go to another church.

        • Point is, she shouldn’t have to.

          • I wasn’t only referring to the lack of accomodation for the child. I was primarily referring to the church’s self description.

            “Elevation Church has a passion to see those far from God filled with life in Christ. It’s an explosive, phenomenal movement of God – something you have to see to believe.”

            “It’s…. SHOWTIME!”

            (Run – don’t walk – away!)

            YMMV

      • Chad Williams says:

        I heard that also in TV report. In my denomination, we have a ministry that is along the lines she aksed to start and it does good work. That being said, not every church can offer this type of program, not even a megachurch, as it requires such an investment of resources. The cash investment is the simplest part of the equation. Finding people to staff and the training of voluenteers is the hardest. The legal requirements of the workers and more demanding than working with children, at least here in Virginia. So without knowing all their reasons I can not be too hard on the church for not wanting to start the program. Perhaps they could partner with a para-church group that deals with disabled people?

        • Can you expand on the question of legal requirements? Does a church need to jump through special hoops just to have a ministry where people talk to or provide basic assistance to persons with disabilities?

          • Chad Williams says:

            From my understanding in working with disabled peoples, particularly mentally disabled, you have to have numerous hours of mandated training every year, there must be a certain percentage of the leaders who must posess a degree in an appropriate field(psychology for example), background checks on every worker involved in the program(this includes everyone from the head person down to the janitor.) And these check are simiular to the one performed on a police officer during the hiring phase. As you can imagine the insurance for such a undertaking is outrageously high. So this would have been a major undertaking for even a large church. In many ways, I can understand thier reluctance to start this type of ministry. It also allows the goverment to get involved in many asspects of the church. I believe if the state would back off and let us as the church operate independently , without all the burdensome regulations they impose, there would be more compassion ministries operating today. In the mean time, I think a para-church ministry is the best option for a church wanting to work in this field.

          • Radagast says:

            Chad,

            We’re talking church here – not a program. If things were that strict you would need trained staff anytime a person with a disability walked into a supermarket…

        • Chad, I respect that you want to give this church the benefit of the doubt, but this incident was inexcusable and representative of a terribly skewed mindset regarding church and worship. Period.

          • I think that church is too hip for me and I would not fit in well….. I probably would have left with the mother and child

          • Chad Williams says:

            I admit the mindset is messed up. To say all they focus on is a worship experience is so wrong on many levels. But this incident could have been handled in a much more delicate manner. Not sure on the specific methods that could have been used, as I am not to tactfull myself on most days. There is a fine line in being kind and understanding to people such as this family and trying to respect all the others in a church setting. I truly hope this come across in the manner I intended it too.

          • Chad Williams says:

            Sorry for the typos, y’all. My brain has not kicked in this morning. Have a great day.

    • Dan Crawford says:

      Let’s not forget how the problem started. Any thoughts on the pastor’s responsibility? Or is the woman just another one of those trouble-makers?

  15. A story I saw on t.v. last year came to my mind when reading this.

    A man sitting next to his disabled and very sick child in the hospital, day in and day out. Begging for God to please allow his son to live. Sadly, I do not remember the sickness or disease, however that is not the point of the story. The man had “tried” god in his early years, but decided it wasn’t really for him. He lived his adult life for success and had succeeded, he had the job title, the money, the houses, the cars, the vacations, the respect from his peers, etc. What he didn’t have was a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. This was to change as he sat in that hospital room.

    Later in the program, they showed this father and son (yes he lived) in a park, the son in a chair, unable to speak or respond and the father started singing a hymn. The Spirit coming alive on that boys face brought tears to my eyes. He had more substance and faith to him than most of us do today.

  16. I would have walked out with them, no person should ever prevent a child from participating in an Easter celebration (or any Christian celebration), that’s just evil. Especially when they want to be there, I could understand a five year old throwing a fit in the back pews. I’ve sat through a few Masses where I’ve wanted to eject some peoples children (especially the one who kicked the back of the pew I was sitting in for the whole Mass).

    But this?

    It’s just evil, it’s the real message of Sodom and Gomorrah, which was about hospitality. They violated the core of the Gospel with this one…

    Disgusting, there’s no way to even remotely defend the position…

    -Paul-

    • Radagast says:

      Actually you can usually tell the personality of the Church or paster by whether they have a cry room (to segregate the little trouble makers (wink)). Actually when my pastor hears the little voices (no, not the ones in his head) he usually goes out of his way to put the family at ease saying something to the effect of “its so good to hear the voices of the next generation of parishioners”. Ido remember though being at a church on vacation that made it a point to alert folks to the cry room.

      I have a few of my own and have always made it a point to keep my family intact in Church so that the little ones can see how to act through the older ones (sometimes they go through the motions so well I have to stop the eucharitic minister from giving them communion before their time).

      • I was at a church once where a teen mum was having trouble controlling her young baby. She got all sorts of glares from around the church. The pastor saw what was going on and said, ‘Don’t worry dare. Let your child cry. It’s good to know someone in this building is still alive.’

    • “especially the one who kicked the back of the pew I was sitting in for the whole Mass”

      That was me and my brothers and sister when we were small. One of my brothers used to climb on, under and over the pews 🙂

      Everyone has been like that as a small kid at Mass (and if you tell me you weren’t, what kind of prodigy of infant piety were you?) If we’d all been turned away at an early age as a distraction, there wouldn’t be anyone sitting in a church right this minute.

  17. From the Pastors Blog

    If you look throughout the Bible, you’ll notice a striking trend:
    God has an affinity for the overlooked and unlikely.

    irony alert……

    Yet, as quick as I want to be outraged, I also have to understand that my faults and shortcomings are just as glaring to others, just not always to me.

  18. I’ve served n ministry for some time now, and I’ve seen “distractions” defined in different ways. The pastor I came up in ministry under once saw a mom with a crying baby leaving a worship service during his sermon, and said from the pulpit, “Miss, please don’t feel like you have to leave because your baby is crying. Your baby is a miracle, formed by God, and his crying is music to me. If it’s not music to the people around you, then they need to check their own spiritual pulse. Besides, if I can’t out-preach a crying baby, then I need to just quit.” The church applauded, and the people sitting near this mom encouraged her to sit back down, if she wanted. She did, and the baby was quiet the instant she sat.

    Another pastor I served under was so rattled by crying babies (he had no children) that he once announced four Sundays in a row, as he was about to begin his sermon, that “Crying children should be taken into the lobby or the nursery, because you never know except that your child’s crying may distract someone who needs salvation today.” Eventually, the Elders, all of whom had children, told him how incensed their wives were over his comments, and he never mentioned it again.

    My own nephew is a high-functioning autistic individual who never really had any behavior issues that would disrupt a worship service, but Sunday School teachers found it difficult to relate to him as a child. His parents left the church for several years because of it. Now, as an adult, he proudly will tell you that he is a Catholic, and he attends Mass regularly. He doesn’t take communion, and understands that he would need to go through catechism to do so. He enjoys the worship, and participates in the liturgy. And he has a child-like faith….Is there any other prerequisite for being part of the Kingdom? I don’t think so…

    • Dan Crawford says:

      Why doesn’t he take communion? I’ve known autistic and retarded persons who take communion. They may not be able to carry on a learned discourse on the ways that Christ is present in the bread and wine, but they know he is there. Someone needs to talk to his priest. If the priest has problems he needs to speak with someone in his diocesan office.

      • Radagast says:

        Because he may not have gone through the steps to become officially Catholic – not because he has a disability.

        • Exactly. Now, he would have nooooo problem completely memorizing the catechism. He retains an extraordinary amount of knowledge. He would have difficulties with some of the concepts of spirituality, though. Honestly, I don’t think my nephew would be turned away from the communion table at his church, because the priests are very compassionate there; I do think that he would be more than a little anxious about being in front of the crowd, though. Overall, I would say Buddy chooses to not take communion. He isn’t denied it.

          It’s interesting to note that Buddy doesn’t like crowds or large social-type events, but he enjoys the mass very much. I think he finds great peace there.

      • My son also has high-functioning autism. Although he is not a baptized believer, takes communion on Sundays. I decided several years ago that I’d let him take communion and use it as a time to explain why we take communion rather than fight with him every week about why he couldn’t eat the bread and drink the juice. I started with, this is a special time when we tell God “thank you”. Lately, I’ve expanded it to, there’s three things we say when we take communion: thank you, God; I love you, God; and I need you, God.

        No one seems to mind. 🙂

  19. RyanEdward says:

    “Go to Skye’s blog and read the account of how they handled a similar situation in a congregation where he preached. See an example of what church really looks like.” – maybe I missed it, what specific blog is it? I’ve been to the pastors blog but am missing the title you’re speaking of…

  20. For a large church, saying that you had a bad experience with a church usher on Easter Sunday is like saying you had a bad experience with a seasonal employee at the mall on Black Friday.

    • Agreed. As Damaris pointed out, the church statement is much more disturbing than the actions of the usher, and perhaps provide the context that explain the usher’s actions.

  21. Scott Miller says:

    “What are we communicating about the church, God’s Kingdom, and the character of God himself, if people with special needs are not fully welcomed? ”

    Actually, quite a bit. The poor, homeless, and special needs need not apply.

    Many years ago, at a huge megachurch here in Wichita, KS, a scraggly dressed homeless man came to the church office during a big pastors conference. He asked if they could help him, he was out of work and now homeless. They gave him the contact number of the government assistance. They pointed to the pay phone in the hall. He said that he did not have change to make a call. The secretary shrugged and said it was not their policy to give out money. The homeless guy wandered into the back of the sanctuary where the pastors conference was being held, and sat and listened to the music. He was escorted out by the ushers.
    The music ended and it was time for the main speaker. There was a noticeable gap in the program. Then a bedraggled homeless guy came out from backstage, threw off his rags to reveal a nice suit and began taking the pastors to task on the way he had been treated. Amen!

    • Chad Williams says:

      I have heard of other ministers doing this. I have been tempted to try this, but never could find the right time. But the insights it would give a person would of tremendous help. As they say, “untill you walk a mile in the other man’s shoes.”

    • AWESOME! There is an excellent educator here in out area that does something similar…sits in the crowd dressed like a gang-banger and making rude comments while his assistant, in a suit, is introduced as the speaker. It is quite a shock when the “gangata” with the do-rag and bling transforms into Dr. Adolph Brown. He has a knack for breaking down walls and sterotypes (and btw, he has a daughter with CP as well).

    • I once belonged to a church where a young man attended. He was sometimes late. He was dressed in jeans and had longer hair.

      People would poke each other when he arrived and murmer about how he should show some respect to God by dressing properly and getting there on time.

      On the 3rd week of this, my husband and I walked up to him after service and introduced ourselves. It turned out that this young man was a Street Minister and had been out all night working with drunks and pimps etc. he was late sometimes because he had to finish with someone. Of course his clothes made him fit in out on the street. I learned a lesson not to assme that all is how I thought it wasby how things looked.

      He was one of the most Christian people I have known.

  22. Suffer the children to come unto me,Jesus was criticized for associating with sinners. Another Michael, last name Yaconelli, wrote abook called Messy Spirituality, that deals with questions like this.

  23. It’s not just megachurches that have a problem.

    I used to attend a Southern Baptist church, that was started out ministering to college students. But lo and behold, what do you do when those college students start marrying and having children? I think that this might be an issue with many college churches that grew and that didn’t know how to handle parents with children.

    I remember small meetings, when my little girl would want to play with me, and the pastor basically told me annoyingly to “take care of her.”

    At this same church, when one of our kids had a 100+ fever and we stayed home, we were later rebuked by the pastor and his wife, for not bringing our kids to church anyway. Had we brought our daughter to church, we would have been expected to take care of her off to the side of the child care area of the church.

    This is all to say, that there are chuches out there, who think that kids are the problem. They are absolutely not invested in Sunday School, because ultimately, the only reason you have Sunday School, is to provide baby sitting for the parents. So, they plant the kids in a corner in front of a veggie tales cartoon. They don’t see our kids as little people who need to receive God’s word and who need to learn about their father God. Children are seen as obstacles to “real (adult) ministry.” Is it any wonder that kids who go to church, are more likely to turn away from God as a result.

    More recently at my new church, a Vineyard, I was totally refreshed and blessed to see how they handle these same issues. At our small group, the kids would periodically interrupt, even interrupt during prayer, but we were never made to feel guilt or like lousy parents, or unspiritual people, we just rolled with it, and (with our eyes open for our kids), the person praying thanked God for the joy and happiness of our children. It was affirming and grace giving to know that even in this crazy parental moments, that we have a God who loves us. As a parent, this is when I often feel like I most need God.

    • One of the reasons I have heard for “Children’s Church” is so they won’t interrupt or interfere with the main worship service. When my church eliminated Children’s Church and welcomed entire families to worship together, one of the main complaints before it happened was that children in worship would disrupt it!

      I am one of those people who think that a crying baby is the sound of grace. Weddings where children are not allowed because they might interfere with the ‘best day of the bride’s life’ make me wonder about the future of the marriage.

      • Footage from a General Audience in February of this year.

        Also, this from a prayer vigil in 2010, which reminds me of myself at that age (seriously, I did the whole ‘if I shuffle slowly over on my knees, no-one will notice at all’ bit when I was about three or four at a Mass) 🙂

  24. Disgusting story…just disgusting. Several points as this hit close to home.

    I have a loved one in my family recovering from schizophrenia. I love her dearly and I always will. My parents and the rest of my family is behind her and will be her biggest cheerleader. However it has been a long and difficult journey. It also required some re-examination of once held beliefs. At one time in my life when I thought of mentally ill people, or individuals on disability I thought they were lazy, pretending to be disabled or trying to coast by in life. I also listened to Rush Limbaugh at the time (is there forgiveness for this….?) and belived what he said about welfare people.

    Then my sister came down ill with schizophrenia. I started to get these phone calls from her when she was experiencing psychosis. My Mom flew across the country to care for her, and I was confused and worried about her well being. As I type here about it i can still remember the frantic paranoia in her voice in her phone call from the hospital where she was telling me she was going to be killed. It turned me world upside down, and it challenged my thinking about mental illness and other disabilities. Later I became involved with NAMI – National Allaince for the Mentally Ill. When I lived in the upper mdiwest and was involved in NAMi I had learned that a homeless man that I saw sitting or wondering around the area was someone’s son in the support group I was involved in. I was stunned.

    But getting back to church I would hope this doesn’t happen regularly, yet let’s be honest. Many evangelcials take a disposable (sp?) approach to many people in life. Who do some evangelicals toss away? Single moms, people who have committed sexual sins, gays, left leaning people, single poeple, skeptics like myself, etc.. I would venture to suggest that we can add those who are mentally or physically disabled to that list. Why? They can’t fit into the church mold and production/business cycles that drive many churches today. When faith is about numbers, shuffling off mission teams to the four corners of the earth, etc.. where does a person with down syndrome fit in? They don’t. It’s like with many chruches as I learned when I was a Christian. To be a Christian meant you had to do something. You had to run in a million different directions at the same time to keep up with the competition and be the most spiritual. I would be hit up all the time for volunterring for childrens’ programs, greeters, etc.. Sometimes on a whim I would be talking with someone and they would say, “Hey you look like you would be a good candidate for welcoming people who arrive!!” When I was not interested they lost interest in me until another person filled the position due to a high rate of turnover in greeter ministry. When church is all about this type of activity where does someone with physical or mental disabilites fit into the picture. THEY DON’T!!! 😯

    It was also interesting that in the Mormon Church I noticed a high number of disabled people…both physically and mentally. I’ve wondered if the LDS faith plays on their disability in getting them on the church records in Salt Lake. It’s also a shame because at the time I wondered if some of these people tried to plug into regular Christian faith and were they turned away due to a lack of patience or fear by Christians. Cults like the Mormons take care of disposbale baggage from Christianity. Sad but true.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      It was also interesting that in the Mormon Church I noticed a high number of disabled people…both physically and mentally. I’ve wondered if the LDS faith plays on their disability in getting them on the church records in Salt Lake.

      A lot of it is the Mormon reputation for taking care of their own. My writing partner claims that he’s seeing a lot of Mormon converts in his area because of the LDS’s internal safety nets and internal welfare system for the unemployed and disabled and widows. They’re taken care of a lot better than the usual “Be Warm and Well Fed — I’ll Pray For You (TM).”

      • Mormons do take care of each other…but look at the cost of being in such an organization. Due to legalism and perfectionsim many Mormons are affliected with depression and anxiety. Utah leads the US in problems with depression. Between the strict life, strict image, and maintaining it…man it takes its toll. Its late but remind me to tell you a story I know of a Mormon who relatives car broke down and the lengths in which the Mormons took care of his family.

        • This happened about 20 yeras ago. I knew a guy who converted to Mormonism and attended Brigham Young University. He was the only Mormon in his family. Well his family was driving to visit him and were 2 states away, when their car broke down. They went to a payphone and the parents called their son late in the evening. The son called his Mormon Bishop and told him what happened to his parents 2 states away. Through the church the Mormon Bishop called the Mormon Bishop in the middle of the night who was closest to the broken down car. That Mormon Bishop had both a tow truck operator and car repair/gas station owner in his ward (congregation for those who don’t speak Mormon), and in the middle of the night he called them, woke them up and told them that the parents of a church member were stranded in a broken car. They got out of bed the tow truck operator towed the car to the gas station/car repair shop which was opened up in the middle of the night to see if it was quick repair. It was not, the car repair/gas station owner put up the parents in their home for the night and then fixed the car the next day and had them on their way. The parents were none the less amazed. Neat story…but it pales if you hear the ugly stuff.

          • “the ugly stuff” is there, right next to the pantheistic fantasy and two doors down from the writings of a world-class grifter.

            Squeaky clean families and Stepford communities are the perfect cover for abuse, lies, and life-long facades.

            Mormons are many things, but they are not Christians…..and pretty, shiny packages can hold rotting refuse and infection.

            Sorry, but I have had enough of the mainstream media holding Mormons up as a Christian denomination, a misconception they work hard to maintain.

          • Pattie I wish I could like your comments!! Mormons are projected as being honest, when in reality they can be quite dishonest. Joseph Smith in all his charachter flaws couldn’t survive todays standards…but it’s okay to exempt him.

  25. As a person with disabilities who has faced issues of my own within congregations, I understand the frustration of this family. I understand too, the desire to direct all the anger at Elevation Church and its leadership. But I would caution that instead, we would take this as a constructive opportunity to look at how we ourselves and the churches we belong to treat disabled persons. We can’t force Elevation Church to do anything differently, but we can affect how we handle these kinds of situations in our own daily lives.

  26. Dan Crawford says:

    Elevation Church operates from a theology which doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously. It may consider itself Christian but even the most superficial reading of the Gospel shows Elevation Church hasn’t a clue. The only Elevation to be found in the place is its elevated sense of its own righteousness and importance. People who take the Gospel seriously would have no difficulty recognizing what a fraud it perpetrates.

    • That is interesting since he has spoken at a few Acts 29 events and I’m pretty sure they and Driscoll take the gospel pretty serious.
      Maybe do some better research and don’t jump to conclusions?

      • dumb ox says:

        Driscoll and gospel? Perhaps Driscoll and macho-man legalism. When I first saw this article, Driscoll came to mind. It all smacks of “radical” Christianity. Throw everyone under the bus for the sake of the mission and wretched urgency. If any whiners complain, tell them to suck it up.

  27. @Chap Mike: this is WAY off topic, but while browsing on elevation’s web site, I found this under the visioncasting category; this whole topic of vision and visioncasting might deserve its own thread at some point, IMO

    You know the vision has become ingrained when you don’t have to be there in person to ingrain it. Your leaders have so internalized it that when they’re there, it’s as if you’re there. And it’s even better.

    The solution: Regularly force your people to articulate the vision in the context of their specific area of responsibilities. To you. To the staff. And to the people they oversee. The more they do, the more they’ll understand it, own it, and spread it. And the more your people will love and believe in the vision, not just the chief vision caster.

    I’ve live thru this kind of church, btw in the late 70’s and 80’s and what a horror story that is/was. Furtick has a communications background, my head guy back then was the son of millionaire business guy. Hmmmmm

    GregR

    • What are you talking about Greg? I have no idea what Vision Casting is…. Can you explain please?

      • My attempt at a definition (in a niche that is NOT me) of ” visioncasting” would be the teaching, transfer, and transmittal of the vision in question. Notice the urgency and care in the comments above to not only UNDERSTAND the vision, but to own it, and be able to communicate it in your own terms, or terms that a different audience can appreciate. So it’s knowing, owning, and communicating/multiplying the “vision” or directive of the…..church,company, institution, etc. that’s my rough take on it, but I dont’ speak “business-ese” very well, I’ll admit.

        GregR

        • I looked at the church’s page titled “The Code” and I’m not sure I could explain half of it. Yikes. Must be that communications background of his.

          • Copy that: and if a reasonably smart 5th grader can’t understand it, RUN , IMO; many “select” christian groups operate off of a special vocabulary to add to the ‘revolutionary” or “radical” appeal. And it’s seen as way cool.

            GregR

  28. Hi

    Thanks for sharing this! Since I am disabled (deaf) this article strikes close to home for me. Withou boring anyone with a history lesson, disability has been largely misunderstood since the begining of time. Refer to Jesus’ response to to his disciples regarding the cause of a man’s blindness – it’s tempting to seek direct cause for which there may be none.

    The Lutheran in me says that the theology of the Cross means we minister to one another in the weakness of the flesh. God seems to enjoy baffling us by speaking through people we’d never think would be touched by God.

    With regards to healing, I’m all for it provided that it is a mutual effort and not simply the pious efforts of parents or family. Healing is a very real possibilty but, unfortunately, cannot be made to manifest itself upon command. I could say a whole lot about that but it’s another discussion.

    Thanks for sharing and for bringing to light what disabled people may contibute to the kingdom.

    Yuri

  29. This statement appears in the Mr. Furtick’s blog for June 14.

    “When you honor the people around you, it glorifies God.”

    Um, yeah. Practicing what you preach might be good here. The question I have is, if that church is willing to push aside a disabled child on Easter, would they throw out Tiny Tim on Christmas?

    • Radagast says:

      Or does that statement mean (Mr Furtick speaking) “Honor us when we’re in your presence, because we’re like God” – OK I’m stretching things a bit…

  30. Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends……………….

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      …..We’re so glad you could attend
      Come inside! Come inside!

      Come inside — the shows about to start!
      Guaranteed — to blow your head apart!

      • HUG, I won’t post them, but your comment compelled me to think of the lyrics to “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” (That ‘d be from the Sgt. Pepper album, for you young’uns)

        CM, the way you began the post was superb. Gripping lede. I’ve thought it often while reading here, so I’ll say it: You’re really quite a good writer.

        • Radagast says:

          Pilar – your showing your age… but can you point out all the symbolism on the album that PAUL IS DEAD?

          • No, Radagast, but thinking about it brings back good memories.
            By the way, as a sometime EM, I loved your comment elsewhere here about your having to stop the EMs from giving your kids the Eucharist, since they go through the motions so well. I can picture that perfectly.

        • All I could think of was the lyrics to “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by The Who. From the rock opera “Tommy” (deaf dumb and blind boy, lives in a quiet vibration land…)

          Welcome to the camp,
          I guess you all know why we’re here.
          My name is Tommy
          And I became aware this year.

          If you want to follow me
          You’ve got to play pinball.
          So, put in your earplugs,
          Put on your eyeshades,
          You know where to put the cork!

  31. Sounds like Jesus did show up and got kicked out. It’s really a shame this group and so many like it have hijacked the words “church” and “Christian” to mislead people into thinking they’re something other than what they are.

    If Jesus showed up looking exactly like He did when He was here on earth (not like a pretty European man wearing a silk ball gown, as depicted in the well-known Jesus knocking at the door painting), and behaved like He did when He was here the last time, He’d be thrown out yet again.

    This may be religion, but it’s model is not Jesus.

  32. Wow. Thanks for sharing this story. I think the key point coming through this discussion is that the church is the House of God. Who He calls should be joyfully welcomed to come. I’ve read so many stories of poor souls whose first experience at a church was unpleasant, where they felt overlooked or not welcomed, that they never came back and have a distaste for Christianity as a result. Even in my own experience in high school, the local Christian youth group were so conceited and obnoxious, I remember thinking, “if that’s what a Christian is, I don’t want to be a Christian”.

    How hard is it to remember that we are Christ’s ambassadors? We are Christ to those who don’t know Him yet, and we should conduct ourselves in love as such.

  33. Yikes! Here is the formula: 1 unfortunate situation handled poorly by a church plus a blog post and one sided news story, mix in some readers who enjoy hating on alternative church service styles and you have this whole mess.

    Was anyone actually there? Do we know that it was one small outburst? Did you listen to the end of the news story where it said the pastor was trying to get training for special needs children for his staff?

    I think this blog post and anyone who buys this one sided view is very naive. Lets make sure our own house is in order. With judgement like this from Christians jumping to conclusions who needs actual persecution from any other source?

    Looks like some angst has been stirred up and Elevation Church and Furtick are receiving the brunt of everyone’s pent up angst.

    • Unfortunately for those of us with special needs children it is all too easy to know that even if this article is one-sided it is happening over and over again in churches across the country that are simply too small to garner this kind of attention. Parents of bi-polar children asked not to bring their child back to church, parents told they cannot have their children in the main worship service (that isn’t limited to special needs, folks).

      I have been fortunate. We have never been kicked out, and I am part of a church that loves my children and celebrates the individuality of each person in all our messiness. I’ve also been to churches where it was evident that the adults in charge of the children truly did not care whether my child was ministered to or not.

      So yes, there is a lot of backlash against Elevation (I throw up in my mouth a little every time I type that name), but I think perhaps it is because there are many of us finally saying ‘enough is enough’, when do our children get to be the ‘least of these’ that the church starts to care about? This incident just happens to be the tipping point.

      • Very well said, esp. your phrase “this incident just happens to be the tipping point.” Church as some kind of ‘worship experience’ that does not adequately allow for the jacksons of the world is happening all over the ev. world. We need a better demonstation (and I mean WE, including me) of the body of Christ, WHO made time for chidren and women …. gasp..

      • I repeat my comment again:
        Did you listen to the end of the news story where it said the pastor was trying to get training for special needs children for his staff?

        Its sad and painful that in the sinful world we live in that people don’t always treat each other right. It seems that the pastor is trying to make this right by helping his staff understand better how to be sensitive to special needs children that may come to their church, but that doesn’t make for a compelling article. We’d rather just sit back and bash our fellow Christians.

        • Jonathan says:

          JIm, may I kindly suggest you spend just a tad more time pondering the comments here about the disgusting way “our fellow Christians” with special needs are often treated by those who claim to represent the Lord Jesus? I can think of stronger words than “unfortunate.”

        • I admit that what I know about Elevate could fit on a 1 gal milk bottle but I think his (Furtlick’s) philosophy of excellence is going to continually go “clash” with messy reality, special needs kids included. I’m sure he has compassion for all kinds of kids and people, but when push comes to shove, will it be people and their needs who win out, or “excellence in the worship experience….”

          I don’t know the answer, but this kind of thing will show up until that tension is resolved.
          There are also other values on their website that are , as I see it, frought with problems as well, including and especially the fixation on numerical growth, and what seems to be more focus on getting new members than caring (pastoring, discipling) the existing ones. These are the observations of someone from the outside reading their info bytes, but I think much of what Damaris said above has traction.

          Pax
          GregR

        • Oh, I heard it. But I’m enough of a cynic that when a church that basically runs like a business talks about getting their staff training for special needs kids I hear ‘damage control sensitivity training that makes us look better but doesn’t change anything’. And maybe I’m wrong. I certainly hope that I am. Given their focus on providing the perfect worship experience, though, I’m pretty sure the root problem isn’t going to change.

    • cermak_rd says:

      To be honest I haven’t read any actual criticism of the alternative church styles here. used at Elevation here. What’s alternative about them?

      • If you read through the comments here there are mentions of “stage” “show” in a negative light. Personal preference, we all have to watch our ministry idolatry here.

  34. This is one of those very delicate situations that has to be handled with kid gloves that needs a balance. I have seen both sides of the story where the parents are trying their best to care for their handicapped child to address their outbursts and I have even seen the parents who use the handicapped child’s outbursts in church to gain recognition, additional sympathy, or in some extreme cases, handouts.

    If the child did the “outburst” once or twice and the parents are responding and attempting to calm the child down and are able to do so, then the child should remain. But the ushers should be observant and notice what is going on.

    If the child did the “outburst” once or twice and the parents seem to not care or are too caught up in the charismania of the service, the usher needs to approach the parents and discreetly asks the parents to address the child and offer assistance to help if possible. If the parents address the issue, fine. If not, tactfully deal with the situation by asking the parents to remove the child from the sanctuary and offer use of an overflow room or the narthex

    If the child continues the “outburst” and seems to be going out of control and the parents are trying to calm the child down but are unsuccessful, the ushers need to have the power to ask the parents to remove the child and offer use of an overflow room or the narthex.

    The usher should never touch the child nor their crutches/wheelchairs. Some psychologists who deal with handicapped children go as far as equating touching the crutches/wheelchairs almost to the point of inappropriate touching of a child.

    It even opens up other issues such as the woman who for some understandable reason (visitors who don’t trust the “strangers” in the nursery or past sexual abuse in a church nursery setting) does not trust the nursery / childrens church workers and brings the children into the church who start constantly crying during the service. Or how about the mom with the two toddlers who let the children get boisterous to eventually wander into the aisles causing a disruption? What does the church do in these situations?

    I’m not a fan of Elevation Church. I find their style of worship horrible. But I really hope that the church (and the mother involved) does follow through in obtaining training and both parties learn something from this. But I am deeply afraid that what will happen is that the church will schedule the training, postpone the training over and over again due to “Scheduling conflicts” and eventually not pursue the training when the bad press dies down and everyone has forgotten about what happened.

    • Chad Williams says:

      You have stated in a much more concise manner than I was able to write earlier in the day. When you speak of the toddlers running the aisles, that brings up a real sore spot with me. It seems to be a more common happening these days, you see it in church and in the general public. I tried to behave like that a few times as a kid and my mother tanned my backside real good. I learned real quick to sit down and be still and quiet.

      • Radagast says:

        Agreed on that point….

        That does bring up a whole nuther topic on parenting style – specifically the lack of parenting I have seen especially in the last few years – but part of that problem is us – the parents of these parents who give them everything, never let them fail, and in turn they don’t take responsibility for anything and leave the disipline of their own children to someone else while they put them on a pedestal. Ok – I’ll get off my soap box – but I have been watching this trend get worse over the last 10 years (my other job is running a religious education program for grades 1 – 8)…

        • I generally believe that the church should be as accomodating as possible.

          When I am church, and when on the occasion, we sit in the main service, we always try to sit near the back, so that we don’t distract as many other people. My kids can be difficult and so we plan accordingly.

          However, I don’t necessarily understand the mentality of some parents, who ( I know are regular church goers and not visitors), and need to sit in the front, where their children can provide a maximum amount of disruption (when they walk around or cry). This has nothing to do with a church being/or not being accomodating towards parent with children, and everything to do with parents, lacking simple consideration for their fellow congregants. I am not angry or upset about it, but its just an observation.

  35. (Beware of Sarcasm coming up)

    How in the world did people heard the gospel for 2000 years with all of those distractions like no A/C, No sound systems, no nurseries, no electricity, no written words/being illiterate, no chairs/pews, no security (threat of persecution) and no coffee bars?

    In all seriousness, I actually think Furtick/Elevation is trying to handle it right in the aftermath. Who knows it could have been a mistake because we weren’t there. It still doesn’t speak well in the first place but grace needs to be given because maybe through this they can be more Christ-like to those given different gifts of God.

  36. OK, combining this post and the earlier rant on congregational meetings, I can remember a church-wide meeting where the pastor opened it to the floor, asking for comments and questions from anyone, or to see if they have a word from the Lord. “D”, the middle aged blind guy who also has chronic mental disabilities, raises his hand:
    “Paastuur, I haave a question.”
    Yes, “D”?
    “Why did the mermaid wear seeea-shellls?”
    Well, I don’t know D-
    “Because she was too big for B- shells.”

    Everyone needs a congregational meeting like that.

  37. Wow I hope that was sarcastic.

    MOD: Comment this was written in reply to deleted as offensive.

  38. May I just remind you that we are all them, even if we don’t sound like muppets from a home.

    MOD: comment edited and comment this was written in reply to deleted as offensive.

  39. Christiane says:

    This makes me sad.
    I have a beautiful picture of two priests administering Holy Communion to my son who has Down Syndrome.
    He is smiling in that picture.

    People don’t understand . . . that is what makes me so sad. Our Lord didn’t see children as ‘distractions’ and He would not have sent that child out of the assembly. I have a feeling that Our Lord was there that day, but when the little boy was sent out, Our Lord went with him.

    Rejection is a terrible thing for any of us . . . but for some in our world, it is worse than for most

  40. I wish we knew more about the situation but what we do know is that the church has issued a statement, not an apology. The part of the statement that says they’re planning on sending their workers to training of some sort reminds me of celebs who go to rehab when they’ve been caught in bad behavior. Just looked at the church’s website kind of hoping they had updated their statement — don’t see any mention of it. But I did see that in 3 of the 4 banner ads, the pastor is featured:

    The Elevation Experience
    with Pastor Steven Furtick

    Summer Student Trip
    with Pastor Steven Furtick

    The Elevation app
    with links to pastor Stevens latest blog post

    Seems clear who the star of the show is.
    Sad.

  41. dumb ox says:

    Most churches are ill-equipped to minister to special needs children. I hear that first-hand from parents of these children. I would hope that all that is needed is love, patience, and acceptance, but these families are under extreme tension and stress, and many need help. I think many churches simply take a pass, claiming, “that is not our call” or “that is not our mission field”. The parents are then left to hopelessly seek out the congregation for whom they fit their calling.

    • dumb ox says:

      Jesus said, “For God so loved the world…”, not “For God so loved a key demographic”. That was the error of the religious leaders of Jesus’ time, that God had a chosen race or demographic, to which they just happened to belong.

    • Steve Newell says:

      I have been fortunate in that the current and prior Lutheran Churches that I was a member of embraced those who have special needs. Our small Lutheran Church has a Bible Study class, taught by the Pastor’s wife, for young adults with special needs. The confirmation process is also adjusted to those children who cannot participate in the tradition week night class.

      My son, who is suffering from a brain injury to an accident in a PE class, was one who could not attend the regular confirmation so the Pastor and the Director of Christian Education work with David one-on-one so that he could be confirmed.

  42. How long will we keep being fooled by ‘On Fire for Jesus and His Mission’ organizations like these that are based on a theology of glory and are more concerned with building an organization?

    After having been around the block a few times I don’t even have the energy to pretend that emperor has clothes on.

    Thanks CM for calling it like you see it.

    • Theology of glory from a church named Elevation Church? Sounds like truth in advertising.

  43. Overreact? Seems to me you’d have to be utterly inhuman not to get “so mad you can spit” over an episode like this.

  44. but, but, the numbers don’t lie…do they???

    Elevation Church has experienced over 14,000 professions of faith and over 2,400 baptisms since our launch.

    4th fastest growing church in America according to Outreach Magazine. c’mon folks. they must have the ‘anointment’ right??? God’s special favor??? they can decide who is worthy of their ‘ministry’ efforts, right???

    oy vey… 🙁

  45. You know, in hindsight, at least this church allowed Jesus to even come in the first place. In our sanctuary, we have a big sign hanging that says “No Perfect People Allowed,” so Jesus isn’t even welcome to come through the door in the first place!