In the conclusion of her guest blog series, Same Lake, Different Boat Stephanie Hubach shares her vision for the church in ministering to persons with disabilities. Steph’s biography may be found here, along with Part One, Part Two and Part Three of the series.
C4EC: What is your vision for the church with regard to people with disabilities?
SH: My vision is that we would see the body of Christ made whole through the inclusion of all its members. The Church as it operates today is disabled. It is attempting to function without all of its intended parts. It’s important to note here that I don’t approach special needs ministry as a “disability rights movement.” Instead, I see it as a “benefit all of the body of Christ movement.”
When the Church operates as it was intended to, life improves for all of us. In order for this to be accomplished it means two things: First, going out to where people with disabilities are, since a disproportionate number of people with disabilities and their families are un-churched. As the parable of the banquet in the gospel of Luke says, we need to go out and “bring them in.” Second, for those who are already part of the covenant community in name, but not in practice, we need to make the church a hospitable place where genuine welcoming and belonging actually takes place. Many Christians with disabilities live on the fringes of congregation life, if they are able to attend church at all.
In addition, I hope the Church will capture the urgency of its mission to people with disabilities (and their families) as a Sanctity of Human Life issue. The Church has, in recent history, equated being pro-life with being anti-abortion. But it is so much more than that. It is being “for” the life of my neighbor. The lives of people with disabilities are already becoming increasingly at risk in our culture because of the devaluation of humanity coupled with our collective unwillingness to sacrifice for others. If the Church does not “get it” soon with regard to the enormity of this problem, it will be too late. If Christians are unwilling to enter into the challenges of people touched by disability when the going is relatively easy, we are fooling ourselves if we think we will step up to the plate when the going is tough.
C4EC: How do you think the Same Lake, Different Boat DVD series can be used by churches to make that vision a reality?
SH: My prayer is that Same Lake, Different Boat will be used by the Holy Spirit to raise awareness, educate congregations, promote discussion, and—most of all—soften hearts. Whether the DVD series functions as a resource for individual Teaching Elders, Ruling Elders, and Deacons—or whether small groups or women’s ministry groups in the congregation use it as a discussion tool to challenge themselves in the area of practical Christian living—it’s time for the Church to live out “Christianity with its sleeves rolled up,” as our PCA friend Joni Eareckson Tada says.
The DVD series is, of course, based on the book…with the added benefit that I expanded the content of the DVD series to reflect things I have learned since I wrote the book. Each DVD chapter begins with interview vignettes of ministry leaders, of individuals who have disabilities, and of family members. Following a 30 minute teaching segment, each chapter concludes with additional interviews that lead into discussion questions.
Steph’s newly released DVD series, Same Lake, Different Boat: Coming Alongside People Touched by Disability can be ordered here for the discounted price of $35.00. Her book that shares the same title as her DVD series is also available here at a discounted price of $7.50. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.