The saddest stories I hear from parents raising a child with a disability don’t involve schools, insurance companies or hospitals. The saddest story is when such a family must leave a church. The stories that elicit the most bitter words, and tears, are the ones about churches that abandon families with a disabled child because they are “just too difficult to deal with.”
This really happens.
Too many parents are told, directly and indirectly, by a pastor or church leader or Sunday School volunteer: You do not belong here. This is something no one should hear from his or her church. This is something that should never cross the lips of a ministry leader—not if they really believe what the Bible says about God’s sovereignty and good design in disability.
But hearing yet another mother’s story of how a church, over the course of years, mistreated her and her child because of disability, it became clear that there are actually some situations when it is a grace from God to feel—or actually be told—that your family is not welcome at a church.
4 Times When It’s Good to Leave a Church
1. The pastor preaches a health-and-wealth, prosperity “gospel.”
The prosperity (so-called) “gospel” isn’t just an abhorrent theology, but it is also used to abuse families experiencing disability.
After all, as these churches say, if we only had enough faith the child would not be experiencing this disability. Those kind of senseless lies have a terrible effect on families, and who can blame them if they choose to leave a church?
2. The pastor preaches social justice instead of the gospel.
This is the church that neglects the reality of sin and our need for the Savior. Ironically, these churches can often be the most accommodating because they focus on the marginal.
But families experiencing disability need more than accommodation. They need a big God who provides real hope and gives real justice, not merely a divine social worker who offers advice along the way and is frustrated the government isn’t doing more.