The advance of the novel coronavirus in Spring 2020 resulted in stay-at-home orders in most U.S. states. People have been told to maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet from others when being in public is necessary. Social distancing has become a new household term. It has also become the new normal for Americans.
Churches have had to be intentional and creative to effectively engage all their families. As you consider the families living with disability in your church, here are a couple of things you might not have thought about:
- Social distancing, while new to many, has been a regular part of life for many families touched by disability, long before the coronavirus appeared. Disability impacts life drastically. Most families are constantly trying to determine how to realistically participate in church and community life considering their circumstances and capacity.
- Many families living with disability have extensive experience being homebound. Whether due to compromised immune systems, social skill differences, mobility challenges, or other reasons, many families have had much regular practice staying home—for weeks, months, and even years.
As you consider how to effectively engage families who are impacted by disability in this unusual season, keep in mind:
- Families impacted by disability can offer wisdom and perspective on how to stay connected and how to realign expectations to new realities. When appropriate, ask your families to teach you what they have learned over the years about social distancing. They have likely had much practice and can share wisdom because they have been faithfully and quietly living this reality.
- Your families living with disability may be enjoying new opportunities to connect with others in your church from home—and may already be concerned about those avenues ending when stay-at-home orders have ended. The coronavirus crisis and its effects will not last forever. Eventually, we will all return to familiar routines of daily life. Disability, however, will not change for your families. When you return to your job, school, church, and community, they will likely remain more homebound. Consider how families living with disability are connecting virtually with your other church members and how you can keep those avenues available after stay-at-home orders have expired.
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