I recently mentioned that we had a great service at our church this past Sunday. One of the things that made it a good service was a family that was visiting. This family happened to have two children with autism.
They gave me the heads up before the service, although I had already recognized the autism. I assured them that any sounds during the service would be fine. That was not empty talk.
I heard them during the service… and I loved it. On one hand, it reminded me of our own children. The similarities were eerie. But it was more than that.
The vision I have for church, one that I see as biblical, is one where everyone is welcome. That Sunday, we welcomed four people into membership, two of which had disabilities (one developmental and one physical).
We have another young man with autism who attends our church regularly and he makes noise. Rather than bothering me, when I hear his squeals as he enters the sanctuary, I feel like we are what we are supposed to be.
This Sunday I heard a girl sing Twinkle, Twinkle during the sermon and I smiled. Not because it was cute (although it was) but because it was a picture of what church is supposed to look like.
As a parent of two children with autism, I respect any parent who brings their family to church. Not because the autism is a problem but there is always a risk the congregation will respond badly.
Our church is not perfect but we at least do our best to make people welcome. Our goal is not to have a perfectly quiet setting for worship but a place where the love of Christ reigns.