Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Why Some Families Avoid Church

Ah, the Weekly Church Service

A time to serve, worship, contemplate a truth-filled sermon, regain God’s peace and joy, catch up with friends. A time to refresh, recharge, reconnect…
Unfortunately, for many foster and adoptive families, the idea of attending church surfaces only feelings of anxiety, judgment and rejection.

Why? Well There’s...

  • The child who sees only a scary room packed full of loud strangers with coffee breath and intensely-colored wardrobes because he experiences sensory disorders due to past trauma 
  • The child who perceives children’s ministry drop-off as a scary separation from new parents she’s not yet learned will always come back
  • The child who is devastated by yet another rejection by peers and even adult leaders when his behaviors and abilities don’t match the norm
  • The child who hears insensitive questions and comments like “Why can’t he live with his own parents?” or “She’s so lucky you took her in!” and feels unworthy, embarrassed and angry about another invasion of privacy
  • The parents who decide church isn’t such a safe place for their child as it only brings out fear, anxiety, over-stimulation, acting-out and repeated rejection for their child
  • The parents who decide church just isn’t a safe place for their family in the wake of judgment, pity, rejection or being put on a pedestal that’s teetering dangerously close to disaster

So, How Can Support Team Members Help Create a Welcoming, Supportive Church Environment? 

  • Teach a workshop, post a web-article or provide weekly e-tips on understanding, loving and caring for foster and adoptive kids and parents. Find ideas in past Support Team Newsletters
  • Model sensitivity when speaking about foster care, adoption and the families involved
  • Build a “Buddy” program in which trained volunteers provide the supports and attention a child needs to be successful at church. If a child does not have a "Buddy," be willing to spend time with the child so the parents may attend services
  • Provide transportation for siblings to attend church services and activities when mom and dad need to remain home with a struggling child
  • Create a Sensory Room where children (and adults) with sensory disorders can worship and learn without anxiety-inducing distractions
  • Volunteer to spend time with a child so the parents may go out to lunch with friends after church
  • Provide a resource list of books, blogs and videos to help others understand the impact of trauma, grief and loss
  • Provide a family-room worship experience. This could be a video-feed into a family-friendly room at church or joining the family for a live-stream of the service into their own family room

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