31/01/2014 by Chris Green
Challenge is a spin-off from WAVE. It is a weekly meet up for parents of babies or children with additional needs. It is, simply, a friendship group, offering support and love during a tough time.
You can guess what happens (although you might not guess the stuff on offer to pamper the mums – they can be spoilt for an hour). But the thinking is interesting.
This is a setting where having a baby with additional needs is normal. No-one sticks out. That’s really important, especially if your baby is visually different. But there are couple of extra twists:
- This may be the only context where such parents meet, without there being a medical agenda.
- And because the medics are removed, the parents are free to talk about normal parenting issues, like nappies, teething and discipline – those are real problems for all parents, but they often feet subsumed in all the hospital visits.
Is it overtly evangelistic or run for Christians? No. I guess a megachurch might have so many Christian parents in this category that it can run a dedicated Bible study, but that’s rarified. This is just a friendly place, held on church premises, where everything is taken slowly and gently.
But it did mean that last week at WAVE church, many of those parents were in church with their child for the first time.
One last spin-off: when there have been parents who are Christians and come to church as a family, the kids’ groups volunteers provide 1:1 support for the child in the normal children’s groups.
Given the stats, this is possibly more of an issue for people in our churches than we might suspect, and given the realities it is possibly not one we might see because most parents desperately want not to draw attention to themselves. But let’s help them with their unusually complex discipling task.