Friday, June 07, 2013

An open letter to Pastor Paul Endrei, Senior Pastor of Church on the Rise, a church for the whole family... NOT

Dear Pastor Paul;

I received your postcard advertising the Slammin' Kidz Daze water fun event at Church on the Rise. It sounds like a lot of fun if I were a kid. I have two children, so it would be a lot of fun for them... but I need to back up a bit.

My wife and I attended Church on the Rise for three years, from 2010 to 2013. In that time you had a ministry for special needs children called Special Blessings. This is the main reason why we attended the church. It was staffed by a few volunteers who, although their numbers were few, were devoted to the children under their care.

I wanted to see that ministry grow. The fact that it even existed was an anomaly in the church world- churches just weren't in the habit of taking care of autistic children, or children with other disabilities. It showed me that you were concerned about making a place for all children, and their parents too.

Special Blessings soon became the church's best kept secret. It was never promoted. There was never any mention of the ministry from the pulpit or in the bulletin. When they lost a volunteer, there was no attempt to recruit from the large number of members of the church. Sure, they would have needed some training, but that wasn't impossible, and it was something I would have gladly helped with. I came up with ideas. I filmed a video asking for volunteers while at the same time making the ministry sound attractive. Nothing.

In late January my son had a meltdown at church in which he kicked a volunteer and bashed his head against the concrete. After this incident Special Blessings was put on hiatus pending further review. We waited. And waited. And waited. No response was forthcoming from the church. Finally my wife and I just said "that's it." We wanted to be in church, but we couldn't wait around for the administrative wheels to turn when it was obvious that the Special Blessings wheels had been squeaking for awhile and had received no grease. Finally I received news that the volunteers had resigned, sensing that action from the church was never forthcoming, and the ministry was dead in the water.

You are missing a huge harvest field here, Pastor Paul. There are many, many families who can't attend church because the children's ministries are either unable or unwilling to accommodate them. Church on the Rise is a large church with many members. Surely, with a creative presentation, more volunteers could have been recruited. You could have been the leader in an area in which the church at large is sorely lacking.

I received a postcard from the church this week advertising a water play event for children that sounded like a lot of fun. Giant water slide! Inflatables! What kid wouldn't like that? You have always gone all out to provide fun things for the children, and you have obviously put a large portion of the church's budget towards that end. I certainly don't doubt that you care for children.

If you had only apportioned a sliver of that amount to a special needs ministry. If only you had included it in the bulletin once every six months. If only you had shown the video I created, one that your children's minister promised me would run, and kept promising me week after week even though it became obvious that you had no intention of running it. Was cutting the time of the service by one minute and 33 seconds that important?

The school year is over now, but I would like to invite you and any member of your staff to come visit Murray Ridge School in Elyria when school starts up again. Talk to some of the staff. Meet the children. See what kinds of needs parents such as myself are dealing with every day. Get a sense of what your church could accomplish with a little effort.

If you aren't willing to make the effort, then take "Church for the whole family" out of your promotional materials. You aren't a church for the whole family. You don't mean it.

If you reject my children, you reject me.


Blogger paul endrei said...

We actually did promote the Special Blessing Ministry to the whole Church several times! Unfortunately an autisitic child attacked a teacher and the teacher quit and so did the other volunteers! We would love to have this ministry run but without the proper help we cannot put childrens safety in jeopardy! Pastor Paul

5:36 PM  
Blogger Ann Sadder said...

Just like other main stream Christian zelots. The christian church only participates in what is popular within their small minded views. They say the "correct" words and cherry pick verses from the Bible to fit their views. This further strengthens and binds narrow mindedness and secretly promotes the exclusin of those that are different.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Sindie said...

As a parent of an autistic child, this is very disappointing to hear. To simply quit because of one incident is not an excuse. Parents of special needs children have to battle outbursts and potentially violent behavior from their children daily, but they love them regardless and do what's their power to help. Shouldn't the church family at large promote support for families who struggle, regardless of the nature of the struggle? To give up after one incident seems a pathetic excuse for me.

4:56 PM  

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