Honoring Our Special Members With a Seat
Attendance in all three of our weekend worship services has been surging lately, and the Sunday services have often been bumping up against our capacity limits. “Nice problem to have” is a response I’ve often heard, and I largely agree. A packed sanctuary is much more encouraging than the opposite. Nevertheless, a full house makes finding a seat difficult, and this is especially true for our most special members.
God has shown us special favor in recent years by adding more and more people with special needs. Some of these are able to able to move about on their own or with minimal assistance from their parents or caretakers. But an increasing number come in wheelchairs; I can think of eight people who come on a fairly regular basis. If you think finding a seat is difficult when the room is crowded, imagine trying to find a spot if you were in a wheelchair!
We always manage to find a place for everyone, but we are going to do two simple things to do it better. The first is establishing designated spaces for wheelchairs in our seating set up. There are already some ideal spaces toward the front on either side of the room. We will add some signage to reserve seats near those spaces for those accompanying our wheelchair guests. In addition, we will add some spaces (i.e. remove chairs) near the back of the center seating section where access is easiest, along with reserved seat signs next to them.
However, while designated spaces and signage are important, the greatest need is proactive hospitality from our church family. Thankfully, we already have a good foundation laid. Many have expressed appreciation for how welcoming we are as a church for those with special needs. Warm smiles and friendly conversation are the norm. But we need to build on that foundation by proactively helping these friends find a seat. Our ushers will certainly take the lead in this, but this needs to be an activity of our entire church family.
To be clear, here’s what I’m asking you to do. Next time you are at church and waiting for the worship service to start, keep an eye out for these special members. As you enjoy a moment of conversation with them, keep an eye out for available seating space and ask if they would like any help finding a spot. This is a simple way to honor these treasured members of our family.