October 2009

Here is some commentary on the worship questions Special Gathering struggled with during our retreat.  On Friday evening, we listed these in order of importance to us. That is we tried to determine which our teachers and volunteers (our elders) think are important.

1) What do we like? I think often this becomes the primary issue that determines what worship services for mentally challenged persons look like. Those who are in charge often structure a worship service that is meaningful to them (those in charge) or they structure a worship service they feel would be meaningful to children.

2) What is educationally sound? This became an issue for me personally when I realized that most of my sermons were not educationally sound. We often used object lessons that were figurative. The first video we made of The Special Gathering showed me with some test tubes. One of the test tubes (which was ¾ full of a clear liquid) represented a person. There was a second test tube that I poured into the first that represented sin. Now the first test tube turned blacked (to ooh and ahs). Yet the third test tube which had red liquid in it (representing the blood of Jesus) was poured into the first test tube turning it clear again (to yet more ooh and ahs). A mentally challenged person has to mentally make abstract connections between test tubes being humans, The devil, and Jesus. Even though people enjoyed the trick I think they missed the point. The object lesson did not make it easier to understand and in fact may make it harder to understand. One of our teachers asked me lately, “how many of our members could tell you who Moses is?” I then asked myself what was important for our members to know? For me the list would be Christ and Cross focused. Also knowing we are sinners.

3) What is theologically correct? For the purpose of this discussion we are not referring to your systematic theology or belief system. The issue to be considered is weather there is a correct way to “do” worship and an incorrect way to “do” worship. Or is it only a matter of preference? I like contemporary music, you like hymns and yet someone else likes southern gospel, but are they all equally valid? Are there types of worship that are false fire (Lev 10:1-3, Heb 9:1). Or are there things you just should not do like – You just shouldn’t do communion with Mountain Dew and Dorritos? 1 Cor. 14 is about what should not happen in worship. One of the standards used is what the unbeliever would think.

4) What is meaningful to those attending? This really is not about the service being “seeker friendly” as much as it is about worship being ‘man” centered or “God” centered. Are our sermons more about what we need (how to have a better marriage, more happiness, better finances, etc) or is it about the greatness of God, the cross and the sinfulness of man.

5) What does God likes? Are there types or styles or forms of worship that are more pleasing to God? If we are to give God our best does He prefer more sophisticated music over simplistic music? Does it sadden God when we dress better for a job interview than to worship Him? Does he want our first fruits and not our leftovers? a) Those that have liked more traditional worship to high worship have at time made the case that contemporary/charismatic worship was not up to par and looked down on it. b) Likewise many who liked contemporary/charismatic worship felt that others were just missing God. That they were more spiritual. c) If God does not have a preference then it does not matter what we do. d) What is in Spirit and in Truth.

6) Disability Sensibilities? How does the culture we are trying to reach change what we do? It is the puppet/clown question. Many if not most of the people we serve are offended by being treated like children. So do we never use puppets or clowns?

7) Good enough for retarded people? No one would ever say that, but it can become an attitude we have. Does it empower mentally challenged persons? What part of what we do can be done by our members. Parts of worship like praying, scripture reading, etc.

8) Is it being well done? Doing everything as well as it can be done. Is this the way you would do “it” in your home church? If not, why not? Is it different because of the needs of mentally challenged persons or is it different because we put less effort into “it” when “it” is for persons with disabilities.

9) Being mystical? We know that when we worship something is happening on the spiritual domain. That none of us are able to reach God so God reaches us. That is what Jesus is all about. How important is cognitive understanding?

This is a comment submitted by Richard Stimson to the Friday, October 30 post.

Because our retreat begins tonight, I will be posting highlights from the retreat regularly.  However, I wanted to post an article I received from Prime Time with God.  I get daily e-mails from them.  If you are interested in receiving these you can e-mail them.  The address is below. 

Worship and Work
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 2, by Os Hillman

“One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike” (Rom 14:5).

Avodah (Ah´-voe-dah) is a Hebrew noun used in the Bible that has two distinct yet intertwined meanings: worship and work. It is also derived from the Hebrew verb L’Avod which has two meanings; to work and also to worship. The dual meaning offers powerful wisdom for modern times for how we are to view our work lives.

Work, if done with integrity and unto God, is a form of worship in the biblical Hebrew context. There has never been a concept of segmenting our work from our faith life in the Bible. It is in the realm of the sacred to bring God into our everyday life. Hebrews did not set aside a “day of worship,” such as Saturday or Sunday, but everyday is a place and time of worship. They did set aside a Sabbath day of rest.

It is a western idea to segment one’s faith life from our work like. In the Middle East and Asia, their cultures would never separate their faith from their work life even though their faith foundations might clearly contradict Christian beliefs. When someone comes to faith in Christ from this area of the world, they have an easier time of assimilating their faith into their work because they have always done so.

God calls us to do our work as an act of worship to Him. Our work is not to be a place of sweat and toil, but an expression of our love, faith and adoration of Jesus Christ. Today, before you work, ask God to help you see your work in a new way ? as worship to Him.

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Richard Stimson has come up with a list of questions he developed that which he believes effect how people evaluate worship.  These questions will be the jumping in place for the Special Gathering Retreat held on Friday, October 30 and Saturday October 31.  Here are the questions.  Perhaps you have others that you believe should also be considered.  In fact, feel free to hop into the wrestling match.

  1. What do we/I like?
  2. What is educationally sound?
  3. What is theologically correct?
  4. What is meaningful to those attending?
  5. What does God likes?
  6. Disability Sensibilities?
  7. Good enough for retarded people?
  8. Does it empower mentally challenged persons?
  9. Is it being well done?
  10. Being mystical?
  11. Other  

Stimson says that he has not been original in what he is doing.  He took work by Dr. Harold Westing for Denver Seminary and applied it to what Special Gathering does, hoping this will stimulate conversation and reflection regarding effective worship within the mentally challenged community.


Pam is a member of our Vero program.  She is in the hospital with viral pneumonia, in critical care.  She is also in semi-isolation.  She cannot confirm because she doesn’t know if she has swine flu and the hospital staff cannot tell me.  Pam has no family in the area. 

As you probably know, it is not the flu that is life threatening but the viral pneumonia that takes lives.  Pam is having an operation to drain the fluid from her lungs.  Please pray for Pam. 

She is an active member and a faithfully attends our choir.  Pam is one of our higher functioning members.  In addition, she is a member of a local Lutheran church.  Several of the church members who were friends of her mother’s before she died have adopted her.  They take her places and see to her personal care needs.  One of our more quirky members, Pam is delightful to have around.  Of course, she can also make everyone miserable with her idiosyncratic mannerisms.

Pam’s gifting is in the area of evangelism.  Each Christmas Pam has a row or two of people that she has urged to attend our Special Gathering Play.  And they come.  She is able to gather people around her in a positive way. 

Again, please pray for Pam.  She has great value to many people.

Have you ever been like Abraham and Sarah?  God had promised something wonderful and you are tired of waiting?  Of course, this impatience only produces an Ishmael that will cause contention and pain for years.

Often I tend to blame the Ishmael’s in my life, rather than put the blame for the trouble produced where it is needed, squarely on my shoulders.  In ministry, I believe that we are constantly in danger of producing Ishmael’s.  Of course, our purpose is only for the good of the ministry.  We only have the goodwill and future spiritual growth of our members at heart but…  Producing an Ishmael is never a good plan.

The past few years, our Melbourne program has seen no growth.  We would gain a member.  Then we would lose a member.  You know the process.  No growth always leads to death.  That could be an actual quick death or a slow dying process that eats at the inner being of the ministry. 

I seemed to be able to do nothing but pray.  People would sometimes ask, “What is your growth plan?”  I had to admit that I could not come up with anything. 

In the past, I’ve fallen into the trap of wanting growth more than God.  Perhaps, it’s my age, but this time I’ve been willing to wait on God to move.  It appears that he has.  This Sunday, with new members coming each week this month, our numbers were up above the norm.  I am grateful that God has begun to move again, touching hearts and bringing in new members and bringing back others.

God will do what he has promised but the danger is not being able to wait.  Then our impatience produces an Ishmael.  Has your impatience ever produced an Ishmael?  How have you been able to work around your Ishmael?

This is the content of a letter sent from APD signed by Jim DeBeaugrine, Director, to Family Care Council.  It’s a bit of a smooze job.  However, I thought would want to read this.   For some odd reason, it would not copy directly, therefore, I had to type it into the post.  If you would like to give your own very positive feedback, please respond by phone at 866 273 2273 or online at http://apd.myflorida.com or wirte to Director Debeaugrine at 4030 Esplanade Way, Suite 380, Tallahassee, FL  32399 0950. 

October 19, 2009

Dear Family Care Council Members,

We have completed the last of our seven public meetings to share the news about APD’s new initiatives.  The feedback we received was very positive.  Consumers, families and providers especially appreciate the chance to ask questions, provide comments, and hear responses.  I also enjoyed the opportunity to speak directly with those we serve and those involved in making those services happen.  The family Care Councils’ involvement in helping to organize and publicize these meetings was key to their success and I am very grateful to you.

Agency staff is responding to the large number of questions asked at these meetings.  We will be posting these questions and resonses of general iterest on our website by early November.  Links will be e-mailed to you once they are posted.  However, we are responding individually to those questions which address personal situations.

Other feedback we received was taht attendees wanted more dtails about he initiative.s  As I mentionned during the meetings we are planning anouther round of events to share more information once the plan for individual budget (iBudget Florida) has been further developed.  We are tentatively planning those for January 2010.  In the meantime, we’ll be sharing information through out website.  Loook for more information on specific links in a future e-mail.

Again, thanks for your support of these recent meetings, and thanks for all you do to help those we serve,


Jim DeBeaugrine


The Church Worships God

II Chronicles 29:31

Central Theme:  The job of the Church is to worship God.

Introduction–Bring a watch that does not work.  Throw it away.  Bring a straw with a hole in it.  Throw it away.  I don‘t use things that don‘t work.  I am so glad that worship is such an effective tool that God has given to us, the Church.  Have a member read II Chronicles 29:31.

       I.     Tell the story of King Hezekiah. 

              A. He became king of Judah at 25.

              B. He restored the temple and made the preachers do the things they needed to do to serve God.

              C. He told the people to clean themselves up and come to worship God.

      II.     Worshiping with other Christians is a powerful tool.

              A. Show my new box of tools that have not been taken out of the box.

              B  Some of us sit in a worship service but we get no benefit from it.

              C. You don‘t sing or pray or give or listen.

              D. You love Special Gathering and you would not miss one Sunday coming but you get no benefit.

      III.     The Benefits you can get               

              A. Singing–you get to bless God because he blesses you. And singing is fun.

              B. Prayer you get to talk to God with others who are also talking to him.  He answers our prayers

              C. Giving–you get to put your money into the church and God multiplies it with the money of everyone else.  You cannot out give God.

              D. Listening and learning–you can learn about Jesus and he can help you with all your needs.

Conclusion  Worship is important and it is what the church does.

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