It’s hard for special-needs families to find community but by opening our homes, we can create it.
My husband is currently church planting and we plan to be special-needs welcoming, so we’ve had a lot of discussions with special-needs families about creating community. One comment we hear often is how hard it is for families like ours to go to other peoples’ houses. That’s certainly true for us. When we’re visiting someone else, I never truly relax because I can’t take my eyes off of James (our eight-year-old with autism). So how can we still be part of community and develop friendships? We become the ones who open our homes.
I know this isn’t easy. When James was a few years younger, we had to warn our guests that he could streak naked through the room at any moment. Even now we ask people not to leave their drinks sitting around, because he will find it and either drink it or pour it out.
As church planters, hospitality is part of the job. Our goals are to meet our neighbors, serve the special-needs families we meet through James’s class, and build relationship with our church family. We have people in our home multiple times a week. We invite James’s class over for parties (like the pumpkin painting party we had last weekend!). We host our small group. We invite families over each weekend.
You don’t have to be a church planter to open your home. You don’t even need to be an extrovert (because I’m certainly not). You just need to understand how important community is to your self-care and take steps to create it. If you’re following a cleaning routine and have conquered the clutter, having people over isn’t that much extra work.
If we want friends who “get it,” they need to see it. They need to experience life with us, in our homes. That builds empathy. That creates community.
More on hospitality:
- Twenty-Once Chances from Grace Table (You eat 21 meals a week. How many of those can your share with others?)
- Hospitality Tips for the Introvert Wife with an Extrovert Husband (from me)
- 5 Questions to Ask to Make Conversation Last Longer, Go Deeper (from me)
- The Art of Neighboring (a book and a website to encourage you to serve your neighbors)