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How Can You Tell if It’s a Friendly Church? — 16 Comments

  1. I've been imspired by william's story. Yesterday I was feelimg the same feelings of loneliness and accused God of not being fair to me. thanx for this story I've learnt that these are just emotional games. may God forgive me and strengthen my faith.amen

    Amen!(25)
  2. Thank you, William for being willing to "bare your soul". In the process, I'm sure it has been a source of encouragement to many others, as well as a wake up call to all of us. I so agree that those who are not the official greeters need to seek out others and greet them. Praying before going to church for the Holy Spirit's direction as to who needs an encouraging word is helpful. Emails and text messaging can be used so effectively as you pointed out. God bless as you continue to share your thoughts with us through your posts. I look forward to reading them!

    Amen!(8)
  3. As I have Asperger's Syndrome (Autism) I would say from personal experience to really find out if a church is friendly have someone with Autism attend. People with Autism struggle with social interaction so will rarely initiate social interaction. As it is not obvious I am disabled I do not get "sympathy attention". Churches in my experience usually have cliques and cliques are very reluctant to speak to anyone at length outside their group. Numerous times I have said I was ignored at church and get told no you were not because people were not looking for anyone who was excluded. Please can we have everyone prioritize interacting with people who are excluded FIRST rather than talking to you clique.
    If you have someone with Autism attend and you know ask how best to fit them in. I am uncomfortable with touch which includes shaking hands which often makes people pull away from me. Since when do we HAVE to shake hands at church?
    The way people with Autism are approached verbally is important. To give an example the question "How are you"? closes me down because I do not know if the person wants just OK or actually wants you to answer truefully. Many times I have shocked people in the past by giving an answer I am bad and people walk away. If you ask a question please be prepared for it to be answered.
    People with Autism usually have a specialist interest and love talking about it. One of mine is analyzing teachings about the Bible which INCLUDES sermons. I had one church group threaten to put me on church discipline because I dared to say I thought something was wrong in the sermon AFTER church services. Just because it is a sermon in my view does not mean the message is infallible but many church members seem to think sermons are. Can I point out Paul praised the Bereans for checking the accuracy of his messages.
    My current church group have made another error in my view. First day I attended I said I have Autism almost 2 years later and only the Head Elder has asked what the symptoms are. If you have someone with Autism attend ask about symptoms. The Elders have told me the members avoid talking to me because I talk for too long which is a common symptom of Autism. That is code for talks about something I am not interested in. In my view if you are really friendly you will be prepared to listen to someone talk about something you are not that interested in.
    To summarize look FIRST for someone on their own. Be prepared for an unusual reaction e.g. my reluctance to shake hands. If you struggle to get the person to interact ask if there is something which can be done to help interaction AND be willing to act on the reply. If you have someone with Autism attend EXPECT "odd" symptoms and go with the flow. Do not condemn the person for attacking in an odd way

    Amen!(33)
    • John -- It is so cool that you shared your heart and how people can best interact with you! I would listen to a sermon by you any day. I'm glad you are part of God's kingdom.

      Amen!(5)
    • John Erik Warren-thank you for the education for all who will read your post. This is good knowledge for people on Sabbath and all other days of the week. All of the SDA churches could use some education seminars for understanding people from mindsets and circumstances beyond the typical as God is calling everyone. I pray for an increase in love and understanding among the SDA churches so God's love can be realized inside and outside the churches and the gospel commission will be fulfilled.

      Amen!(5)
      • I lecture at 2 universities up to PHD level on how to handle people with Autism. One university it is training future social workers and the other is school teachers doing further training. As I am used to doing Autism training I am willing to train SDA churches just they need to be willing to have aspects of SDA behavior challenged.
        At the universities I am allowed the chance to witness as I tell about the SDA church and its interactions with me. It is usual for me to mention Sabbath, tithe giving (used to illustrate people should be able to choose for themselves how they spend their money), people under British law have the right to practice their faith even if you think it is wrong.
        Having a disability can be be used as a means to witness.
        Any church willing to use me can contact me here. I am known by ASNA (British disability arm of the SDA church so feel free to check my creditionals

        Amen!(1)
    • John, thank you so much for sharing. I have worked with children with autism for twenty years now. I think that is awesome that you have made people aware of the mind - set of people who are on the spectrum. What people fail to realize is that Jesus loved everyone the same and we should too.

      Amen!(4)
  4. William,
    It is amazing how you use your personal life experiences to explain Bible truths. You are an inspiration to me and I believe to many more.

    God brings out great lessons that inspire others from our sad and sometimes very painful experiences. We may not know it, we may not see it from our own perspective but in such moments when clouds of doubt and fear assail us, when all seems lost and the heavens seem silent, The great I AM, is fashioning a great inspirational lesson to many who are weaker in faith and thousands who are losing hope amid fierce trials. Through the trials of Godly men and women of faith, thousands upon thousands are lifted up from the ashes of hopelessness and set upon the Rock of Ages, a sure and steadfast foundation where hope is restored and victory won.

    Be happy and exceedingly glad that your own sad and painful experience and your faith in Christ Jesus in the midst of a storm is giving hope to others and leading them to trust in Jesus our redeemer.

    There is no greater sermon preached than that of a faithful Adventist trusting in Jesus in the midst of a storm.

    Happy Sabbath to all ye faithful and the Joy of the heavens.

    Amen!(16)
  5. Walter, you have shared many sermons over the years that are inspirational and thought provoking. William Earnhardt has similar admonishments and experiences. I have been aware of the guidance and SDA parameters for well over 60 years. In reflecting on some comments I ask myself, Of the multitude of do's and don'ts, I must be a pretty bad person? I have not accomplished perfection by any stretch of the imagination. The best I can do is Pray for a change of heart.

    Amen!(8)
    • It depends what you call perfection Paul. When my kids were little, they used to make me birthday cards with hand-drawn pictures and funny lettering. They were perfect in my eyes! Others would have seen them as childish. Perfection is always about direction, never about the moment. God defines perfection, not the church, or the leaders, or the people who write blogs about perfection. Our perfection is a journey and its details are between us and God.

      Amen!(2)
  6. There is sweet peace for the compassionate spirit, a blessed satisfaction in the life of self-forgetful service for the good of others. The Holy Spirit that abides in the soul and is manifest in the life will soften hard hearts and awaken sympathy and tenderness. You will reap that which you sow.{MB 23}
    Someone asked me how to live longer, I knew they lived a fairly healthy life, so I referred them to this text. Psalms 41:1-3. We can help the poor in need of bread. And as was the case in Williams experience, we can help the poor in spirit and we reap a blessing too, not only now but also when we are laying in our bed sick. Read not only verse 1 and 2 but verse 3 also.

    Amen!(1)
  7. What a great article. I have seen some churches where even elders don't bring lunch! That leaves nah is one way of evangelising. It even attracts people from the surrounding.

    Amen!(1)
  8. Thank you for sharing this story Mr. William. I was feeling the same way last month. Out of nowhere I began doubting God's love for me. I prayed and cried to God to take it away. I was feeling hopeless. I couldn't share it with my family and friends because I don't want them to feel the same way after hearing my doubts. I prayed earnestly to God and what He did next is so awesome that I started to cry. Every morning the devotional that i read is all about how to remove your doubts. Even if I change the books that I read (EGW apps) it is the same message. After 3 days my sister sent me a video about doubting God. In the video there is a phrase that really hit me hard. It says before you doubt me doubt your doubts. It really hit me hard and started pouring out my heart to God. All the doubt that I had was gone and I felt a warm feeling, I felt that God was embracing me. After this experienced I shared it to one of my close friend. She shared to me that now she knows why she had this feeling that she needed to pray for me that week. God is truly amazing. He would never leave us nor forsake us. He will use our family and friends to let us know how much He loves us.

    Amen!(1)
  9. In my church we once had a mother with an Autistic son attend our services. We knew little about autism and was at a loss with this child in Sabbath school. The mother and her child eventually left the child and we loss contact with them. We desperately need the training and educational resources within our Sabbath school and throughout our church in effective ministry to people with Autism.We are all loved by God .

    Amen!(1)

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