What if we really did bring in the poor, crippled, blind and lame?

I’ve really been blessed recently by the ministry of Joni Eareckson Tada and her “Joni and Friends” network.  I won’t get into the details about why I contacted them, but basically, I was struggling to know how to minister to someone that was going through a period of immense suffering.  I wrote to Joni and Friends about the situation and received a prompt email reply withsome wonderful words of encouragement and advice.  The next week a package arrived in the mail with a number of resources that I feel are going to be tremendously helpful to me. Included was a message by Joni on the subject of hope that I have already forwarded on to the person I’m seeking to help.  Also included was Joni’s book Heaven Your Real Home, which is in my opinion the best book on Heaven that has been written.  Get it and read it, you’ll be glad.

Now, let me just throw something out there that has been on my mind today.  You know, of course, that I’m a church planter and church planting strategist in the Chicago area.  Part of my job involves identifying unreached or under-engaged ethnographic/demographic groups and to mobilize prayer and raise up missionaries for those pockets of lostness.  Well, I heard something today in a message by Joni that just really got me thinking.  Joni said that in her ministry they take Luke 14 very seriously.  Here’s what I read there:

 He said also to the man who had invited him, "When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just." When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, "Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!" But he said to him, "A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is now ready.' But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, 'I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.' And another said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.' And another said, 'I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.' So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, 'Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.' And the servant said, 'Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.' And the master said to the servant, 'Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 
(Luk 14:12-23 ESV)

And so I got to thinking, what if we really did go out and do that?  What if we had specific church plants that were focused entirely on bringing in the disabled?  What if some of our dying and gasping churches – with more empty pews than people – shifted their focus on reaching the poor, crippled, blind, and lame?  What if?  Well, actually the Lord Jesus gives us the answer in this chapter.  He says that at least two things will result:

1. You will be blessed . . . for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.
2. My house will be filled.

You know, for people that talk a great talk about believing and living by the Bible, we so often fail to practice some of the most straightforward principles.  For people that often get so infatuated with the notion of church growth and spend millions on conferences and books and seminars to learn the latest cutting-edge strategies, we often ignore the simplicity and certainty of Christ’s own words.  You want to fill the house of God?  Go out and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.  Invite the disabled. 

So I am calling on the New Work Team of Chicago Metro Baptist Association and all my readers out there (or maybe both my readers out there), to start praying.  Let’s pray specifically that God will raise up church planters in several different areas of Chicago to plant churches that are focused on reaching disabled people with the hope and wholeness of Jesus Christ.

I've also noted that Joni has been very involved with Lausanne in the past.  I'm wondering if she'll be among the 400 U.S. Americans at Cape Town next year and, if so, whether or not I'll get a chance to meet her.  I'm always pretty bad about that stuff though.  I feel weird about talking to famous people that I admire and usually chicken out.  We'll see, I guess.


  1. I know it is a little weird to comment on your own post, but I can't get this one out of my head. I keep thinking about a couple things. First, those churches that have been struggling for years with 30, 50, 70 people in attendance. They just don't know how to grow their church, how to fill their pews. This, my friends, is an absolutely clear and Biblical church growth principle -- go to the disabled. Reach out to the disabled in particular that God's house may be filled.

    Secondly, there is this little word from Scripture, "those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable" (1 Cor. 12:22). Forget the fact that we dispense with them all the time. Our churches need the seemingly weak. We should seek them out.

    Today, I prayed that God would raise up church planters with visions to start networks of Christocentric cell groups that meet in nursing homes, group homes, psych wards, and otherwise follow the natural social networks of the poor, blind, crippled and lame.
    November 23, 2009 @ 4:29 PM

  2. Jeromy12:53 AM

    I'll pray about this, actually have been praying about how to engage the poor in my community and thinking about a couple diff things. It is great to hear God speaking to you on this. I have heard about church happening in jails, nursing homes but hmm "group homes and psych wards" I would be interested in that. The abused and neglected have been on my mind specificly and I guess I just need to act on a way I am thinking about engaging them. Also last week I started to disciple my children about taking care of the poor, in a very practical way. Maybe we could discuss this topic in Peer mentoring sometime soon.
    July 1, 2010 @ 8:15 PM

  3. Therese Swinters12:54 AM

    just a quick input from Europe about this.
    The European Disability Network is indeed a network of all kinds of ministies to and with people with a disability. We are linked with Joni and Friends and some off our European partners are in partnership with Joni and Friends USA. Our partners with best resources are Trought the Roof http://www.throughtheroof.org/ and Causeway Prospects http://www.prospects.org.uk/
    your input on Luc 14 and 1 Cor 12:22 are so deep in my heart but I am not good in editing a paper on a specific topic.
    Disability is affecting every area of our society, but we don't see it very often because a lot of disabled people are isolated in their homes. Very often (in eastern countries) they can't come out because they live in houses not accessible, f.e. without a lift. They very often do not have wheelchairs if they need them. Very often churches are so busy doing evangelism, that they do not have time to visit these people, or they even don't know somebody with a disability lives in their own appartment bloc. And jet, so much good is going on.
    The European Disability Network is an ambrella with about 20 Christian minitries among the disabled people.
    I hope to meet with you in Cape Town, just look out for a lady that uses a wheelchair most of the time.
    July 2, 2010 @ 3:00 AM