Every new pastor receives several questions when they arrive to a new church. Who are you? Where are you from? How will you preach? Will you root for my favorite team?
If a pastor and their family have young children, there are additional questions that you get asked week to week. They focus around the idea of how can we love your child? Those are some of my favorite questions to answer, because there is nothing like seeing your child loved and cared for by the family of God. Your immediate thought is to say, “Well, love them like they are your own.”
For me, though, I have to think about how to answer that question. It’s a lot harder to answer, because of our son’s autism.
With each new community, there are additional questions, concerns, and needs that come in welcoming a new pastor kid let alone one who is on the spectrum. While autism has been part of the general consciousness since 1943, there is still a lack of understanding and awareness of what autism is and is not. I include myself in that conversation. Questions about the basics of autism, what needs to be done, and everything that falls in between are welcome for not just our son but the general community of how to love all of God’s children.
While most conversations about our son focus on worship and interactions within the church – that is, after all, where the majority of people will see him – it only scratches the surface of what is involved in raising a child on the spectrum, especially as a pastor.
So, what is it really like to raise a child on the spectrum disorder as a pastor? Continue reading “What It’s Like to Be a Pastor Raising an Autistic Child”