Ryan has appeared in Nordstrom's ads and others, and like Rick, I am pleased to see Ryan's face alongside kids without Down syndrome instead of sequestered into an ad of just kids with special needs, as is often the case. Target included Ryan, but they didn't make a big deal out of it. Their lack of words said more than anything else could have, including that kids with Down syndrome are kids first and that inclusion isn't a big deal but that exclusion would be.
To put it into roughly sketched pictures, Target said we're not going to work with these buckets
because kids with special needs are kids too. In fact, they're kids first, with disability as just one characteristic, like hair color or slinky preference. Separating their ads into the two categories above would make as much sense as doing using the ones below.
Instead, Target just advertises clothing to kids, in all their diversity.
Now how about us? Consider the areas of your church that display what you care about. Does the bulletin board with children's ministry pictures or the section of your website devoted to family ministry include the faces of those with special needs? Or do you just include those pictures in areas that are specific to special needs?
Of course, that's not the only sign of how you view people, just like this past Sunday's Target ad isn't the only sign of that company's inclusion of kids with special needs. It is a good indicator though, isn't it?
Is this your church, in which people can only fit in one bucket?
Or do you acknowledge that we are all the church, made richer because of - and not in spite of - our God-given diversity?
I know I didn't include every people group or ministry area in the graphic above, but I think you get the idea. If we're the church God designed us to be, we won't create divisions by ability or disability, choosing instead to "...walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:2-3, emphasis mine).
P.S. Sketching might not be my strong suit, but my four-year-old daughter recognized that the pictures above were buckets, and that's good enough for me.