Zacchaeus Had a Tree. What Trees Does Your Church Have?

To see Jesus some people need a little boost, just like Zacchaeus. He was a short, little man and when Jesus came into town, Zacchaeus could only see him by climbing up a sycamore tree. What kind of “trees” do you need to plant to help your congregation see Jesus?

The first “tree to plant” is closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing members of your church.

Here’s one church’s story:

I cried all the way through the service today. It was the first day since 1993 that I had the opportunity to “hear” a sermon.

These are the words of a former music minister gone deaf. In the process of four days, the illness completely took his hearing and since then has missed every sermon… until now.

Church sermons are being “heard” by the deaf at Idlewild Baptist Church with the implementation of closed captioning.

Senior Pastor Ken Whitten of Idlewild Church realized that members of his congregation were sitting in silence. Pastor Whitten’s compassion for his special needs church members led him to search for a solution. Aberdeen Captioning stepped in to help.

Many churches have relied on using a sign language interpreter on stage during church services, in order to assist deaf members of the congregation. The issue with sign language alone is that it is typically only understood by those with a lifelong hearing impairment, leaving the rest of the deaf and hard of hearing community missing the message.

Since 2011, two Sunday morning services at Idlewild have been closed captioned. Jimmy Moore, Minister of Technical Ministries at Idlewild, discussed their ministry’s decision to implement closed captioning in addition to having a sign language interpreter. Moore notes, “There are some folks here that have adult onset of total hearing loss.  We have a Senior Pastor with a primary spiritual gift of mercy (he loves people). These people matter!”

After the initial service, Pastor Whitten had this message for Aberdeen Captioning: “Thanks Team for making yesterday memorable for so many. It's just the beginning, but it would have never launched without you and your heart and hard work. You're a blessing to labor with. I could have also talked about a lady who cried at 9:30 too. They are out there. One lady came to see me at the Pastor's reception and told me she's telling all her friends. Get ready. It's meeting a need.”

Closed captioning should not just be an afterthought. It is not just words on a screen to meet the federal mandate. It is another way of spreading the Word to the world. Implementing closed captioning should be a vital part of your ministry –it allows the Gospel to reach beyond the hearing public. There’s a great chance that people are sitting through your church service in a world of silence.

In addition to “planting” closed captioning in your church, another “tree to plant” is live Spanish interpretation.

Think about this: What about people who can hear, but can’t understand?  In today’s world, people speaking many different languages often join together at church.   Many congregations are implementing live Spanish interpretation services to meet the needs of their Spanish-speaking members.  The service Aberdeen offers is not your standard interpretation service requiring a receiving device for each member. With our service, it is simple—Spanish speakers are able to listen to a live audio feed using an internet connection through their mobile or any portable device while sitting in the regular church service.  This service can also be used at a home internet connection or even streamed at a separate section of the church for those who do not have their own portable or mobile devices.

There are many additional services you can implement to help provide access to all your church members. These two—closed captioning and live Spanish interpretation—are two great services to start out with. Not everyone has the same opportunity to see Jesus. Your church can answer the call of God by giving the deaf and hard of hearing and the Spanish speakers in your area the ability to know Jesus.