Supporting churches to include people with Autism and Learning Disabilties

Party Hat

 I put the five names in a hat (yes, it really was a hat) and drew out the name of the person who I will give the book ‘Making Church Accessible’ to.

So congratulations to Jeanette –  I have sent you an email.

However, everyone who commented has a serious desire to make church more accessible and so in my next few posts I am going to give some ideas, resources and links to help you get started.  I will share our experiences of setting up and running a group for adults with learning disabilities, my experiences of supporting a teenager with autism through youth group and supporting younger children with additional needs in church and holiday club.  We may even have some great guest posts too. 

It will be great if people reading will post comments so we can learn from each other and start a dialogue.

So…we ask…where do we begin?

So many of us can be paralysed by feeling out of our depth, alone, confused, unworthy, thinking we don’t know enough or are not bold enough to tackle a new thing….and here we are talking about a huge issue of making the church more inclusive to people with additional needs. The task can seem too big.

Well, the good news is that I have heard of a few other people who were asked by God to do some tasks for him…and they complained, refused, ran away, made a mess…and still the task was done.

You might have heard of them too…some of them were called Moses, Jonah, Esther, Joseph, Jacob, Noah, David, Naomi….

What they all had in common was human faliability. So, that puts us in good company then!

What they all had in common too – was that God did the work and made it all happen the way he wanted to in the end.  He uses unexpected people to do amazing things. He uses the weak to speak up to the powerful and shows us that HE is the powerful one. 

So my STEP 1 of making the church more inclusive is to surrender all that you desire, feel, think, dream of doing  to Jesus.  Give it to him and pray, pray, pray.  Maybe your prayers could say:

“I will not do my own thing but your will Lord.  I will not give up but trust you to overcome all things Lord.  I will listen to you and to others. I will step out in faith, knowing my own helplessness and inadequacy, and do it anyway. Amen”

The next thing is to get others to pray with you.  Maybe give them a little prayer card and ask them to commit to praying for you and your church.   Remember if it is your own child you are concerned about, what you do will benefit many more, and I know from the comments on my blog that people have big hearts for this work.

Just a little tip – add pictures to your prayer card. They appeal to people and help them process quickly what you are about.   Here is an example – I would use clipart but  photos would do just as well as long as they are specific to what you are asking.   (Sorry – Due to technical difficulites my pictures would not add to this example.)

  

Please Pray 

 

  1. For a group of people who will join me in setting up and supporting ministry for children and adults with additional needs in our church.

 

  1. For God to lead all our church to have a willing and open heart for people with additional needs.

 

  1. For the resources, training and outside help we might need.

 

  1. For children, families and adults with additional needs to want to come to church and know Jesus.

 

  1. For boldness and courage to start making contacts and relationships with people with additional needs and their families and carers.

I realise that everyone reading this may be at differnt stages and already be some way down the line of doing this work. I am starting from the beginning so that everything is in context.  I start with this post because even many years down the line prayer is fundamental to everything we do and achieve.

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