Supporting churches to include people with Autism and Learning Disabilties


An 'actor' playing Gideon

An ‘actor’ playing Gideon

We have developed a pattern in our Good News Group (for adults with learning disabilities) of spending a term looking at the New Testament, followed by a term looking at the Old Testament.  This way we get to learn about the whole Bible and connect it all together with one central message – Jesus is our rescuer.

Tackling the Judges!

I must admit, though, that this terms’ theme of Judges gave us quite a challenge! We had 5 weeks to fill and so choose 4 stories from this chapter that seemed the ‘easiest’ to contain in a short and easy to understand talk…..Ha!…Simples????

It looked like this:

Week 1 – Ehud (the left handed assassin)

Week 2 – Deborah (a woman!)

Week 3 – Gideon (the God-tester)

Week 4 – Samson part 1 (the hero)

Week 5 – Samson part 2 (the fallen)

pictures courtesy of The Brick Testament

pictures courtesy of The Brick Testament



Two resources have helped us manage these stories into talks that our Good News Group members can access and understand:

1)    somehow the gory details we HAD to include were easier to show in Lego. (especially the nail in the head from Jael in week 2!)

2) Drama – setting out the story characters and events with real people and props, and asking everyone else to join in by being the army or crowd – meant that we were engaged in the stories together – actively not passively.

In the Gideon story one side of the room played the fierce Mideonites while the other side were the Israelite army being whittled down to a small group who then were given torches and horns to go and scare away the Mideonites!

Sensory Engagement

My week was Deborah.  I wanted to try a more sensory-story approach so that some of our less able and less-verbal members could get the chance to be up at the front telling the story.

For each part of the story I found sensory experiences, set them out on the table and then as I spoke the story, those up front were involved in smelling, waving, tasting, making sounds and feeling things.  Those watching seemed really interested too.

  • Eg. Deborah sat under the palm tree – waving large leaves and smelling coconut hand cream.
  • Army fighting – banging sticks together to make swords clashing noises.
  • Sisera running away and hiding in Jael’s tent – a large fleecy blanket to hide under.
  • Jael giving him milk – we poured and drank a cup of milk.
  • Jael driving a nail into his head – a real hammer and nail was tapped together by two people (but in a piece of wood NOT a head!!!)

The Message

We have tried to develop a central message to tie all the stories together and quite simply we repeat this every week…

1.  God’s people ignored him and needed a Saviour.

2.  We need a Saviour too.  It is Jesus.

3.  God can use any of us and all of us to do his work.

4.  The work we can do for God each day is to love him and love others.

Great message – especially as I’m a left-handed, God-testing woman who ignores God sometimes too! 

One more week to go – Samson part 2.  We had a fantastic ‘actor’ who played Samson last week (Well done S!).  This week I’m going to play Tom Jones’ ‘Delilah’ as we go out – Shhh, don’t tell anyone….Tee Hee!

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