Inclusivity in the Church: Successes and Failures

In this encounter, Topher Endress shares examples of experiences with different levels of intentionality and inclusivity of people with disabilities in churches.


Watch this video to hear Topher's examples of churches that have failed to be inclusive of the people with disabilities in their congregation.

Watch this video to hear Topher's examples of churches that have intentionally created an inclusive environment for people with disabilities within their congregations and communities.

What You Do Matters

What would you like to do next with Successes and Failures of Inclusivity in the Church?

How Can We Be Inclusive?

You can use these questions for individual reflection or for a group discussion about Topher Endress' videos on inclusivity in the church.


Extra wide open table

Take what you learned from Topher Endress' video interviews and spend more time reflecting on the ideas he presents. Use these questions for your own reflection or bring them to a group conversation. Learn, Reflect, Grow.
 

  • How can we lead our churches to be more intentional about including people with disabilities?
     
  • In what ways can church leaders allow people with disabilities to articulate their own needs in church? How can church members listen and be open to these needs?
     
  • Many of us can recognize that our communities could be doing better in accessibility and inclusivity for people with disabilities. How can churches serve as examples for their communities?
     
  • How much of inclusivity is about feeling welcomed? What things could be done to create a welcoming space?
     
  • Why is visibility important to inclusivity? How can people with disabilities become visible without becoming tokens?

What You Do Matters

What would you like to do next with Successes and Failures of Inclusivity in the Church?

Take Action


Cultivating Inclusivity: Respectful Disability Language

This action focuses on respectful disability language as a first step in cultivating spaces within our communities for people with disabilities and for those who may otherwise feel excluded.


Communication is key to welcoming all people into a church community. Therefore, learning about respectful disability language can be a first step in creating an environment that is inclusive for people with disabilities. The suggestions below are a good starting place, but continue to learn by listening to people with disabilities about the language they prefer.
 

  1. Disability: Use the term disability and don’t use the terms “handicapped,” “differently-abled,” “cripple,” “crippled,” “victim,” “retarded,” “stricken,” “poor,” “unfortunate,” or “special needs.”
  2. Person First Language: Rather than using phrases like “disabled person,” it is more respectful to put the emphasis on someone’s personhood by using the phrase “person with a disability.”
  3. Be Respectful: Just because someone has a disability, it doesn’t mean he/she is “courageous,” “brave,” “special,” or “superhuman” because of that disability. People with disabilities are the same as everyone else -- they have talents, skills, and abilities that are tied to their personhood.
  4. People Without Disabilities: When talking about people without disabilities, avoid terms like “normal” or “healthy.” These terms can make people with disabilities feel as though there is something wrong with them and that they are “abnormal."
  5. Listen, Don’t Assume: People with disabilities are experts on their needs, so listen to them when determining accommodations and learning about the language they prefer. Don’t be afraid to ask a person with a disability what terms they prefer. When in doubt, use the person’s name when addressing them.

Learn more about respectful disability language here

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