Ten Commandments of a Disability-Friendly Church

How intentionally disability-friendly is your congregation? Photo: Shutterstock

By Stephen J. Bedard

What do you need to be a disability-friendly church? Do you need a staff person assigned to a formal disability ministry? Do you need a large budget and a special curriculum?

All of those things can be helpful, but becoming disability-friendly is much simpler than that. I have both pastored and attended only small churches over the past two decades and have witnessed the loving and welcoming of those with disabilities.

Any church can become a safe place that embraces people of all disabilities. I have an article on this in the current issue of Faith Today. But you can begin with these ten simple steps.

1. Everybody is welcome.

2. Clear communication between leaders and each special needs family is essential.

3. Never give a dirty look because of an unexpected sound.

4. Love the entire family.

5. Speak directly to the person with the disability.

6. Educate yourself about different disabilities.

7. Develop a theology of disability. What does God intend for us around these issues?

8. Provide a safe environment for any person with a disability.

9. Never make assumptions about what a person can or can’t do.

10. It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s not okay to stop trying.

The church should be a welcoming place for people of all abilities. This is something that is possible for everyone from the largest megachurch to the smallest rural parish. Taking these steps will go a long way toward creating a space where families with disabilities will feel at home.

Stephen J. Bedard is pastor of Queen Street Baptist Church in St. Catharines, Ont., and author of How to Make Your Church Autism-Friendly (CreateSpace, 2016). Read his article “How to Become a Disability-Friendly Church: Even if your church is small and has limited resources” in our Jan/Feb 2018 issue. Don’t miss more great resources this year, start a risk-free trial subscription now!

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