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Disability within Faith Communities

A showcase of books and articles related to worship and disabilites

The gospels beautifully portray Jesus' leadership in building faith communities. He recruited a group of disciples and began taking them to populations of people outside of the church, their neighborhoods and even the city walls. These marginalized populations were diseased, racially separated and folks with a wide array of disabilities who left home or were sent out to honor societal law. But Jesus with his disciples declared it a new day! He physically took his disciples to the places where the marginalized were and modeled to his disciples how to talk, care and exclusively value these folks in a new way. Jesus even began preaching a new gospel of inclusion with the Sermon on the Mount in which he blesses people not out of virtue but vulnerability.

No less is expected of our faith communities 2,000 years later. We are inspired by  individuals, families and church communities who lead us in the care of our friends with disability. And we recognize that scripture screams to us all a call to learn about our God through living an every day life of lament, vulnerability and celebration with these friends. 

The purpose of this showcase is to help us as individuals, families and faith communities be bridges of holistic care to our friends and families with disability in order that we can step into life together and experience God and his attributes in new ways.

Key Insights

  • Wise are the people who live Jesus' model of inclusion in their daily lives.
  • Wise are the faith communities who study God's word and step into the lives of persons and families with disability.
  • Wise are the people and faith communities that expectantly engage in the lives of persons with disability looking to see God new.
  • Strong is the faith community that practices lament, vulnerability, and joy together.


Disabiity_and_Inclusive_Communities_Timpe Disability and Inclusive Communities
(Calvin College Press, 2019)

OneTrackOne-Track Mind-15 Ways to Amplify Your Child's Special Interest
(JAM Ink, 2015) by Andrea Moriarty

lsnm_cover_hi Leading Special Needs Ministry
(Orange, 2014) by Amy Lee Fenton

Accessible Gospel, Inclusive Worship Accessible Gospel, Inclusive Worship
(Christian Learning Network, 2014) by Barbara Newman and Betty Grit

Vulnerable Communion: A Theology of Disability and Hospitality (Brazos Press, 2008) 
by Thomas E. Reynolds

Adam: God's Beloved (Orbis Books, 1997)
by Henri JM Nouwen 

Living Gently in a Violent World: The Prophetic Witness of Weakness (InterVarsity Press, 2008)
by Stanley Hauerwas and Jean Vanier 

Helping Kids Include Kids with Disability (Faith Alive, 2001)
by Barbara Newman

 Including People with Disabilities in Faith Communities (Paul H Brooks Publishing, 2007)
by Erik Carter

A Good and Perfect Gift (Bethany House, 2011)
by Amy Julia Becker

Wrestling with an Angel: A Story of Love, Disability and the Lessons of Grace (Cruciform Press, 2010)
by Greg Lucas

 Disability and the Gospel (Crossway, 2012) by Michael S. Beates

Just the Way I Am: God's Good Design in Disability (Christian Focus, 2012)
by Krista Horning

Immeasurably More: More Hope, More Joy: Embracing Life with Down Syndrome (Credo House Publishers, 2012)
by Linda Alderink

Autism and Your Church: Nurturing the Spiritual Growth of People with Autism Spectrum Disorder
(Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2011) 
by Barbara J. Newman

 Amplifying Our Witness: Giving Voice to Adolescents with Developmental Disabilities
(Eerdmans, 2012)
by Benjamin T. Conner


Handbook for Worship

Beyond Suffering Curriculum by Joni and Friends

That All May Worship:  An Interfaith Welcome to People with Disabilities 


5 Stages: The Journey of Disability Attitudes

What Would Be Better?
by Marc Tumeinski and Jeff McNair

Peace that Passes Understanding: Communion and Intellectual Disability

The Treasure in Clay Jars: Preaching Ideas on Disability
by Linda Jean H. Larson

Hospitality as Paying Attention

Robert Nikola on Designing Equal Access Churches

Accessibility in Worship Architecture: Does Your Church Welcome Everyone?

All God’s Children Have Gifts: Disability and Worship

We Need Every Part of the Body: Including People with Disabilities
by Joan Cornelison

Inclusive Communion - Accommodating Worshiper's Unique Needs
by Mark Stephenson

Universal Design, Vertical Habits and Inclusive Worship
by Joan Huyser-Honig and Barbara J. Newman

Welcoming People with Developmental Disabilities and Their Families: A Practical Guide for Congregations
by Courtney E. Taylor, Erik W. Carter, Naomi H. Annandale, Thomas L. Boehm, and Aimee K. Logeman

More resources from the Reformed Church in America

More resources from the Christian Reformed Church


Faith and Flourishing:  Equipping your Church to Reach Out to People With Disabilities
by Rev. Peter McKechnie

Faith and Flourishing: Welcoming Children with Disabilities and their Families
by Amy Fenton Lee 

Faith and Flourishing:Hidden in Plain Sight
by Bill Gaventa

Rethinking Perfection
by Amy Julia Becker

Better Together: The Call for People With and Without Disabilities to Worship, Serve, Learn and Live Alongside Each Other
by Erik Carter

Universal Design for Worship
by Barbara J. Newman


Incomplete Without You: The Church and People with Disabilities

Worship as One: Disability in Community

Disability in Heaven

Blogs and Online Resources

Collaborative on Faith and Disability  - Great resources and weekly free webinars on topics surrounding faith and disability. 


Disabled Christianity

Disability Concerns

Irresistible Church

Joni and Friends International Disability Center

Key Ministries- A Church for Every Kid

McLean Bible Church Access Ministry

The Inclusive Church

Thin Places - Faith, Family and Disability


Through the Vital Worship Grants program, several worshiping communities have received funds to explore the topic of worship and disabilities.

Christian Learning Center
To explore ways to make worship accessible for children and adults with disabilities and to recognize and encourage the participation and leadership of those with special needs and gifts through a partnership with eight to ten congregations.

Fellowship Christian Reformed Church
To study and evaluate past worship practices and create new liturgies that practice inclusivity, collaboration, creativity, and social justice and that encourage the gifts of musicians, artists, dancers, children, writers, and persons with disabilities.

Being Whole Community at Stony Point Center
To train worship leaders in opening worship to the leadership gifts of persons with disabilities through a conference and a year long process of learning with several congregations.

Bobby Dodd Institute
To develop a process that brings together clergy and people with disabilities to create a model of inclusive worship in six area congregations.

Hope Network
To prepare ten congregations from a wide range of Christian traditions to include persons with physical and mental disabilities through seminars, training and consultation with clergy and lay leaders, and to assist them in developing a congregational plan for the intentional inclusion of these persons in worship, fellowship, education, service and justice activities.