Have you ever heard of the word GIDER? No, it is not the first part of the well-known Larry the Cable Guy’s saying, “GIT-R-Done!” Though it is something every local church should “get done.” If you are a Scrabble pro and you are tempted to grab your dictionary let me save you the time. You will not find the word GIDER because it is not a word. For this blog, we will be using the new word GIDER as an acronym. This acronym spells out the five simple steps to doing Disability Ministry the right way. So, what does GIDER stand for?
Go, Include, Discover, Empower, Release
Disability ministry done right really is no different than ministry done the right way. Forget for a moment the thought that you have a special set of rules and exceptions for disability ministry. For most intensive purposes this is a false belief. God gives no asterisks in scripture. Why should you?
Did you know that Jesus himself commanded the church leadership of his day to do Disability Ministry? If you do not believe me stop this exercise and read Luke chapter 14. Not only does Jesus command the local church to do Disability Ministry he also models it by embracing the man that the church leadership was using as a prop. Pay careful attention to the words of Jesus in Luke 14:21. Jesus says, “go out quickly.” Jesus does not say, “form a committee,” or, “set a budget,” or “take some time and pray about it.” Jesus is saying the viability of disability ministry is not something that needs to be discussed in a meeting it is just something that needs to be done! So stop sitting around thinking about it. Get up! Go! Your disability community is waiting for you. Step one, Go, does not jive with the Field of Dreams “build it and they will come” ministry philosophy. You must be willing to leave the walls of your church and engage your disability community where they are.
- Luke 14:21
- “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.”
- Resource: Church Survey
- The CDC currently reports that 26% of all adults have a disability. That number is staggering. Over 1 in 4 in your church is disabled. Do not overlook the fact that a good number of people from the disability community are already in the seats of your church. So in addition to “Go,” you will need to inward too. This church survey will point in the right direction and help you ask the right questions.
- Resource: What does the Bible really say about disability?
- For your Disability Ministry to have a firm foundation it must be built on biblical principles. This resource will point you to some of the most key scriptures in all of the bible about disability.
Jesus did command church leadership to “go” and tell the good news to the disability community and then run back as fast as you can. This is not a “rake and run” ministry. There was a second part to Luke 14:21. Did you catch it? After “go out quickly” Jesus commands churches to “bring in” all who are poor and disabled. This is the work of inclusion. This is not a ministry of pity where people with disabilities are objectified. This is literally the missing piece to becoming a complete church. 1 Corinthians 12:22 makes that fact clear. It is the disability community, “those that seem to be weaker,” who are the most important and often missing parts of the body of the church. Without people affected by disability included in all facets of the church, the church is not as it was designed to be. It is incomplete.
- 1 Corinthians 12:22
- “In fact, it is just the opposite. The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are the ones we can’t do without.”
- Resource: Church Campus Accessibility Checklist
- There are many barriers to inclusion. The easiest barriers to remove are the physical ones. Use this accessibility checklist to help you identify the physical barriers that you need to address to become a welcoming church. Your church property sends a loud and clear message to people living with disabilities. Make sure that it is the same message that lines up with your heart. You likely will not get a second chance.
- Resource: The Pathway from Isolation to Embrace
- The barrier to inclusion that is more difficult to address is one that has nothing to do with physical accessibility. This barrier has everything to do with beliefs and attitudes. The world, from the beginning of time, has painted a very negative picture about disability. To overcome these negative narratives one must confront them much as Jesus did with the Disciples in John chapter 9. This resource will help you uncover some of these false beliefs and pave the way to a place of true inclusion, a place of being embraced by Jesus through the local church.
Remember God makes no exceptions and uses no asterisks in scripture. All means all. God never said that he reserves the right to only give spiritual gifts to people with IQ scores over 70 or only for able-bodied people. Every believer in Jesus is given spiritual gifts. These gifts serve a very specific purpose. They are for serving others and building up the body of Christ. Before one can use their spiritual gifts they must first discover what they are. Sometimes people easily identify their gifting. Others may struggle to discover exactly how God has gifted them. This is where you come in. Take the time to really get to know people in your ministry. The more time you spend with people the easier it will be to help them identify their gifting.
- Ephesians 4:12
- “Christ gave these gifts to prepare God’s holy people for the work of serving, to make the body of Christ stronger.”
- Resource: Gifts Inventory & Service Opportunities
- The Don’t Dis My Ability Gifts Inventory & Service Opportunities was designed to help people both identify their spiritual gifts and to identify the best place to use those gifts within the local church. Use this resource to interview people in your ministry. When you think you have identified a match set up a meeting with the Pastor or Director in charge of the selected ministry area. Begin the process of becoming a volunteer in that area.
The work of the local church is to empower its members to use their spiritual gifts to build up the Kingdom. Nowhere in scripture do you see that the work of the church was reserved only for the paid professionals, the Pastors, Priests, etc. All followers of Jesus are called to be “ministers” of the Gospel of Jesus. Time to get off the bleachers and get in the game. Time to start using those spiritual gifts. Time to start living out your faith. This can be frightening but remember that “God is working in you.” This call to action includes everyone in your Disability Ministry too! Remember if your friends with disabilities in your ministry are simply the objects of your ministry efforts you are doing Disability Ministry all wrong. Part of full inclusion means that all people are empowered to use their gifts.
- Philippians 2:13
- “God is working in you. He wants your plans and your acts to fulfill his good purpose.”
- Resource: Don’t Dis My Ability FREE Lesson
- If you need an inspiring message to share with your friends as you seek to empower them for works of service then this is the resource for you! Everything you need including a video message, discussion questions, video sign language memory verse, group activity is included in this download. Grab it today and prepare to unleash the untapped potential of your disability ministry on the world.
Disciples making disciples is the goal of almost every church. The goal of your disability ministry should be no different. Disability ministry was never intended to be a holding tank. Disability ministry done right should look like a production line, a place where disciples make disciples. You “go” out and “bring in” people from your community to find a place of belonging in the church. You help them “discover” their gifts and you “empower” them to use them within the church. Then like every child that grows up there comes a time when you either let them go or you push them out the door! The time of “release” is their “go” moment. Jesus left his followers with very specific instructions in what is known as the Great Commission. These commands were meant for all people, including people with disabilities. Jesus wants people to use their giftedness outside the church walls to share the good news. This does not mean people are no longer welcome in your Disability Ministry it just means they are fully equipped and empowered followers of Jesus making a difference for the Kingdom.
- Matthew 28:18-20
- Then Jesus came to them. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. So you must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And you can be sure that I am always with you, to the very end.”
It is Ryan’s passion to equip and empower churches, organizations, and individuals to reach their disability communities for Jesus. Ryan comes to Ability Ministry with 15+ years of ministry experience. He previously worked at First Christian Church in Canton, Ohio as their full-time Disability Pastor. He also worked as a Church Consultant for Key Ministry. Micah 6:8 and Proverbs 31:8 best describe Ryan’s commitment to life and ministry.