10 episodes

Welcome to the Accessible Church Podcast, a ministry of Disability Matters, where our hope is to encourage every church to embrace disability. In this podcast we share honest and real stories and perspectives about disability and the church. We believe these stories will teach, challenge, and inspire you.

The Accessible Church Podcast Ellen Stumbo

    • Christianity

Welcome to the Accessible Church Podcast, a ministry of Disability Matters, where our hope is to encourage every church to embrace disability. In this podcast we share honest and real stories and perspectives about disability and the church. We believe these stories will teach, challenge, and inspire you.

    Episode 16: Small Churches Can Do Disability Ministry Too [Podcast]

    Episode 16: Small Churches Can Do Disability Ministry Too [Podcast]

    Disability Ministry is not only for big churches with many resources and people. Small churches can do disability ministry too. Small churches can function as a family, and this way the depth of relationship can be deeper.

    Ten ways in which a small church can do disability ministry:

    You welcome every person, not just by saying hi, but by attitude. If someone worships different than you do and they are loud, you welcome the diversity and the fact that every person can participate in worship time.

    If a special needs parent is sitting in the foyer with their child, you don’t let them sit alone. You go to the foyer and sit with them, letting them know you are glad they made the effort to be there even if they are unable to sit in the sanctuary.

    You recognize that holy moments can happen walking in the church parking lot walking side-by-side with a parent pushing their child in a wheelchair. Sometimes Church is too overwhelming for some kids with sensory issues.

    You call when you notice the special needs family didn’t make it to church. This lets them know you see them, they are not invisible, and that you care.

    You recognize that every person, regardless of ability or disability, is an invaluable member of the Body of Christ.

    You are okay with messy because the very essence of life is that it is messy.

    You recognize that everyone belongs, and everyone serves.

    You are willing to try new things to include everyone. When that doesn’t work out, you try again with something new.

    You function as a family, everyone has a role to play, and everyone is supported and valued.

    You love.

    • 15 min
    Episode 17: Disability Ministry Is Not An Elective

    Episode 17: Disability Ministry Is Not An Elective

    Sometimes Christian Ministry conferences are not addressing the needs of Special Needs families and kids with disabilities. It is often not in their radar.

    People need to understand the WHY. Why have a disability ministry. Why it is important to care for and include kids (and adults) with disabilities in our churches. Sometimes people care about the HOW or focus on the HOW without first understanding the WHY.

    Secular organizations have loved and valued our kids before we, as a Church, have done so. This is something that should break our hearts, and perhaps we need to repent and seek ways in which we lead the way in how to include and love those impacted by disability.

    We can physically include kids with disabilities in our Children's programs, but that does not mean they are meaningfully included.

    There is a theology of "welcoming." A theology that says, "You are valuable." Saying yes to families impacted by disability is a theological milestone in that we become who we ought to be as a church and we follow what Scripture tells us to do.

    Disability ministry is not an elective. It should not be an elective at church, and it should not be an elective at Leadership conferences.

    Having a disability ministry is not a grandiose heroic measure. It is what we are called to do.

    People with disabilities and families impacted by disability are not projects. They are people. People who need to hear the gospel and be a part of our faith communities.

    We have, unfortunately, failed to be the Church to people impacted by disability. But, we can change that!

    • 38 min
    Is Every Child Welcome in Your Church? [Podcast]

    Is Every Child Welcome in Your Church? [Podcast]

    What we covered in the show:

    1. What prompted Jolene and Katie to write "Every Child Welcome

    2. What advice Jolene and Katie have for churches that want to start a special needs ministry

    3. What to do if a church isn't big enough for a formal special needs ministry. What can individuals do to welcome families of kids with special needs?

    4. Changes in churches over the years in regards to welcoming kids with disabilities.

    5. Jolene and Katie discuss strategies for maintaining inclusion as children become teens.

    Quotes from the show:

    Make it understandable for every church volunteers or church leaders in a way that makes it understandable.

    Structure, familiarity, and routine can be very helpful for kids with disabilities.

    Good teaching for kids with special needs is just plain good teaching.

    Disability ministry is about people and not about programs.

    We don't need to know the details and what the diagnosis is, it is our job to make them feel comfortable and accepted.

    Parents need Sundays to go well too.

    Every Child Welcome

    • 47 min
    Episode 14: When Church Hurts [Podcast]

    Episode 14: When Church Hurts [Podcast]

    Join me as I interview Christ Morris from Redefining Normal. Building Hope about what it is like to walk into a church as a special needs family, and what happens when church hurts.

    Questions for reflection:

    What could the church have done differently in the situation the Morris family faced?

    Why is it that in some faith communities there is still a belief that disability is a result of demon possession?

    What should the leadership of a church do when these comments are said about families impacted by disability?

    How often should a church be talking about what the Bible has to say about disability?

    What should churches do to educate their congregations on issues of disability?

    Think about your church, what can your church do to embrace disability?

    The power of story:

    Stories are powerful agents of change. They teach us and inspire us to change, to move to action, and to create solutions. Sharing stories about what happens when church hurts are shared not to berate the church, but to encourage us all to find solutions. To dig deep into the word of God and to know God's heart towards people and families impacted by disability.

    The Morris family has found a church family where they belong, but it did not come without pain in other places. What if they had walked away after their first negative and painful experience? Are there families missing in our churches because they too were faced with accusations and myths about disability? what can we, the church, do to restore and heal those families who have been hurt?

    • 42 min
    Episode 13: What Does the Bible Say About Disability [Podcast]

    Episode 13: What Does the Bible Say About Disability [Podcast]

    From the show:

    Churches do not often address issues regarding disability.

    Disability often results in discrimination, even within the church. A good question for us to ask is, against whom are we discriminating? We are familiar with discrimination, but a group we rarely talk about when it comes to discrimination is individuals with disabilities.

    The fact of the matter is no denomination is reaching out to people with disabilities and it's not just a blind spot, it is a point of disobedience. The only reason we think it is okay not to do something about it is because nobody else is either. If everybody in every church is not taking in people with disabilities, then nobody has to. It is a pervasive sin. It says we are not willing to love other people who appears to be different from us.

    My dear brother and sisters how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over other people.

    If we chose not to love specific neighbors, then who are we as the church? James 2:1 NLT

    Christian churches have accessible bathrooms because the government forced us to, not because of a desire to reach out to people with disabilities.

    Solutions can be simple, but they cause us to change our traditions.

    How do we facilitate people with disabilities to express their gifting?

    What supports do we need to have in place so they can serve?

    What does the Bible have to say about disability, a mash dash through the Bible:

    The whole Bible applies to everybody, including those with disabilities

    Genesis 2: We are created in the image of God people with disabilities are created in the image of God

    Genesis 4: God does create people with disabilities and He accomplishes His purposes through them.

    John 9: Disability is not a result of sin. We are all sinners, if disability was a result of sin, all our children would be disabled.

    God places all parts of the Body, exactly where He wanted them to be.

    Sometimes the different parts of the body tell other parts of the body, “You are not what I want you to be, you are not part of the body.” Sometimes they’ve been told that so many times they come to believe that perhaps they are not part of the body. But all parts of the body are integral to the body or we cannot function as a body. The parts we think are less honorable, we are to treat those with special honor. What would it look like to treat someone with special honor? I change. I change in order to treat them with special honor.

    Mark 7:8,14 says "You exchange the commands of God for the traditions of men."

    "In order to integrate you I have to change everything the way I’ve been doing it, stick with my traditions. I will stick to my traditions and then exclude you."

    What do you say when a church says, “I am not called” to disability ministry.

    When 20% are individuals with disabilities with a larger number of people impacted by it, how can I say I am not going to reach out to those people? When pastors say “I am not impacted” that is not a positive thing to say.

    Why will I not love you? Because you are going to cause me to change and change my traditions. You will cause us to becomes who we should become. You will cause us to learn how to love people.

    The church is complicit in devaluing people.

    Disability is just a characteristic, and often times it is no relevant to the interaction we have with others or for people to be part of the Body.

    If we are missing people with disabilities, it points to the fact that we are not loving our neighbor.

    A word of encouragement from Jeff:

    In the last 10 years, positive changes have happened.

    • 53 min
    Episode 12: Champions Club: A Ministry Model For Kids With Disabilities In the Church [Podcast]

    Episode 12: Champions Club: A Ministry Model For Kids With Disabilities In the Church [Podcast]

    Our guest today is Craig Johnson, founder of Champions Club, a ministry model for kids with disabilities in the church that can be easily replicated at any church of any size. Join us today as we talk about how Champions Club works, why it works, and how the curriculum makes it to easy to minister to kids with disabilities.

    From the show:

    Champions Club is a specially designed developmental area for kids, youth, and adults with disabilities. The goal is to develop a program that meets the developmental needs of children in four important ways, SPIRITUALLY, INTELLECTUALLY, MENTALLY, and PHYSICALLY. The focus is on spiritual growth through God’s Word, developing the intellect of each participant through the five senses, educationally through various learning tools, as well as engaging the child physically during active gross motor fun. We can adapt Champions Clubs to a school or public facility environment. Now there are Champions Clubs in schools, churches, and facilities all across America and around the world.

    Craig shares how being a special needs dad, and being in charge of the different ministries at Lakewood Church, he felt God speaking to him about doing something for special needs families

    The main two elements when creating champions club was first, dealing with the rejection is prevalent for special needs families. They wanted to have everything set up so that nobody would be turned away. Second, it had to serve the parents as much as it served the children.

    Champions Club includes four stations, and children rotate between the four stations.

    Church leading the way.

    Champions Club has a desire to lead the way in what it means to include and develop children with disabilities.

    Kids learn how they respond to God, and how God responds to them.

    Champions Club is a model that is easily duplicated regardless of church size or budget. It focuses on inclusion, belonging, and developing of kids with disabilities.

    Learn more about Champions Club HERE.

    The most important training of leaders has to do with their heart response to people with disabilities. If they understand the need, the message, and grab the passion for it, that passion spreads to more people.

    Most people do not have anything for special needs, including publishers who put our curriculum for children. Champions Club created a curriculum specifically written and created to connect with the hearts and minds of children with disabilities.

    • 33 min

Customer Reviews

AGiallou ,

Support for Families and Church Ministries

As an advocate for persons with disabilities I highly recommend this podcast. Parishes should seriously consider listening to Ellen's podcasts. I love the variety of topics. Great job!

Hufflepuff25 ,

Life Changing

I am thankful for this new podcast. I stumbled upon it while searching online for anything that would help my church be more open to people of all abilities. What I didn't expect was the personal impact. As a single mom living with my own physical/medical disability and raising 3 wonderful teens on the Spectrum I found myself deeply moved and impacted by the shared experiences of the presenters. I also am being wonderfully challenged and learning of how I can help and love others. I highly recommend this podcast for Church Leaders, Youth workers, Parents and anyone willing to walk with people a little different from yourself.

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