Excitement hangs in the air when a person in a wheelchair finds a church that has ramps, door openers, pew cuts and welcoming persons. Excitement stirs inside a person with cognitive challenges when a church has a mentor program and socialization opportunities. If a persons witnesses sign language or worship leaders with impairments, they feel the hospitality. These and many other provisions help make up the environment of a church.
Conditions that surround people affect the way they feel, act and react. If these conditions are correct in a church, visitors with special needs will sense a welcome, even an attitude of “We need you. Please join us.” Such an environment invites outsiders to come in, sit with friends and say, “Ah. At last I have found a home.” And to the surprise of everyone, the entire congregation attains a feeling of satisfaction and wholeness. They enjoy the new depth of understanding and gifts brought into their circle.
Creating an inviting environment doesn’t happen overnight. It happens when interested persons, including persons with special needs, undertake a study of needs and possibilities and set out to help transform the climate of a church. Everyone is surprised that it hasn’t been taken care of.
The Environment section will provide tools leaders may use to enhance understanding of special needs, including an important safety paper on how to prepare for disasters and smaller emergencies. These articles will reveal tremendous opportunities just waiting to be captured.
- Emergency Planning
- Prepare for an Emergency if You Use Mobility Equipment
- Noticing Needs
- Speaking Welcome
- Planning Sheet for Events
- How Much Will Accessibility Cost in Money?
- Pew Cards
- How to Conduct an Accessibility Audit
- Story for sermon or group
- Skit: “May I Come Up and Play?”
- Image of God Reading