Thursday, October 04, 2012

Post-Paralympics, what's changed?

I was quite challenged by this discussion starter on the new Church Growth Research Programme website

My team did quite a bit of research for a major Diocese, looking at the growth rates for churches that said they were more accessible for disabilities (hearing, sight, autism, wheelchair access etc). The more accessible, the faster the growth - even for small rural Listed churches. 

Why? Who knows. But it's true in outside industry that a more accessible building and warm welcome for difference is a good thing for everyone, not just the disabled person. But fascinating that at present so few churches even buy a £10 large print bible or hymn book, let alone spend £10 on tape to edge doors and steps so that those with visual impairment can see where they are. 

Clergy get no training on disability, therefore may have no clue how to maximise growth and serve their 14 million disabled parishioners well (even leaving aside the Equality Act 2010 which makes it illegal to fail to do so). 

What could we do to investigate this further, I wonder?

Hands up, I loved the paralympics, joined in the chorus of approval, but it hasn't led to me doing anything tangible as a church leader to make our church more inclusive to people with disabilities. We print off large print versions of the songs each week, but there's probably a lot more we could do.

1 comment:

  1. David: I think the cause and effect is probably the other way round. Churches that are growing are probably also those that tend to feel upbeat enough to make the necessary arrangemens for people with disabilities. Or perhaps there is a common cause: church that have healthier underlying values tend to be growing and tend to make better provision for those with disabilities.