Disability and the Church
Lamar Hardwick was thirty-six years old when he found out he was on the autism spectrum. While this revelation helped him understand and process his own experience, it also prompted a difficult re-evaluation of who he was as a person. And as a pastor, it started him on a new path of considering the way disabled people are treated in the church.
Disability and the Church is a practical and theological reconsideration of the church's responsibilities to the disabled community. Too often disabled persons are pushed away from the church or made to feel unwelcome in any number of ways. As Hardwick writes, "This should not be." He insists that the good news of Jesus affirms God's image in all people, and he offers practical steps and strategies to build stronger, truly inclusive communities of faith.
"In a time when first-person disability narratives remain hard to come by, Disability and the Church presents a marvelous example of the power of disabled voices in the church. Rev. Dr. Hardwick provides his readers with a powerful message about not only accepting people with disabilities but including them as church leaders. Masterfully interweaving his personal narrative with Scripture and the history of the Christian church, Hardwick offers an insightful look into the what it means to pastor a church while on the autism spectrum, as well as practical tips for developing inclusive churches that take the wisdom of disability experience seriously. Disability and the Church is essential reading for church leaders and seminarians who desire to make their places of worship inclusive, diverse, and faithful to God's call by placing disability at the heart of the conversation."
"A disability is not a sickness or even necessarily a weakness. It is just a limitation, a uniqueness, that enables a person to make a vitally important and distinctive contribution to life and to the Christian community. At the same time, to some in the church a person with a disability could appear to seem 'the weakest and least important' member of the Jesus community, but instead they are to be viewed as 'the most necessary' and to be embraced 'with the greatest care' (1 Corinthians 12:22-23). Pastor Lamar has provided a bridge into Christ's church for those who are 'disabled' or 'other-abled,' a bridge that seems essential to the nature and mission of the church. Lamar has provided that bridge with this excellent work and with his own life, pastoral leadership, and scholarship."
1. Born This Way
2. Begin at the Banquet
3. A Better Question
4. Barriers to Inclusion
5. Building a Learning Culture
6. Building a Linking Culture
7. Building a Leadership Culture
8. The Future of Faith