People with disabilities are often excluded from full participation in church communities. Accessibility is a key component of the biblical ministry of reconciliation—but it's not enough. To truly work toward reconciliation, churches must both consider the theological implications of disability and also become places where people with disabilities lead.
Disabling Leadership presents a practical theology of disability for thoughtful church leaders and congregants. Written by practitioners and a scholar-pastor who are engaged in ministry together, this book encompasses cutting-edge theological ethics as well as stories of how such commitments are embodied in a real church community. The authors equip readers to explore key themes such as:
Disabling Leadership moves beyond paternalistic views of disability that seek to extract "inspiration" from another's story without engaging in the difficult work of just and dignifying relationships. When we foster genuinely inclusive leadership teams, the authors contend, our churches will be less likely to treat anyone as a "project" and will better reflect God's love as the body of Christ.
"To what degree has the church in North America been disabling leadership due to its presumptions that people with disabilities are more followers rather than given gifts of leading? Draper, Michele, and Mae here pull back the curtain on their own experiences navigating these questions as such persons called to ministry with other temporarily enabled individuals, and they invite the rest of us into a more welcoming community that envisions and embodies more inclusive ways of following in the footsteps of Jesus the Messiah in the present time."
"While many books on disability and church focus on welcoming people with disabilities as participants, Disabling Leadership articulates a crucial and distinctively theological framework for welcoming their leadership as well. Helpfully included is concrete guidance for communities who seek to live out the richness of the diversity of the body of Christ—including diversity of abilities and disabilities—in every facet of their communal life. A welcome addition to the disability theology conversation."
"I have had the genuine privilege of seeing the team ministry described in this book in action. For Draper, Michele, and Mae the ministry of the differently abled is not aspiration but reality, and in Disabling Leadership they accessibly show how theologically rich and interpersonally rewarding such ministry can be. This book shifts the goalpost: mere inclusion of disabled people is not what the church needs. What it needs—and needs desperately—is the leadership of differently abled members of Christ's broken and gloriously resurrected body."
"In a post-ADA world, the church should be asking, Where is the disability community and more importantly where are the leaders among them? Sadly the church at large has missed this. Andrew Draper, Jody Michele, and Andrea Mae do a superb job of together explaining why shared leadership is vital to the whole church community. Being in relationship with these three over years has been an encouragement to me as a cerebral palsy man, to be able to reimagine what is possible in my own home church. I'm so grateful that now that this story and these insights are offered in this book!"
1. A Theology of Leadership and Disability
2. Learning from People with Disabilities
3. Inclusive Church Leadership
4. Creating an Accessible Community