How Churches Can Engage Individuals with Disabilities

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Because the weak, not the strong form the church, people with disabilities are at the center of what it means to be the people of God. This moving illustration reveals the negative light that is sometimes cast on people with disabilities, and it encourages all believers to acknowledge that every member of Christ's body can do good work for Him by His grace.

The church needs people with disabilities to be reminded that God hardly ever does things the way we imagine. He uses the least expected people (the broken, rejected, and marginalized) to achieve His purpose. How can churches embrace our greatest blessing: seeing the power of God made manifest and exalted in the brokenness of people who live with a disability?

Matt Mooney, founder of 99 Balloons and author of A Story Unfinished, shares the story behind 99 Balloons, an organization he and his wife Ginny started that engages individuals with disabilities both in a local and global context.

How do you personally respond to those who live with disabilities or special needs? What encourages you about their life? What have you learned from them?
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In this next video, Matt explains how 99 Balloons helps churches, individuals and organizations engage persons with disabilities.

Think about the people who live with a disability in your church or small group. How are you welcoming and engaging them?
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How are you teaching others to be more welcoming and engaging to people with disabilities? What can your church do to make it easier for people with disabilities feel that they are part of the church community?
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What resources or programs does your church provide for families who live with disabilities? What can your church or small group do to provide a safe haven for them?
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In this next clip, Matt explains how 99 Balloons focuses on building a community around families dealing with the diagnosis of a disability.

Matt said, "That oftentimes—the diagnosis—makes you feel, as a family, isolated. Makes you as a marriage, feel isolated from your peers. The way that the world is set up, whether that’s at a church or that’s in a restaurant, now all of a sudden don’t really work for your family."

How does your ministry serve families who have received a diagnosis of a disability? Do you have resources or counseling within your ministry or do you connect people with support outside your ministry? How do you make sure people who are new to disabilities feel accepted, prayed over and loved?
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In this video clip,  Matt  talks about how 99 Balloons comes alongside churches and individuals who have a desire to develop a ministry for persons with disabilities in their church and community.

Who in your ministry, has a heart for people with disabilities? How can you come alongside them to encourage them and provide the resources they need?
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In this last clip, Matt talks about the importance of including persons with disabilities to be part of the family of God in your home, community and in churches. 

At the end of the clip, Matt asked important question that churches, small groups, and ministries need to answer. Take a moment to answer these questions now. 

"If you look in your pews on Sundays, where are the persons with disabilities?"
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"The statistics are staggering on the inability for these persons to be included in the church community. So what can we do about it?"
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"What can we do with our missions budget? What can we do with the things that are already going on? How can we be sure and work hard for these persons to be included?"
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Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did  one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me."
                                                                                   ~ Matthew 25:40, (MSG)

For more information about 99 Balloons please go HERE.