Joni & Friends seeks to mobilize the global church to evangelize, disciple, and serve people living with a disability. Their goal is to continue to implement a global plan that builds geographically localized networks of churches that inspire, train, and mobilize the Church worldwide to build a culture that embraces individuals and families affected by disabilities as an indispensable part of the body of Christ.
When churches are for, with, and by people affected by disability, relationships – that is belonging – supersede programs. This strategy includes evaluating church traditions for inclusiveness, exploring how people are valued by the church considering a biblical worldview, understanding the importance of belonging (being wanted and needed), engaging those with disabilities without any preconceptions, and the role that obedience to God’s Word plays in changing the culture of a church.
Training resources that center around a biblical worldview on disability and a 5-stage process of church culture change are central to building and supporting the 36 networks established in the past two years.
Listen to Episode 31 of the podcast and access the show notes below.
Future Church Insights:
- There are 61 million people affected by disability in the United States. That’s one in five people. One in three families.
- Through training and resources, we can equip you and your church with practical tools for including people of all abilities in the life and ministry of your church, helping people with disabilities find their place in the body of Christ.
- People with disabilities are considered one of the world’s largest under-represented groups. The church is largely unprepared for the burgeoning disabled population.
Goals and Desired Outcomes of Joni and Friends:
- Networks of leaders from churches and Christian organizations are formed in all metropolitan areas across the United States for providing training, encouragement, and collaboration, while working through a 5-stage process of church culture change, resulting in a world where every person with a disability finds hope, dignity, and their place in the body of Christ.
- Institutions and organizations equipping leaders to plant churches will include biblical understanding and training for evangelizing, discipling, and serving people living with a disability.
- Vision casting and training opportunities for evangelizing, discipling, and serving people living with disabilities will be improved and more effectively implemented through pastors and church leaders around the world.
Key Quotes from the episode from Bret Welshymer:
“People are people, and everybody has a place in the church family. When you get to know somebody, you can help them to be a part of the family. If you never take the time to get to know them, that’s not going to happen.”
“Until we get past that point of unawareness and ignorance about the disability community, we’re not going to be prepared to welcome and include them in our churches.”
“The disability community is likely the largest hidden people unreached group in the world today. We have an opportunity through the local church right here in the United States to reach that people group.”