Have you seen any of the Ten Ways Tools published by our friends at Faith Formation Ministries of the Christian Reformed Church? We recently teamed up with them to create a set of recommendations to help adult small groups become more welcoming to all people. Last week, we shared the first Four Ways. Here are the final Six.
5. Equip Small Group Leaders to Include People of All Abilities
Offer training or links to websites offering information on topics such as autism spectrum disorder, mental illness, or building social on-ramps in small groups. Let your volunteers know that you will support and equip them as they create a community that values and welcomes each one present. Here are some tools to get you started:
• Tips for adapting sessions to the needs of your group
• Posts on the CLC Network blog
6. Show Moderation in Sensations
Some people equate “loud” with fun and excitement. Others equate “loud” with significant pain and a fear of returning to that setting. Each person’s God-designed brain is responsible for interpreting sounds, tastes, smells, sights, touch, and much more. Consider the wide variety of responses as you cue up your guitar player or pianist, prepare a small group event, light candles or incense, or freely distribute hugs. Read more about sensory issues in children’s settings or in worship settings.
7. Do Your Part
Every individual has a role to play when creating a more inclusive community—from the person purchasing products for the restrooms, to the small group leader, to the fellow small group member who is reacting to an individual who has social differences. Check out this list and find your part.
8. Complete an Accessibility Audit
Use a guide to evaluate your meeting space as well as your attitudes. Target some specific areas of change. This article on the CRC Disability Concerns blog can get you started.
9. Be Ready to Make Individual Modifications
While there are many ways to welcome persons of varied abilities, there will be times when you will want to put together some supports for just one person. Whether that includes an action plan for a group member with a seizure disorder, a specific network of friends for an individual with autism spectrum disorder, or rides to small group meetings and physical support for a person who has experienced a stroke—be watchful for persons who may need that extra plan to better belong within the small group community. Remember to think not only about modifications but also about how this person’s gifts can be used in God’s service within your group and beyond.
10. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
There are terrific supports already available:
• Use the curriculum resources available through TOGETHER.
• Use the website and regional advocates available through Disability Concerns, the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, and the CLC Network. These organizations are ready to support your small group as you seek to create a more inclusive community.
Love this resource? Click here for a printable version that you can share!
Ten Ways to be a More Inclusive and Welcoming Small Group was developed by Friendship Ministries in conjunction with Faith Formation Ministries of the Christian Reformed Church and the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.