1. Welcome everyone that comes through the door
At this time of year we reflect on and celebrate what happened when Jesus came into the world as a tiny baby and people from all walks of life came to visit him.
What does it look like for us to welcome individuals from all walks of life to our churches?
Sometimes when we encounter someone who is different from us, we can find it hard to know what to do.
Just like Mary and Joseph welcomed both the shepherds and the wise men, we can choose to smile, choose to say hello, choose to have a conversation with everyone that comes through the door, even if they seem different to us.
2. Listen and respond
How often do we listen and then respond to requests that are made of us?
Additional needs are wide ranging, they can be a physical, cognitive, mental health or undiagnosed need that impacts everyday participation. When we welcome individuals with additional needs into our churches it is really important that we listen and respond to the needs in front of us.
We can feel free to ask people what they need - they are the experts in what works for them!
We can be mindful of things which might make a difference. Small things like ear defenders if it’s too noisy, a pipe cleaner to fiddle with, and a break in your service to move around, can all help with everyone being able to join in. We’ve seen these things make a big difference to families who haven’t been able to come to church before and who can now access church.
3. Rejoice and celebrate
The angels filled the sky to rejoice and celebrate the birth of Jesus. Let’s rejoice in the same way and celebrate the way we’ve been made with differences – we’re all unique and amazing individuals, with different skills and abilities.
4. See beauty in the unexpected
The wise men might not have expected to find the king of the Jews in an ordinary family home. The lowly shepherds may have expected to be turned away from the birth of the Messiah. Yet, their encounter with Jesus gave them hope that he may also be for ordinary people like them.
This Christmas let’s choose to see beauty in the unexpected, to look past our own initial judgements and choose to see the love, joy, peace, and hope that we can then recognise in individuals around us.
5. Look to the future- make preparations that last!
Jesus came as a light to the world for all people. This Christmas let’s choose to make preparations for people who are both similar and different to us in a way that means that everyone, whether they have additional needs or not, can come and easily participate as part of our church community.
If you’d like help with this, Growing Hope has developed an accessibility award to support you to gain bronze, silver or gold accessibility status in your church. To find out more, email email@example.com
or visit www.growinghope.org.uk