News release: ABC journey of disability inclusion

News release: ABC journey of disability inclusion

Sarah, Chief Candle Snuffer (Luke 5 Award nominator)

Disability charity Through the Roof is calling on all UK churches to join the ABC journey of disability inclusion, from Access to Belonging to Commission. We are sharing a new framework – the ABC model. It is a simple tool for churches to show that disability inclusion is about more than just access.

Disabled people are hugely under-represented in the Church. 24% of the UK are disabled people: so nearly ¼ of the total UK population. That is more than the percentage of under 18s – yet our churches do not always reflect that percentage, and there is rarely any support or ministry in churches specifically for disabled people.

Many barriers: social as well as physical

There are many barriers faced by disabled people to their spiritual life. Access to church buildings is just the first step. People can still feel excluded once they are in a church, if they do not feel like they belong, or that their gifts are valued.

The later steps, B for Belonging and C for Commission, are essential parts of the ABC journey, as Sarah’s story clearly shows:

“I have Down’s Syndrome and severe hearing loss… . I felt excluded at church because everyone had a job, and I didn’t. Our Churchwardens included me. I am now the ‘chief snuffer’. I snuff out the candles after the service. I am happy because I am helping and I feel part of a team.”

Read more here on Sarah’s church life being transformed. Sarah’s experience of feeling left out is common. Churches often think about practical access to church, but that’s where they stop. At Through the Roof, we are sharing the ABC to show that disability inclusion is a journey, with Access as the starting point. Belonging is a crucial next step, which leads on to the Commission of disabled people to use their giftings.

What is the ABC model?

The ABC is a simple three-part framework which forms a natural progression to help people think through how to include disabled people. It reflects the fact that disability inclusion in church and Christian life is a journey through different stages.

Here is a summary of the ABC model Through the Roof uses, working with churches and people across all disabilities to enable: Access, Belonging and Commission…  

  • Access: For everyone to know Jesus, with disabled people fully welcomed into Christian life  
  • Belonging: For everyone to grow together as the family of God, with disabled people flourishing in community with others  
  • Commission: For everyone to reflect the character of Jesus, with disabled people making disciples, to the glory of God.

Find out more about the ABC at

How does Through the Roof help?

Through the Roof’s ‘Roofbreaker’ initiative encourages all churches or ministries to have a nominated Roofbreaker disability champion. Or it could be a team of Roofbreakers, who are available to connect with disabled people, listening to challenges they face. Roofbreakers travel alongside people through the ABC journey, supporting them in finding ways around any barriers to being fully included in church and Christian life.

66% of churches say they need ideas about how to include disabled people in church activities (ComRes/Savanta). Through the Roof can help your church or ministry with:

  • a FREE 2 hour Zoom Disability Awareness workshop for churches who appoint a disability champion or ‘Roofbreaker’
  • access to a free downloadable ‘Church Toolkit’ and 'Removing Barriers' church accessibility audit, available to all Roofbreaker disability champions
  • a 50% discount on Through the Roof resources to all Roofbreakers
  • advice and support from one of three Roofbreaker Co-ordinators covering the whole of the UK, to encourage disability inclusion in all churches
  • support through monthly emails, events, social media and Roofbreaker Networks.

Katie Mobbs, Roofbreaker Team Leader, who is herself a wheelchair user says:
“I am so excited about the ABC journey because I believe that it is a pathway for more disabled people to be released for mission, sharing their gifts and skills to the glory of God. The ABC acronym is easy to remember, so it reminds us of God’s ‘Great Commission’. It represents an invitation for each and everyone of us – it is the Gospel in action.”

What can I do?

Help your church to include disabled people – become a Roofbreaker!

You don’t need to be an expert in disability to be  Roofbreaker disability champion. All you need to do is be available to connect with disabled people in your church or community, helping to break down barriers to Access, Belonging and Commission.

With a Roofbreaker, your church can send a positive message to disabled people by joining our online map of Roofbreaker churches. You can be on the map whether your church or ministry is just starting, or continuing, on the ABC journey towards better disability inclusion.

Find out how your church can be blessed by the full involvement of disabled people at: or @TTRChangesLives on social media.