Rawlings School of Divinity
Doctor of Education in Christian Leadership (EdD)
disability, image of God, minority, inclusivity
Christianity | Leadership Studies
Thompson, Laurie E., "The Impact of Preaching the Image of God as Disability-Inclusive" (2023). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 4867.
According to Howard (2010), the North American Mission Board (NAMB) considers the disabled community in America to be unreached by the church. Hardwick (2021) also writes, “The disability community is the most unique community, the largest minority group in the world” (p. 12). This quantitative descriptive research study explored the frequency of preaching the biblical principle imago Dei, found in Genesis 1:27, in a way that includes the disabled, and how this preaching may impact disability-inclusivity in the church. The Word of God states, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them” (New International Version, 2011, Genesis 1:27). The biblical principle of imago Dei is inclusive of the disabled. Disability-inclusivity is also necessary for the church to be true to its original design and purpose to fulfill the Great Commission and the Greatest Commandments. The role of the pastor is significant in the initiating of a disability-inclusivity mindset by setting an example through his own attitudes and preaching. Solid foundational preaching on how imago Dei is disability-inclusive is necessary for the church to value the disabled from a biblical worldview and be motivated to reach them with the Gospel. This study included the collection of quantitative data from a random sample population of 131 Southern Baptist senior pastors in the state of South Carolina. Data was collected via a survey to determine the frequency Genesis 1:27 is preached and whether the preaching is intentionally disability-inclusive. The majority of survey participants indicated that they preach on Genesis 1:27 once a year (29.37%) or more than once a year (38.89%). However, when surveyed on preaching this passage as intentionally disability-inclusive, 69.87% of survey participants answered “yes”, while 30.16% answered “no”. There is much to be done in the church to change the current trajectory.