I would like to choose a Christian Organisation
Many people will want to choose Prospects for support because of the faith dimension
The faith dimension
Prospects is all about choice and that includes matters of faith. We believe that people with learning disabilities have a right to explore faith and live a faith lifestyle.
We see the faith dimension of our work as adding genuine value to the service we provide. We believe that the lives of people with learning disabilities can be enhanced by being part of the loving, accepting and learning communities which churches can be.
Supporting people in their faith choices
Many people with learning disabilities will need varying levels of support with everyday life. The same applies with faith matters; people will need to be supported if they choose a faith lifestyle. For Christians living a lifestyle compatible with the teachings of the bible is vital and this is what Prospects aims to do. Supporting people to freely express their chosen lifestyle is important and integral to individual self esteem and life aspirations.
Working with local churches
Prospects supports churches throughout the UK, encouraging them to be inclusive in the way they welcome people with learning disabilities. We provide ministry training for church leaders and ministry teams, and we publish resources to make many aspects of pastoral care, worship, preaching and Bible teaching more accessible.
It makes good sense, because with 1.5 million people with learning disabilities living in the UK, every church in the country has a mission field on its doorstep. Today, we’re working in partnership with over 200 churches of all denominations, and that means that we’re involved in helping more than 2,500 people with learning disabilities to play a full part in regular Bible study, worship and fellowship. Our vision for the next five years is to increase the number of church partners from 200 to 350.
Achieving that will put an inclusive church within reach of everyone in the UK.
I don’t mind people knowing thatI struggled with church because of my learning disability. I just couldn’t understand what people were talking about in church. Then I started going to a Prospects group. They helped me to learn about Jesus, how he died for us and about forgiving everybody. Sarah Redgrove, Lincoln
Spreading the word
Alongside our work with churches, we also run specialist streams at Christian conferences. People can come along to the sessions and enjoy preaching, teaching and worship which is delivered with them in mind.
‘The joy and openness in worship complements the atmosphere of support and acceptance for all who come,’ says David Bradley of the Keswick Convention, one of the conferences we’ve been working with since the 1990s. These sessions are also invaluable in another way. They challenge people at the conferences to take back home what they’ve seen and heard to their churches.
Says Tony Phelps-Jones: ‘What we’re saying to the churches is, see what we do, take it back to your community, introduce it to your church.’ Over the years, hundreds of people have done exactly that, and their churches are now places which include people with learning disabilities as full and valued members of their communities.
Joining a group, belonging to the community
A key part of our strategy in working with churches is encouraging them to set up a ministry group. The group offers people simplified Bible teaching, interactive worship and a style of meeting where everyone feels welcome and valued. It gives people the chance to grow spiritually and to give and receive support to others in the group.
Less than one-third of people with learning disabilities are able to read, and so we have developed worship materials that don’t depend on people having to sing from hymn books. We also encourage churches to include people with learning disabilities in everything they do, rather than separating them into a group on their own. We show how they can confidently welcome them to their midweek prayer meeting, Saturday barbecue, or the church weekend away. That way, churches can become inclusive and welcoming, treating people with the dignity they deserve and sharing the good news with them.
The Prospects Group blesses our church in so many ways. For example, in their infectious faith and joy in worship. Rev Paul Hinckley, St Peter’s, Yateley, Hampshire
A question of choice
Some of the people we support choose not to explore faith matters and we fully respect their decision. In turn, they are happy with the professional support we provide, which is given regardless of what they believe.
But many more choose to follow their faith, and we support them as they live as Christians and become involved in the life of their local church community.