The Family Table: The Place We All Belong

A Sermon Series on Biblical Foundations of Belonging

a graphic in blue with the words "the family table the plae we all belong" and an image of a table

This sermon series explores the ten dimensions of belonging to a community: being present, invited, welcomed, known, accepted, supported, cared for, befriended, needed, and loved. These dimensions of belonging were discovered by Dr. Erik Carter in his work with families whose children have disabilities. Families identified these dimensions and Dr. Carter has refined what it means to belong based on their input. This sermon series was inspired by a learning session with Dr. Carter. For more on the story of how it came to be, read this blog post (8-minute read).

For an overview of the 10 dimensions of belonging, see Dr. Erik Carter’s presentations:

  • A Place of Belonging (article on SAGEPUB.com)
  • Fostering Belonging (webpage hosted by Boston College School of Theology and Ministry) with video clips, handouts, and more)
  • January Series at Calvin, a webpage where Erk Carter provides video of a 1-hour seminar, along with handouts, slides a guide, and reflection tool for congregations

It is important to define disability for the purpose of this sermon series. The 10 dimensions of belonging apply to all people, but this sermon series explores the way persons with disabilities, specifically, find belonging in the congregation. Disabilities may be visible or hidden and include mental health challenges. Disabilities may come or be discovered before, at or after birth. They may come with age, illness, injury, or other trauma.

7 Weeks on the Dimensions of Belonging for People of All Abilities

Click on the buttons below to explore each week of the sermon series. To print out or see the entire series in one document, see this Sermon Series Outline

Explore the concepts further with a small group, on your own, or as a class using the Study Guide (below).

1: God's Heart of Welcome: Present

present color

2: Radical Inclusion: Invited, Welcomed

Invited Welcomed

3: I See You: Known, Accepted

4: Whatever It Takes: Supported, Cared For

Supported n Cared For

5: No Longer Strangers: Befriended

befriended color

6: Better Together: Needed

7: The Way of Love: Loved

loved color

Additional Resources

Abbs, Deborah Meyer. Belonging: Accessibility, Inclusion and Christian Community; 2021, InterVarsity Press.

Bolt, Sarah. Your Feet, My Shoes; 2009, All Belong.

Gehan, Mary Beth. Irresistible Invitation: A Bible study on God’s Extravagant Love for People with Disabilities; 2018, Mary Beth Gehan.

Grcevich, Stephen. Mental Health and the Church; 2018, Zondervan

Hardwick, Lamar. Disability and the Church: A Vision for Diversity and Inclusion; 2021, InterVarsity Press.

Hubach, Stephanie. Same Lake, Different Boat; Revised and updated 2020, P & R Publishing Co.

Newman, Barbara. Accessible Gospel, Inclusive Worship; 2014, All Belong.

Newman, Barbara. Body Building: Devotions Celebrating Inclusive Community; 2009, All Belong

Philo, Jolene and Weatherbee, Katie. Every Child Welcome; 2015, Kregel Publications.

Roberts, Tony. Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission; 2014, A Way With Words Publishing.

Winstrom, David. I Choose Adam; 2017, Lighting Tree Creative Media.

Study Guide

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Download [2.65 MB]

To print the PDF version of the Sermon Series, click here: Sermon Series at FPC