Questionnaire on Disability and Christian aid agencies/ theological education centres

Dear readers,

In September 2019, a global questionnaire study on Disability Studies and Intercultural Theology was carried out (see below; PDF version here questionnaire print version Fragebogen Print-Version SoSci). The aim was to find out how Christian Development Services are prepared for church employees who work abroad and have a physical or mental enrollment or are parents of children with such challenges. It was asked to what extent Christian development services meet inclusive requirements and how employees with such restrictions feel in the area of ​​member support and recruitment.

The questionnaire study described below was completed by 23 participants from the global church development service. A questionnaire evaluation can be found here as PDF Auswertung Questionnaire or here as Word.docx Auswertung Questionnaire (please click).

January 2020

Eberhard Werner



Dear Friends, Colleagues or interested parties,

The Network on Disability Studies and Intercultural Theology (NeDSITh) is interested in knowing how individuals, organizations or institutions involved with Christian development deal with disability and people with mobility or mental impairment. The audience for this study are parents of a child with a disability, people with disabilities themselves, and people that are caring for those with a physical or mental disability. One question asked here is how Christian development organizations or institutions are taking an Inclusive stance nowadays. The focus here is mainly on insider (emic) experience (e.g. parents with a child with special needs), but would also allow for those that are working with people with disability.


The 20 questions will not take you longer than 10 minutes. We ask you to spend that time to get a picture on Inclusion in Christian agencies and theological education centers.

We also would like to ask you to send this Mail and Link on to parties that you think should also contribute. We appreciate if you involve your networks with this study.


Eberhard Werner


Dr. Eberhard Werner

Network Disability Studies and Intercultural Theology (NeDSITh)

Heegstrauchweg 68 (Rathenaustr. 5-7)

35394 Gießen

Tel. 0641-9797 033 (not consistently accessible)




Foundation Oversight: Regierungspräsidium Gießen; Postfach 100851; 35338 Gießen

Board: Prof. Dr. Klaus W. Müller


Forschungs-Stiftung Kultur und Religion.

Evangelische Bank Kassel:

IBAN:       DE14520604100000417823


Extended Evaluation of the Questionnaire-Study

(PDF here: Auswertung Questionnaire )


Evaluation: Questionnaire on Disability Studies and Intercultural Theology (PDF here)

1. Empirical Questionnaire – Qualitative Results. 1

1.1. Personal data of respondents (evaluation). 2

1.2. Size of the team and personal Feeling about the Work Environment 3

1.3. Considerations for the Questionnaire Study. 4

1.4. Summary of the Questionnaire Study. 5

2. Transcultural-anthropological considerations. 5

3. Summary – Questionnaire. 8

References. 9


1. Empirical Questionnaire – Qualitative Results

The questionnaire study evaluated here is found above in English. The study was created with the online program Sosci Survey at under professional guidance and help from a psychologically experienced employee. It can be found at URL:­forschungsstiftung/ and can be viewed at URL:­uploads/­Fragebogen%20Print-Version.pdf [accessed 2020-01-20].

This qualitative questionnaire, describes the current status of people with physical or mental limitations in the Church’s International Development aid, as described in self-perception or from the perspective of non-disabled people, and on the other hand emphasizes those relationships that arise for these actors from transcultural interactions. This global survey is part of the research mandate by the Network Disability Studies and Intercultural Theology (NeDSITh) based in Giessen/ Germany. It operates within the framework of the Research Foundation Culture and Religion (URL:; there NeDSITh under

To begin with, it must be noticed that because of the origin of the researcher (director of NeDSITh) and his employees, the survey was limited to their networks. These mainly cover the Western Churches and organizations in development aid. Another limitation is the range of physical or mental limitations by the participants. Due to the small number of 23 participants, who work in global church development services, far from all disabilities could be covered. The focus of the participants is on people with mobility-related challenges. Additionally those are also active church development workers who, despite their physical or mental limitations, have taken responsibility and are committed to their organizations to the best of their ability. As a result, these organizations had to adapt to people with physical or mental challenges.

The nine questions describe two sets of questions

1.) Personal data and living conditions (nine questions),

2.) Inclusive values in life and work (six questions) and inclusive structure (six questions).



  • Complex of questions numbered 1)
  • *personal data (age, type of disability in mobility impairment, mental limitation; parents of children with such restrictions or those concerned with disabled people; Question 1-3)
  • *Living conditions regarding:
    • is the church service abroad or in your own home country (Question 4)?,
    • is assistance necessary and to what extent (Question 5)?,
    • the employer-employee relationship (Question 6),
    • the working environment and the size of the team (Question 7),
    • the assessment of your own work environment with regard to dealing with the physical or mental restriction (Question 8), and within this block
    • the question of one’s own theological assessment of physical or mental limitations with regard to the Holy Scriptures (Question 9).

On complex of questions numbered 2)

The second complex of questions dealt with

*six questions about inclusive values that result from the living environment and the employment relationship. More

*six questions dealt with inclusive structure.

O Three questions seek to investigate how the work structures are accessible to the respondents within the scope of their special needs and

O three more questions about whether you experience yourself as an accepted and respected person.

Finally, it was possible to enter the email address and to request a statistical evaluation of the survey, which is done hereby.

Particularly noteworthy are the results that come from the almost 35% (8 participants) of Christian development workers who are parents of children that have a physical or mental disability. As the evaluation below shows, their challenges are often very different from those actors, who themselves have physical or mental limitations.

The survey was conducted over a one-month period in September 2019. A total of about 60 people were contacted. 46 online questionnaires were returned. 8 participants immediately reported that they did not understand the questions. This problem would have to be investigated again, as it also critically questions the accessibility of the online program and the questionnaire. 5 respondents did not feel represented in the questionnaire, due to very special realities that could have been covered by an extended study. The author explicitly apologizes for any inconvenience of this kind.

Unfortunately, only 23 questionnaires had been filled in from start to finish, the remaining 23 questionnaires were cancelled or could not be evaluated, because questions were overlooked or characters could not be identified. According to a two respondents, their operating system did not allow them to complete the questionnaires to the end. Since it is an external online system, the author was unable to solve these technical problems. At least 15 participants provided their email addresses in order to be personally informed about the results of the study, which happened in January 2020. This high number shows the interest in the topic and also the need to be in discussion about it.

Multiple answers were possible. Since some respondents also understood themselves in different realities, there are multiple counts. This includes e.g. one’s own disability and at the same time a parent of children with restrictions, or one being active in the Church’s International service and gone through theological training or being responsible for several teams in the Church service.

1.1. Personal data of respondents (evaluation)

The evaluation of the questionnaire can be viewed at URL: https://forschungsstiftung.­net/de/­node/103 under the link here as PDF or here as Word.docx [accessed 2020-02-04]. Approximately 35% (8/23) of the participants were parents or a parent of children with physical or mental challenges. 70% (16/23) describe themselves as physically or mentally challenged. The participants were divided into the following groups of age:

* 22-35 years of age:        4/23 (17.4%)

* 36-55 years of age:        11/23 (47.83%)

* 55+ years of age:           5/23 (21.74%)

Of the participants, 3/23 were retired that is 13.04%. The categories of physical or mental restrictions represented the most common in mankind. Multiple answers to the restrictions were possible because they correspond to the reality of life and can also change due to age or signs of wear. No participant with hearing impairment had participated.

Mobility restrictions (mobility):                         13/23 had 56.52%.
Visual impairments (visual impairment);        3/23 that is 13.04%.
Multiple constraints (combination):                 2/23 that is 8.70%.
Participants without physical limitation (not physically challenged): 8/23 that is

11/23 that is 47.83% of the participants were in theological training and one person also in Christian Development aid. So 9/23 worked in Christian development service that is 39.13%. 6/23 thus 26.09% were neither active in theological training nor in active church service abroad. The comments on this complex of questions presented that one participant was involved in pastoral care in the clinic and is operating a global network on disability and theology. A participant from Italy criticized the fact that disability studies there are only understood as a pedagogical subject with regard to teaching and the teaching of faith. A hospital chaplain works in a 750-bed hospital in the United States. One participant from Belgium is connected to the European Disability Network. One participant is working with an Australian organization that works for leaders with special needs. An African participant studied linguistics in Asia, but then had to return to his home country due to a deteriorating eyesight.

These examples show which range of human diversity the questionnaire study participants belong to and which life experiences were incorporated into the answers reflected here.

1.2. Size of the team and personal Feeling about the Work Environment

The chosen complex of question was meant to show in which sizes of teams the participants were placed. On the one hand, the team sizes represent the peer group, on the other hand they indicate how much responsibility has been transferred to a person with physical or mental challenges.

7/23 (30.43%) of the participants work with 5 teammates. With regard to this small size of the peer group, a participant notes that it is hardly/ not possible in this theology school and training to exchange information about disability-specific issues. The same number 7/23 (30.43%) works in teams of 20–49 teammates. More than 50 teammates crossed 6/23 (26.09%). Overall, the comments on this question showed that in today’s world responsible people move in so many different living environments, both privately and professionally, that the range is from very small peer groups (e.g. one-on-one discipleship) to large networks and it was difficult to restrict yourself to one certain living environment.

In addition to the team sizes, it was also asked whether the organization or institution endeavours to address the concerns of employees with physical or mental challenges through contact persons. 34.7% of those surveyed indicated that such a contact point for people with restricted mobility or for parents with children who belong to this group, 39% do not work in an organization with such a position and 26% do not care, because due to their physical or mental skills they need assistance, but have regulated this otherwise. Although it is very gratifying that 34.7% can turn to someone from their organization for their special needs, we must not forget that the respondents play very active roles in their organizations and are therefore also able to respond to their surroundings proactively to address their needs. However, the fact that 39% do not have such a contact point indicates a gap in the organizations. There is a need to catch up here.

This is where a scientifically researched observation comes into play: the larger a church or Christian development aid organization is, the better church employees feel cared for in the service abroad. This was found out in the context of a global study on the termination of their foreign service by church development aid workers (abortion in foreign Church service; Blöcher 2007: 9-22). It was therefore reasonable to assume that large organizations could better cater to the special needs of the group of people examined here. Unfortunately, the relationship between team size and organizational size could not be determined. The group size of the respondents by team size was on average too small to make meaningful statements. This would have to be determined in a follow-up study.

Overall, it was astonishing that a third of the participants stated that they work in organizations that are geared to the needs of employees who have special physical or mental needs. Overall, these participants rate their organizations as “inclusive”. This is shown in the average of 40.65% with a range of 12–60. This is supported by the feeling that the organizations convey “inclusive values”, which is evident by an average of 20.83% with a range of 6–30. 19.83% of those surveyed, recognize “inclusive structures” in their work environment by a range of 6–30. This is reflected in the size of “equal treatment” by an average of 10.22% within a range of 3–15.

The finding is contrasted by the major shortcoming of almost two thirds of the organizations that either do not have a specific inclusive institution or to which the respondents did not assign such a position. However, the abstention can also be interpreted positively and evaluated as already inclusive, because the respondents are part of an ideal work environment in which their restriction would be completely insignificant. However, this would be very unusual given the need for employees with physical or mental challenges to reflect human diversity in the global Church.

The next set of questions dealt with the sensitivity and the support within the working environment, i.e. how is the peer group regarding the disability? Almost 50% say that they are treated with sensitivity in the workplace. Well, such statements rely on subjective assessments, but they contribute significantly to the feeling of inclusion, since the recognition of one’s performance and personality play a role. It is striking that 6/23 that is 26.1% do not comment on this and at least another 26.1% negatively modest it. This group of more than 50% therefore either assumes they have no expectations on their colleagues, they had such bad experiences that they do not want to testify at all, or they are exposed to situations that add additional stress to their general work stress due to their restrictions. Obviously, there is a need for clarification and awareness-raising among Christian Development services.

Based on the above-mentioned possibility of a contact person, it was also important to find out whether the organizations offer help or assistance to compensate for special needs? At least 55.2% of the participants answered in the affirmative. 30% answered no to this question, which indicates that there is a need for clarification or that these participants have found their own ways outside their organization, which would also indicate a discontinuation with these matters within the organization.

The second part asked how much personal assistance is required. It was 73.9% who needed such assistance. Of which 30.4% all day, 43.5% once or twice a day. Of those who need 24-hour assistance, it was 57.2% who received this within their organization, for those who need help once or twice, this was 80%. It is striking that the 24-hour assistance represents a major hurdle for 30% of the participants, since they have to cover this need outside of their organization or may not get it at all. 20% of those who need help once or twice do not experience it in their organization. This deficiency could be reduced, but is still an overall pleasing figure. In addition, this should be assessed from the point of view that 47.83% did not want any help if they were asked directly whether they needed it, while 52.17% said they wanted it.

What about the delegated responsibility in the organizations? Here 13% say that they have the feeling or the experience that due to their impairment they were not expected to be given certain responsibilities. However, 65.2% saw no problem with this and were satisfied with the work areas that were assigned to them. This is a gratifying finding, as it indicates mutual agreements regarding the work. The rest of the participants, 21.8%, understood this question as irrelevant.

Finally, it was asked how the participants think about biblical evidence on the subject of disability. After all, 17/23 that is 73.911%, understand the statements of the Bible as a whole positive. Only 3/23, 13.04% find this not currently relevant and just as many see the biblical basis as rather negative, when it comes to disabilities or people with disabilities. The extent to which hermeneutic stereotypes were adopted or the religious consolation by the Holy Scriptures covered a too critical perspective as would have to be clarified in a personal conversation.

1.3. Considerations for the Questionnaire Study

The aim of the questionnaire study was to find out whether Christian organizations in global service abroad, or theological training institutions that prepare church staff for this service, are geared towards people with physical or mental limitations. In addition to external accessibility, this also means the inner conviction that this group of people belongs to the global Church and reflects the social diversity of human realities. 46 questionnaires were returned out of a total of 60 respondents. The questionnaire was evaluated based on 23 responses. With just under 50% of participants, a range was reached that would have to be improved in future surveys, nonetheless it allows indications for this first study that are meaningful.

With 47.83%, the 36–55 year olds are the focus of the respondents. With just under 20% younger and older, an overall average is reached, which brings up different age groups. 18/23, 78.26% were physically or mentally challenged. 8/23, i.e. 34.78%, did not fit into this category, but they had to do with disability studies and people with physical or mental limitations in the context of globally active Church Development Service organizations. The majority include parents of children with physical or mental challenges.

The high number of those who in their organizations have inclusive structures, such as assistance, contact persons or sensitivity to physical or mental restrictions, determined an inclusive relationship and working conditions. They also find that the transferred areas of responsibility are engaging. For most questions, more than 50% of those questioned found these conditions to be positive. These answers are not in correspondence regarding personal conversations with people with physical or mental limitations as well as personal experiences and observations. There seems to be a discrepancy between the expectations of these groups of people and the real possibilities of the mostly financially strained organizations and their implementation of inclusive measures. In other words, the ignorance of church organizations in foreign ministry is often criticized by persons with physical or mental limitations, in regard to

inclusive measures (physical and digital accessibility, personal assistance),
the inclusion of church employees with physical or mental challenges, when they apply or are deployed or
the orientation towards people with physical or mental challenges in the field of evangelism, diakonia (Christian social welfare) and church planting.
Such criticism is not brought in critically by persons with mental or physical challenges, because they are forced to set aside their own needs. A lot seems to be balanced here on a personal level, based on the assumption that their

expectations regarding the organizations are not set very high,
own needs, which are put back, or
capacities are not recognized.
The opportunities of many Christian Development that are in global service depend on voluntary donations or very limited budgets. The lack of interest in Church Service abroad has been evident since the 1970s. The turning away of many people from the Church, modern atheism and an increasing local responsibility of churches in the non-Western world, due to post-colonial developments, means that Christian Development aid focuses on special areas. These include medical service, Bible translation, or social services such as micro-self-employment.

Disability studies and the interest in people with physical or mental disabilities is closely related to the medical field, which is why the Christoffel Blindenmission (CBM) or the Hildesheimer Blindenmission (HBM) specialize in the medical care of visually impaired people. If more cultural mediators with physical or mental challenges now work abroad in Christian Development aid, then people are challenged by the cultural mediators’ limitations to rethink their own physical or mental challenges. In this way there are completely different social groups reached. The participants of the questionnaire confirmed this by going about their work with great willingness and also accepting restrictions that prevented them from being ignored, discriminated against or rejected.

1.4. Summary of the Questionnaire Study

The majority of the 23 participants, just over 50%, in the study indicated that their organizations were sensitive to their needs. In this sense, inclusive approaches are recognizable. This refers to a contact person, to assistance and to the sensitivity on the mental or physical challenge during the application process and the employment. The other 50% were reluctant to comment on their problems. It is therefore interesting to concentrate on the question, which areas are not yet covered. Here are obvious deficits that need to be addressed concerning

more extensive assistance,
the promotion of Christian Development services for people with physical or mental challenges and
the focus on groups of people with such restrictions.

2. Transcultural-anthropological considerations

Intercultural communication is based on the mentioned functional principles, which are generally found in communication processes. The model used here is based on the model of communication as presented by Shannon and Weaver in the field of information technology (Shannon & Weaver 1949). In addition, the ostensive-inferential communication processes used in Relevance Theory are considered. Communication is researched in speech act theory act by Austin, Searle and Grice. Their research is from the seventies of the last century. They brought up the four principles of quality, quantity, relevance and modality. Only the principle of relevance was considered in Relevance Theory, all the other principles were declared as negligible. Relevance refers to hand on all information on the part of the speaker (ostensive part of relevance). The listener, in the context of relevance theory she is determined feminine, has all the (inferential) knowledge to derive the information. The en- and decoding process is only used, for describing the transmission (transformation) of information (Sperber & Wilson [1986] 1995 summarized in Wilson & Sperber 2004). This initial part of communication is not an independent communication process in itself as in the Code model of communication (see above). Regarding the translation practice in intercultural communication processes, Gutt applied Relevance Theory to translation principles (Gutt 1992 and 2000). Functional translation, as propagated by Nord, competes with Relevance Theory (Nord [1997] 2001). It relies on the Skopos model introduced by Vermeer (1978). A combination of these models is nowadays established in communication sciences, since each model now refers to the others and they originally all turned away from the dominant information technology Shannon-Weaver model (detailed Werner 2011).

The mixture of these models in view, intercultural communication offers some peculiarities that are important for intercultural theology, since people meet each other with different “codes, conventions, attitudes and everyday behaviors” (Maletzke 1996:37). Above all, ethnocentrism, which presents itself as nationalism, creates an additional hurdle in the area of disability studies because it uses the obvious difference between people with physical or mental limitations to underpin prejudices (:26). This applies to church development services, both for disabled Christian development workers and for people with physical or intellectual challenges that are encountered in the field. The social constructs of “foreign” and the “other” meet here and want to be overcome constructively (: 30). In intercultural communication, Maletzke demands a high degree of “intelligence, tolerance, strength of personality; Ability and willingness for positive social relationships; Task orientation ”(: 132). In particular, he sees the ability to deal with new needs and changes as inevitable. A special feature that Maletzke mentions are the social attractions of so-called “inter-cultures” or “third cultures”. This corresponds approximately to the attractiveness already mentioned, as was established in the context of the Homogenous People Principles for homogeneous ethnic groups (Homogenous Units Principle HUP), by McGavran (Maletzke 1996: 155; McGavran 1968: vi, 1, 3, 91). It was observed that people with the same ethnic or social background are receptive to external impressions as a group, non-verbal elements play a considerable role (Maletzke 1996: 76). Maletzke does not explicitly name this, but he seems to mean the deeper interpersonal communication as such a point of attraction within the framework of the cultural encounter. In other words, it is not the spontaneous encounter that is taken up here, but the establishment of social networks that serve to carry out life in a specific or several areas of life. In the church development service, such social networks are the starting point for Church social welfare activities. Overcoming linguistic-cultural hurdles is the basic requirement to build trust. This “intercultural adaptation” reduces the “culture shock” in the encounter of the parties (Maletzke 1996: 159-160, 166). Values provide the theoretical framework within which the members of a group adhere, but customs and norms determine the concrete level of everyday behavior (:91). Violations are to be understood as taboo and are only granted to the outsider, they are sanctioned fundamentally (:97).

Modern hermeneutics on the biblical account testify its complexity as open to surprises. In the age of intersubjectivism, the interpreters’ biographical experiences flow into the subjective interpretation as ethnographic observations.[1] These interpretations are also suitable to allow for a changing image of God. This phenomenon results from diverse readings at different times, which led to changing hermeneutic interpretations. Inclusion-oriented hermeneutics represent an intersubjective model that is based on the reciprocal coexistence of people with and without physical or mental restrictions, demonstrating differentiality (e.g. diversity) and convalescence (restoration) in one. The biographical-ethnographic discourses described above are the starting point for such a hermeneutics (see Kathy Black in theology of interdependance 1996: 34-41).

Previous examples of inclusive hermeneutics are mentioned here. The key to all-inclusive approaches lies in the integration of those addressed. The feminine qualities of God were only emphasized by the participation of female exegetes, until then they were also known, but hardly played a role in interpretation (Du Mez 2015:1, 27, 39). Katharine Bushnell (*1855–†1946) became a feminist theologian, when she realized that the male over interpretation of the biblical text in Chinese Bible translations at that time was largely due to a Western paternalistic interpretation (: 39-41). This is one of the examples of how a scientific discipline perceives its own “thinking glasses”, when various social groups are involved.

Linguistic prejudices are another narrow link. The term δοῦλος doulos “slave”, still common in German Bible translations in the Middle Ages, has become an English keyterm over the past few centuries. “Servant” (see NAS in contrast to KJV) or German “servant, servant” (e.g. Einheitsübersetzung) as it is attested in e.g. John 15:15. The developments surrounding Afro-American slavery and the associated racism as well as segregation have increasingly focused the term “slave” on this problem area, which is why, over time, it add additional and now serious negative semantic connotations. Today’s use of “servant” was always included in the term δοῦλος doulos, but it only was translated as “slave”. Linguistic-cultural development can continue as well as discontinue in reverse. It is therefore possible that applications of new terms will develop (e.g. “serf”; “colleagues”) as well as those that have already been used (e.g. “freelancers”; “slaves”).

The hurdles in language and culture are the most important challenge in the transcultural encounter within the framework of the global Church Development service. If the actors are additionally challenged by physical or mental limitations, then additional barriers have to be mastered. It is the encultured encyclopaedic knowledge of the world (Kess 1993:6) and the cultural tradition of an ethnic or social group that shape their collective and individual environment. Within this reality of life, the living spaces of people with physical or mental limitations are perceived as areas of “norm deviation” or “abnormality”. Both perceptions of this anomaly by people without or with physical or mental challenges as well as the way of life in the coexistence of both groups shape the framework of an “inclusive hermeneutics from the ecclesiastical center, which does justice to human diversity”.
If one looks into the church’s development service, then the church’s representation of Christian charity, as exemplified in Jesus of Nazareth, performs the motivation for the Church social welfare service. Transcultural encounter is thus under the impression of church activism. One of the teachings that we take out from historical colonialism in postcolonial studies is that the Church Development service is not following military, economic or political interventions. In this case, national sovereignty is not compromised, but the church’s intervention is to be developed in cooperation. Both teachings are deeply based on an inclusive thought. It is based on the leadership concept of the primus interpares[2] and the so-called Golden Rule. Consequently, where transcultural actors plan with each other, this must not be done under political, economic or military influence, but is based on a strong relationship and does not lead to a shift of forces in favor of non-indigenous forces, i.e. the influence from outside.

An inclusive anthropology as required in various places (Ulf Liedke 2009) contrasts theological premises. This includes divine

Omnipotence (unlimited power; Genesis 17:1; Rev. 21:22),
Omnipresence (ubiquity; Genesis 28:15),
Timelessness (postulate of eternity; Numbers 3:15, 15:18; Neh 9: 5) and
Perfection (Deuteronomy 32: 4; Mt 5:48).
The latter describes the abundance that is the ideal, of all aesthetic, emotional and physical attributes.

Divine properties
Human attributes
Local spatial constraint
Human influence on the environment
time obligations
Aesthetic-physical imperfection
These divine properties, as articulated in the biblical accounts, are breaking through the physical-physical limitations of the person who is bound to space and time. Jesus of Nazareth shows besides absolutely human qualities, grief, compassion, fear, care also the ability to walk through groups of people or on the water or to heal. These divine properties mentioned above perform antitheses to human impermanence and limitation. Although physical and psychological transgressions are described in the biblical report using divine miracles, both living environments remain separate as realities. This also plays an important role for inclusive anthropology and hermeneutics.
Including missiological-theological ideas basically begin with a form of theology of suffering. These arise from the theological concept of liberation, which reflects the transience and limitations of man in the image of the death on the cross by Jesus of Nazareth (Beyerhaus 1986:39, 41, 47). Pope John Paul II sees people with physical or mental challenges as heralds of a new world transformed by the light of Christ. This is rightly emphasized by the Roman Catholic theologian Jean Vanier. However, it presupposes that practical life has to be adjusted to the limitations that sometimes occur through illness, accidents or other incidents, since otherwise the socially constructed “abnormality” of these people cannot be leveled in the kingdom of God. This can happen both in the church and in the meeting realms of people with and without physical or mental limitations. This perspective developed for Vanier after having had the experience of living together in the living facilities of the L’Arche communities. Here Vanier’s practical theology goes beyond the papal notion, which derives from theological theory. It defines the enrichment of the transcultural encounter of people with and without physical or mental challenges, both from mutual learning, as well as in the perception and complementary exchange of mutual life experience (Reinders 2000:3-5, 13, 15). These experiences form the bridges between the living environments of people with and without physical or mental impairments. Such bridges are apt to complete the Church as a whole, as a realm of God, within the framework of human diversity. In return, where these stoops are not bridged, social living spaces of this ecclesiastical realization remain closed and do not represent the entirety of the church in eschatological perfection (Newbigin 1979: 23).
At this point, the most important linguistic-anthropological questions from a missiological point of view with regard to inclusive hermeneutics should be touched on from within the church. After a summary, we turn to the question, what about political correctness and inclusive language as linguistic categories of an inclusive hermeneutics?
3. Summary – Questionnaire
It was shown here that the driving force of inclusion, however, is the diversity of social structures. Social coherence develops in the diversity of its members under conditions in which the different social classes complement or support one another. The economic, personal or political boundaries were discussed here taking into account postcolonial aspects.
A global questionnaire study, in which 23 participants from a total of 46 took part, was designed to show how inclusion by Church Development aid organizations is practiced. This study was aimed both at church workers who have a physical or mental disability and at the parents of children with such characteristics. The respondents work in such church organizations abroad. The perception and assessment of about half of the participants confirm structures that show the inclusion in their organization. This was noted particularly in the areas of contact persons and assistance regarding the physical or mental challenge. The other half should not be overlooked. In particular, complex assistance around the clock is a problem. Here the respondents are looking for help from outside. A contact person or sensitivity to the different life formats is also a difficult topic for half of the organizations. Overall, however, the subject of inclusion is currently represented in the organizations by the respondents themselves. This factor also represents a limitation of the survey, since it is not a cross-section of all organizations, but only a section from the perspective of the group of people concerned. In this regard, it remains to be hoped that the encouragement to hire, integrate and deal with the physically or mentally challenged will also affect other organizations.
In addition to a post-colonial, cultural-anthropological considerations with regard to disability studies have also stimulated linguistic discourse. The theological discussion of hermeneutics with exegetical knowledge is particularly challenging. Examples such as the terms “woman” or “slave”, which have been exposed to language and cultural change for centuries, demonstrate the hermeneutic challenge. This can be transferred to the cultural-linguistic Othering (being different) due to the Ableism rejection of disabled people) by people with physical or mental limitations.

Religious and theological ideas revolve around the idealization of the ideas of “divinity” as the perfect counterpart to human beings. Terms such as omnipresence, omnipotence, perfection or eternity are used to create biases towards people with physical or mental limitations with regard to aesthetic, moral, ethical and emotional perceptions. An unconscious or subliminal segregation of the imperfect, unaesthetic or physically broken takes place in mind and speech. This is expressed in the different categorization of the living environments of people with and without physical or mental impairments. Separation is declared as being “different”. As a result, only a few or one-sided bridges can be built, the latter following the power gap from the disabled (Engl. The Abled) to the disabled (Engl. Disabled).

The Golden Rule was proposed as a life principle, as a hermeneutic bridging of the different living environments of people with and without physical or mental challenges. It serves as a leitmotif, because in order to bridge the power gap, the social benefits of an inclusive hermeneutic must become clear from the center. The theological construct “Trinity” plays a not insignificant role here, since even a variety of very different and at the same time complementary natures come into play (Tataryn & Truchan-Tataryn 2013:62). Since the Biblical Trinity reflects “unity in diversity”, the Church can be described as a “community in diversity”. Only in this constellation does it live up to its mission to all nations and the people that is the believing members.


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[1] The hermeneutic discussions around Gadamer’s new hermeneutics (1990), Derrida’s deconstructivist intersubjectivism (1967: 25) or the traditional hermeneuticl view of Stuhlmacher (1986) only flow into this work insofar as they are helpful to the ethnographic-biographical analysis. Gadamer’s “merging of horizons” and the intersubjective representation of Derrida are excellent tools for exposing the subjectivity of colonial writings.

[2] Lat. “First among equals” is a management structure in which the leader is on an equal footing with the others, but may assume responsibility from this group (Werner 2018 Power Point Inclusive Leadership).