Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)



First Advisor

Carole Spencer, PhD

Second Advisor

Jason Clark, PhD, DMin

Third Advisor

MaryKate Morse, PhD


Autism is the fastest growing cognitive disorder in the world, yet many of the families affected do not feel supported or welcomed by their faith communities. A congregation that cultivates a robust theology and praxis of hospitality—one that invites people to consider God’s full welcome, and their place as guests in his kingdom—will provide a path of formation that results in a supportive, safe, and collaborative space that includes families affected by autism.

This dissertation will address the ministry opportunity by first articulating a clear understanding of the existing need. A biblical background of God’s hospitable nature will provide a concrete rationale for church leaders to consider as they reflect on this need. Section two will highlight how this need is being addressed in other arenas and how churches can learn from these successes and shortcomings. Consideration will also be given to potential questions and hesitations that arise regarding this topic. In section three, a detailed outline of the formational journey of hospitality will be presented. This journey is the proposed solution to this ministry opportunity. As people participate in the spiritual discipline of God’s welcome, they are more aware of their place as guests and their role as hosts. The collaborative nature of God’s kingdom is more clearly understood, which allows for authentic relationships rather than transactional exchanges.

Sections four and five will outline and expound on the artifact that accompanies this statement, a proposal for a leadership-specific book titled, Transformative Hospitality: How Welcoming Those Affected by Autism Can Change a Community. This book will provide biblical support for church leaders to craft an inclusive theology of hospitality that extends beyond the neurotypical members of their congregations. The goal of this statement, the artifact, and the work that follows is the collective embodiment of God’s welcome that includes individuals and families affected by conditions like ASD and that invites them fully into fellowship, worship, and ministry.

Included in

Christianity Commons