Education and Training

Equipping the church for disability ministry is at the heart of Joni and Friends’ mission. Education and training is a central thrust of the CID in order to better prepare laity, professionals and ministers for the work of disability ministry. Developing materials and coursework – from the grassroots level to higher academia – allows Joni and Friends to promote a biblical worldview on disability and the role the church is to play in evangelizing, including and empowering the disabled.
Programs include:

Course Offering - Through strategic partnerships that the Christian Institute on Disability has established with reputable educational institutions, students can take course work for undergraduate or graduate credit.

Certificate Program - Offered at the International Disability Center in Southern California–students, ministers, professionals or lay people alike can take a one-week intensive course taught by staff of the CID and Joni Eareckson Tada herself. Find out more about the Beyond Suffering Course.

Web-Based Education - Recognizing the new and advanced styles of learning through online education, several of the institutions that the CID partners with offer courses fully online.

Training Conferences and Summits - National and international conferences are a part of the education and training offered by Joni and Friends. The Christian Institute on Disability partners with the Church Relations Department and educational institutions for a various training events. View a list of our upcoming events.

Curriculum Development - Materials at all levels of training are developed by the Christian Institute on Disability. From grassroots to higher education to small group bible studies, participants can grow and learn through these resources. View our Education & Training page.


Accredited Coursework

The Christian Institute on Disability has strategically partnered with selective institutions of higher education to offer accredited coursework in disability ministry at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Students must apply at the individual institution and are subject to acceptance policy and tuition of the offering institution.

Hear from students who have graduated with a Masters of Arts in Disability Studies:

Click on the desired link below for more information on coursework availability.




Beyond Suffering

Beyond Suffering (formally known as Foundations) is a unique college level certificate course offered only at the International Disability Center in Southern California. It is comprised of four thought-provoking modules:

  • An Overview of Disability Ministry

  • The Theology of Suffering and Disability

  • The Church and Disability Ministry

  • An Introduction to Bioethics

Each module gives students a solid understanding of issues facing the various aspects of disability ministry. Students will learn through lecture, group discussion, video, and hands-on experience to evangelize, welcome into the church and empower those affected by disability. This course is designed for ministers, professionals, educators, volunteers, students and anyone interested in learning more about effective disability ministry.

Students who embrace this will gain a sense of confidence in knowing they are a part of a movement that God is orchestrating to fulfill His command in Luke 14:21: “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.”

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International Education

Basics: Fundamentals of Disability Ministry Training

Basics is designed for a one-day seminar to educate and train lay leaders and volunteers in the biblical understanding of God’s plan for suffering and disability. This training also provides an overview of various disabilities, as well as a perspective of how people affected by disabilities are viewed in different cultures. Successful disability ministry models are explored as a way of showing God’s love through the church.

Download Basics Participant Workbook

Download Basics Training Guide


Designed by God: A Biblical Theology of Disability, Suffering and the Church

Designed by God is a college level course that introduces students to four fields of study: Theology, Disability, Ecclesiology, and Bioethics. Students are challenged to develop an understanding of God’s heart for people with disabilities and to include them in the ministry of the church. Inspiring, audio-visual case studies are presented that will inspire and challenge students as they develop a “theology of disability and suffering.” The introduction to bioethical issues will educate students on cultural “hot topics” in medicine and ethics that threaten the lives of people affected by disabilities. Designed by God is primarily used in international colleges and seminaries.

The Christian Institute on Disability has partnered with educational institutions around the world to offer training in disability ministry. To determine if disability ministry education is available in a particular country Contact the Christian Institute on Disability.