12 Reasons to read DEAFCHURCH 21

What others are saying about DEAFCHURCH 21: Vision for a New Generation

Old wooden door with red blooming roses
Red blooming roses and old wooden door in summer, Italy, Europe

Jesus used “sign” language to reach people who were deaf to the gospel. He changed water to wine, fed the multitudes, and raised the dead to life. In DEAFCHURCH 21, Drs. Ayres and McClain explore the meaning of “signing” the gospel in the secular age. We hear first from those whose passion is to love the Deaf community with the good news of Jesus Christ. We are given a seat at the table for a lively discussion on the issues facing an effective and faithful ministry to the Deaf world. The authors face the challenges with honesty and hope, and develop a dynamic theology of ministry that takes the example of Jesus and the early church seriously. When Jesus said, “Whoever has ears, let them hear,” he wasn’t talking about sound waves; he was talking about the gospel. DEAFCHURCH 21 is a clarion call to wisdom and to action.

Dr. Doug Webster
Professor, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University


Have you ever been pulled into a social media conversational thread because…well, you couldn’t resist? That’s the sense I had as I began reading DEAFCHURCH 21. The authenticity of the dialogue reminded me of how attracted I am to people who ‘keep it real’ – and how certain I am that faithful pointing to Jesus Christ in a world gone wacky may have more to do with our posture than our proclamations. Deaf believers are legitimately a distinct culture. This book’s discussion is a gift from marginalized brothers and sisters in Christ that can encourage us all.

Dr. Dave Rahn
Sr. Ministry Advisor, Youth For Christ USA


DEAFCHURCH 21: Vision for a New Generation explores both the Missio and Communio components of ministry with, for and by persons who are Deaf. Embracing the contemporary challenges of our intensely secularized society, the authors have provided a resource for current and future pastoral workers in Deaf ministry to explore and reflect on how to best support Deaf persons through their spiritual faith journeys, both in our own faith traditions and collaboratively from an interfaith perspective. A “must read” for those called to leadership in the Deaf Church. An inspiring invitation to encounter and accompany!

Mary O’Meara, Executive Director
Department of Special Needs Ministry, Archdiocese of Washington, DC


Drs. Ayres and McClain have written a must-read primer for anyone considering the Deaf Ministry. As a Deaf educator who teaches ASL and Deaf Culture at the University level and has been part of the Deaf ministries in different denominations, I agree that ‘the sacred assembly across the ages has been one of helping to recognize, and even helping to usher in, the Kingdom of God.’ And see this quote as a metaphor of how it’s necessary for Deaf ministry to come together to partake in a spiritual quest to find God. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to educate themselves on Deaf ministry priorities and challenges.

Stephen J. Hardy, II,
ASL Lecturer at the University of Florida


The most successful Deaf Churches/Ministries, for decades, have been generational churches, often not affecting the generation prior nor just after their own. Historically, as congregational members age and die—so does the work. DEAFCHURCH 21: Vision for a New Generation both academically and spiritually recognizes, addresses, and challenges these well-worn trends. The text is a clarion call for young Deaf men and women who are born again and led by the Spirit to respond to the Spirit’s wooing to reach beyond generational margins into the Deaf Community with the purity of Christ’s message of hope and healing. This is definitely a good read for all and worthy of use in academic settings.

Dr. JoAnn L. Smith,
Director, University of Valley Forge Deaf Ministry Program


Much like a trip to my local optometrist, DEAFCHURCH 21 thoughtfully and boldly adjusted the lens of my soul to see with clarity the issues and opportunities that face the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities across our country. I felt a deepening conviction, even as the power of the transformational message of Christ was amplified. This is a call to action: One that the church of Jesus Christ must honor. While the lens of my soul is now calibrated to see the problem in a fresh way, so is the clarity of hope that comes when followers of Jesus live into their calling.

Dan Wolgemuth
President/CEO, Youth For Christ USA


Grounded in strong scriptural understanding and sound theological doctrine (both provide a firm foundation for ministry) and infused with real-life examples directly from online and face-to-face focus groups, DEAFCHURCH 21: Vision for a New Generation presents a blueprint for successful Deaf ministry. Ayres and McClain tell this story as only people experienced in cultural understanding and grounded in authentic faith can tell.

Ben A. Sharpton
novelist, educator, minister


Having been part of a variety of Deaf ministries and churches for roughly 30 years, I have witnessed the birth of some, joined some in the middle of their growth, and sadly, seen others end. This book resonated with my experiences of what works and what doesn’t. What Bob and Rick present here comes from sound wisdom and the Holy Spirit’s guidance. The authors have reflected well our Lord’s desire for Deaf people of all backgrounds to come and know Him. This book is an excellent tool to spur deep reflection if you desire to form a Deaf Church in this century.

Harry Wood
Teacher, Trainer, Youth Leader


Unlike historic efforts in this area, the authors draw on Deaf voices, as well as experienced Deaf and hearing church leaders, to identify historic failures of such ministries. Courageously, the authors address historic issues of oppression, empowerment, and the need to embrace the marginalized. Their challenge is rooted firmly in Biblical truths for achieving God’s vision for Deaf Ekklesia. This text is an inspired “Vision for a new Generation”—must reading for anyone currently involved in Deaf ministry or thinking of setting up an outreach to members of the Deaf community.

Dr. Jan Humphrey
Educator, Ministry Leader, Certified Interpreter-Canada & US
Author of So You Want to Be an Interpreter


If you are looking for a prescriptive model for what a Deaf church should look like, you won’t find it here. What you will find are thought provoking discussions to stimulate further thought about the unique challenges and opportunities of Deaf churches. One sentence in the book sums it up: ‘The calling for the Deaf church is twofold: renewal of a faithful, biblical understanding of what it means to be the church in general and a specific commitment of the distinctiveness of a linguistic and cultural ministry to the Deaf community.’

Terri Chapman, Director
SIL International Global Sign Languages Team


Whether you are in the ministry, an educator working with the Deaf, or are a Church historian, DEAFCHURCH 21 offers readers a unique perspective on the historical contributions of the Church that have almost been forgotten. The book superbly succeeds in highlighting the Church’s role in shaping today’s Deaf culture, their understanding of spirituality, and identity within society. By means of social media, the authors capture the current challenges Deaf individuals in the Deaf Church community face on a daily basis. Furthermore, the book’s structure allows for further thought and discussion at the end of each section and serves well as a course textbook.

Sharon M. DiFino, PhD, CCC-SLP
Clinical Assistant Professor, Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, UF


Students have touted Deaf Diaspora: The Third Wave of Deaf Ministry as one of the most influential books of their college studies. It is therefore thrilling to anticipate the effect this book will have on those in current and future ministry with Deaf people. It is a thorough and essential call to all who are involved with Deaf outreach, to keep the gospel of Christ central. The principles and values apply to both Deaf and Hearing Christians, and the collaborative effort to create a framework for application is a glorious glimpse of the Church carrying out Christ’s mission.

Alta Johnson, Adjunct Professor,
ASL and Deaf Culture, Moody Bible Institute




One thought on “12 Reasons to read DEAFCHURCH 21

  1. Bob & Rick, thanks so much for this thought provoking read. The challenges we face are indeed great & this gives us great hope for the future. I’m currently praying/looking into ways of using your work as a launch pad for life giving, hope building discussion with other Deaf church/ministry leaders here in our ministry context in Canada. Grace, honour & peace!

    Liked by 1 person

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