Welcome to Week Six in our Winter series: Applying “Orange” Principles in Ministry to Families of Kids With Hidden Disabilities. Today, we’ll examine the importance of an integrated ministry strategy in serving families of kids with disabilities. This week’s discussion covers pages 107-133 in Think Orange.
Chapter Six marks a transition point in the book. To this point, Reggie has articulated the principles that form the foundation of family-based ministry. The focus from this point on is to help churches to develop an effective strategy to synchronize the church and the family in influencing the spiritual development of the next generation.
Orange starts with the assumption that your church needs to determine what you want kids to become and an intentional strategy, combining the influences of church and family, for helping them get there. I’d add that such an intentional strategy is equally important for helping adults to grow in faith. For a concise example of what such a strategy might look like, check out Libby Peterson’s post from earlier in the series on partnering with parents. Church programming supports the implementation of the intentional strategy.
In my mind, a key strength of the Orange model in serving families of kids with disabilities is the emphasis upon an integrated staff model emphasizing collective intentionality…ministry leaders from different departments within the church working together with a collective purpose. The families Key Ministry helps churches to serve often have lots of needs. One of the challenges we’ve observed in churches that launch disability ministry programs is that the needs of the families targeted by such programs cut across so many departments. When we think about ministry to the family as opposed to ministry to the child with a disability, collective intentionality is required to ensure the child’s disability doesn’t serve as an impediment to the ability of other family members to participate in activities and programs central to the church’s philosophy of ministry.
Let me use an illustration to help you ponder the importance of an integrated strategy and an integrated staff with families of kids with complex disabilities:
You’re in a leadership position within the family ministry at Happy Valley Community Church. Your church was launched seven years ago with a ministry strategy that encourages attendance at weekly “celebrations” featuring contemporary worship and relevant teaching from your dynamic senior pastor, active participation of adults in small group ministry, and engagement in high-impact missional initiatives that have challenged the assumptions many Happy Valley residents had about Christians and Christianity.
Your senior pastor returns from a conference with other prominent leaders in the church and announces an initiative in which families from the church would seek to adopt 100 children currently in the Happy Valley foster care system who are unlikely to find permanent families because of their advanced age (5 or above) or special emotional, behavioral or developmental needs. 60% of kids in the custody of Happy Valley Children’s Services currently receive mental health services. Let’s assume that the data summarized here accurately represents the needs of kids who will be served by the families of your church, and the kids are evenly distributed age-wise between your preschool, children’s and student ministry.
What supports would you need to put into place for the adoptive parents to maintain or increase their current level of involvement in your church? In worship services? In small groups? In missional service?
What resources would you require to include the influx of kids with disabilities in age-appropriate ministry programming most critical to their spiritual development?
How would the arrival of the foster kids affect your facility needs? Your volunteer needs? Your budgetary needs? What would you stop doing in order to respond to this need?
What level of involvement would you need from senior leadership and leaders of other ministries in your church?
Our team at Key Ministry would be honored to come beside your church and help your team tackle challenges that arise in effectively ministering to families of kids with hidden disabilities.
Next Week: Effective communication with families of kids with disabilities
We’re pleased that our teammate, Harmony Hensley, will be offering two presentations at this year’s Orange Conference in Atlanta. She’ll be accompanied by Katie Wetherbee. E-mail Katie (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call (440) 247-0083 to meet up at the conference.
Click here for conference registration.