JAM Session Rewind

Random thoughts and observations after Key Ministry’s inaugural JAM Session last Friday:

Children’s Ministry staff and volunteers are incredibly hungry for practical resources to help them do a better job of serving kids with “special needs.” The majority of our participants came with interests and concerns related to serving kids who would traditionally be thought of as having “special needs.” There are a number of fine organizations and individuals offering training and resources to churches for this population (Joni and Friends, Friendship Ministries, Making Room, CCFH and McLean Bible Church, to name a few) and concentrations of presentations on “special needs” at major ministry conferences, including the Orange Conference and Children’s Pastor’s Conferences, but if our attendees are representative, churches are hungry for more and folks will travel for an all-day conference.

Folks are very interested in the capacity to do church-based respite. Our participants included a number of parents of kids who would be more appropriately characterized with hidden disabilities as opposed to special needs, as well as pastors with a keen awareness of the needs of families within their churches. Respite care initiatives resonate with churches with a heart for missional living or knowledge of the struggles parents of kids with all disabilities experience. Respite may be a logical starting point for churches serving relatively few families of kids with disabilities at present.

Addressing the needs of kids with more subtle disabilities is important, but not as urgent as kids with “special needs.” Churches that are struggling to meet the needs of kids traditionally considered to be disabled probably need to get a handle on serving those needs first before tacking the much larger population of kids who struggle to do church because of primary emotional or behavioral disorders, as opposed to developmental disorders.

The resources Key Ministry offers for kids with emotional or behavioral disabilities are unique and important. In a separate post, I’ll tell you about Angie. She’s an attendee from a church in eastern North Carolina who drove eleven hours one way because she struggled to find any other resources on hidden disabilities for her team back home. It would have been worth putting on the course if Angie was the only attendee.

JAM Sessions will be two-day events (or more) in the very near future. Feedback we received from our attendees suggests that our team from Key Ministry just scratched the surface in addressing topics of potential interest. We’ll definitely want to include training for respite outreach in the near future. I can easily envision adding sessions on serving kids with aggressive behavior, expanded sessions on safety procedures, and content on working with parents of kids with hidden disabilities who have kids with hidden disabilities in the relatively near future. Feel free to post any suggestions you might have for training topics that you’d like our team to consider.

You’ll get an excellent educational experience if you attend a JAM Session. I’ve had the opportunity to present at major international medical conferences, as well as regional and national ministry conferences. I’ll personally attest to the quality of the training and resources distributed during the JAM Session in Cincinnati and the JAM Sessions to come. Not only will you receive the opportunity to interact with some top-flight people, but you’ll benefit from the ongoing relationships you’ll develop with our trainers and your fellow participants.

We’re hoping to set dates for JAM Sessions later this year in Houston and Des Moines, and we’re open to compelling arguments from blog readers as to why we should come and stage a JAM Session in your city or region. Everything offered during the JAM Sessions is provided, as always, free of charge to you and your church.

Pictured below: Some of our JAM Session attendees, Cincinnati, OH, March 18, 2011

If you missed the JAM Session, but would like to sample what Key Ministry has to offer, we strongly encourage you to take advantage of free registration for the first annual Children’s Ministry Telesummit, sponsored by Pajama Conference, fromApril 5-8. I’ll be discussing the impact of the “Three A’s” (ADHD, Anxiety Disorders, Asperger’s Disorder) on Spiritual Development in Kids. Katie Wetherbee will be talking on effective communication strategies with parents, and Harmony Hensley will be presenting on outward-focused inclusion. Click here for your free registration.

About Dr. G

Dr. Stephen Grcevich serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry, a non-profit organization providing free training, consultation, resources and support to help churches serve families of children with disabilities. Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), trained in General Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. He is a faculty member in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a group practice in suburban Cleveland (Family Center by the Falls), and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression. He is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Grcevich was recently recognized by Sharecare as one of the top ten online influencers in children’s mental health. His blog for Key Ministry, www.church4everychild.org was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.
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