Originally posted on 8/21/11, revised 9/19/12). Between now and Inclusion Fusion on November 3-5, 2011 (Inclusion Fusion 2012 is scheduled for November 12-16, 2012, FREE registration available here) we’ll be introducing you to some of the speakers and ministries that will be featured during our upcoming Special Needs Ministry Web Summit. Today, we’re honored to turn the blog over to Aaron Scheffler from Mark 2 Ministries.
Aaron is currently serving as Indiana Director for Mark 2 Ministries. Mark 2 Ministries exists to encourage and equip the local church to evangelize, disciple, and integrate into their congregation individuals with disabilities. The ministry has a significant international presence in Spanish-speaking countries, the Ukraine and in Central Indiana.
Today, Aaron will share from Mark 2’s experiences in developing collaborations between like-minded churches serving persons with disabilities and their families in the greater Indianapolis area. To learn more about the services offered by Aaron and Mark 2 Ministries, click here.
Do you remember the 60’s TV show called Gilligan’s Island? As a kid, I used to watch the reruns all the time. I loved the dynamics of how the seven castaways interacted and got alone (or more appropriately didn’t get along) during their misadventures of being stranded on that deserted tropical oasis. I must say that I’m still jealous of them sleeping in hammocks every night.
The Professor was far and away my favorite character. He was a perfect blend of scientist, dreamer and Mr. Fix It. He never gave up hope of being rescued… which lead him to invent some crazy communication devices and other “technologically advanced” equipment out of coconuts and bamboo shoots! There was no problem too big or too small for him to try to figure out. It makes me smile just thinking about it!
If only the castaways would have been able to communicate with the world around them, their lives would have been drastically different. Even if they were still stuck on the island, they could have gotten answers to questions and solved most of the problems they encountered.
You may be asking yourself why I’m reminiscing about an old school TV show that hasn’t seen the light of day in years. The answer is simple: I notice a lot of similarities between the local church of today and the castaways of Gilligan’s Island. “Professional Christians” (people whose primary vocation is within a church setting) tend to think of their church buildings and what happens within them as an island. The thought of communicating with the outside world is but a fairy tale… especially in the world of disability ministry.
This line of thinking is CRAZY! I have worked in the disability world for four years with the last year being in ministry with Mark 2 Ministries. Since being with Mark 2, I have noticed this “castaway” mentality again and again in the churches with which I work. Ministry leaders feel as though they are on their own. They feel that there is nowhere to turn for help with questions, program development, volunteer training, etc. Most find themselves getting discouraged to the point where their disability ministry never really takes off or just sputters along at best.
A friend and disability ministry leader at an Indianapolis-area mega church told me very early on in my Mark 2 career about a networking group that used to meet years ago as an avenue to brainstorm, share successes and challenges, and fellowship with other disability ministry leaders around the city. Unfortunately, this group died out for various reasons. I took this small seed and planted it just to see what would happen. I approached a few key people within the Indianapolis disability ministry community to see if they would be interested in an opportunity to meet with their ministry peers. I got a resounding, “YES!,” from everyone I approached. I then went on to send out invitation letters to over 100 churches. I received several more “yes” replies… the Disability Ministry Connection was born!
The Disability Ministry Connection (called the DMC for short) is a quarterly networking meeting for disability ministry leaders, pastors and key volunteers. Each meeting is hosted by a different church in the Indianapolis area. A typical meeting lasts two hours. The first hour is used for fellowship and food (if you feed them, they will come… Ha ha!). We will also use this time to introduce any first-time attendees and give them the opportunity to share about their ministry. They also share successes and challenges within their ministries, asking questions, seeking answers. I absolutely LOVE this part of the meeting. I love watching these leaders interact and step up to share knowledge and brainstorm solutions. It is truly inspiring for me. The second hour of the meeting is devoted to the purpose of the host church highlighting their disability ministry. They tell specifically about what they do from Sunday morning to respite to mid-week small groups and more. The time always ends with a tour of the space they use for their disability ministry. You can see the other leaders soaking up the experience and the “idea wheels” churning and burning!
I have gotten great feedback from the ministry leaders who have attend. I have even been asked by several of the attendees if we could have the DMC monthly instead of quarterly. While I don’t think this will happen in the foreseeable future, I will never say never. These meetings have been such a blessing to me and to my colleagues who have attended. And they keep getting better and better as time goes by. Glory to God!
If you would like to start a network similar to the DMC in your community, please do not hesitate to call or email me. I would be more than happy to get it rolling for you!
In His Service,
Mark 2 Ministries
Key Ministry helps connect churches and families of kids with disabilities for the purpose of making disciples of Jesus Christ. In order to provide the free training, consultation, resources and support we offer every day to church leaders and family members, we depend upon the prayers and generous financial support of readers like you. Please pray for the work of our ministry and consider, if able, to support us financially!