Church…A Hostile Environment? (Part Two) Harmony Hensley

Our featured blogger today is our Key Ministry teammate and Inclusion Fusion Speaker Harmony Hensley, with part two of her post from Tuesday on ways in which church may represent a “hostile” environment to families of kids with hidden disabilities.

Harmony currently serves as Pastor and Director of Outreach and Inclusion Ministries at Vineyard Cincinnati. The Vineyard has been ranked as one of the 50 most influential churches in America and is known for a strong outward focus and servant culture. Harmony has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Cincinnati Christian University with a double major in Ministry Leadership and Biblical Studies. She is currently pursuing her Graduate degree majoring in Church Growth and Planting.

There is also a “human” component to your ministry environments.  This can certainly be the trickiest part to assess and impact, but it’s not impossible.  I’ve often said ministry would be easy if we didn’t have people involved.  (If you’ve ever worked with people you can probably identify with that statement).

Steve has done an amazing job spotlighting some issues around aggression as it relates to ministry in his most recent blog series.

I would encourage you to take a two pronged approach to making your church a more welcoming environment for families and kids impacted by disability.

First, do an honest walk through and assessment of your facility.  I certainly understand that ministry dollars are always tight but many of these solutions are free to inexpensive and often invite opportunities for creativity.  Create a checklist of improvements or enhancements that you and your team would like to tackle and complete them one at a time.  Before you know it you will have created a very sensory friendly space for the children you serve!

Second, invest in your volunteers.  Serving children with special needs, particularly hidden disabilities such as Aggressive Behavior Disorders, Bipolar, Autism, ADHD, and other mental health issues is intimidating.  The “people” are just as important as the paint, lights, and textures that children interact with.  (I know – I’m preaching to the choir here!  WE ALL LOVE VOLUNTEERS!!!!)  Most volunteers  feel ill-equipped to serve and reach these families.  But the good news is that there are a number of FREE resources and teachings available to you as a ministry leader to further empower your team.  Be intentional about training your volunteers (all of them in kid min; not just your inclusion volunteers) to better understand aggressive behaviors.

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KM_ForFamilies_Logo_Color_RGBKey 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!

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.
This entry was posted in Hidden Disabilities, Inclusion, Key Ministry, Ministry Environments, Strategies and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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