One of the goals of our team at Key Ministry when we put together Inclusion Fusion in partnership with Jeremy Collins (a children’s pastor) and his team at Pajama Conference was to establish a community where pastors, children’s and youth ministry leaders, disability ministry leaders and families could connect to share ideas in order to help more churches connect with more families of kids and adults with special needs.
Thanks to the incredible support of Chuck Swindoll, his daughter Colleen, and their team at Insight for Living, Inclusion Fusion has been successful beyond our wildest expectations. The interest in the conference was so great on our first day that the media team had to replace their servers to manage the volume of internet traffic!
As the Chairman of the Inclusion Fusion Program Committee, I wanted to invite our friends and colleagues in Kidmin to be part of the conference. Now that we’ve extended the conference through Monday, November 7 (due to connection issues caused by the internet traffic), I thought I’d help our friends in children’s ministry identify some presentations of interest.
Harmony Hensley from Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnati (also a part of our Key Ministry team) did a wonderful presentation on developing inclusive ministry environments, building from a breakout session she gave at this year’s Orange Conference. Not every church is going to be led to develop a stand-alone ministry but every church can be thoughtful about creating welcoming environments with lighting, music, registration processes and signage that help as many kids and families as possible to have a great experience in learning about Jesus and connecting with one another. Many kids with “hidden disabilities” have difficulty with sensory processing. Lighting, noises and sounds that the rest of us experience routinely may be distressing to kids with disabilities. Harmony speaks from her experience as Pastor of Outreach and Inclusion at a very large church, along with her pre-ministry career as an interior designer in offering lots of helpful suggestions for welcoming as many kids and teens with disabilities as possible into your existing programming. Download her Power Point presentation from here prior to watching her talk-the pictures and slides are very helpful!
Rhonda Martin is a Key Ministry Board member and a well-known author and speaker. After starting her career in human resources, Rhonda transitioned into counseling, and developed an expertise in treating kids and adults with anxiety disorders. She is currently in the midst of a worldwide tour promoting her most recent release Stuck, a children’s book written to help kids and families understand and seek help for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Rhonda’s Inclusion Fusion talk is on Nurturing Spiritual Growth in Kids With Anxiety. Anxiety represents a classic “hidden disability”…an emotional, behavioral, developmental or neurologic problem lacking outwardly apparent physical symptoms. Rhonda’s talk will help church leaders and parents understand ways in which having anxiety can become an impediment to church attendance and participation, and offers practical strategies to help overcome these impediments.
Amy Dolan has served the Curriculum Writer and Programmer for Promiseland at Willow Creek Church, and served in the position of Executive Director of Children’s Ministries for the Willow Creek Association. She is currently serving as Founder, Leader, and Blogger of Lemon Lime Kids – a Children’s Ministry Consulting Company, as Director of What Matters Now and as Curriculum Writer for What’s In the Bible? Amy has been extraordinarily gracious to our ministry team as we’ve sought to build relationships within the children’s ministry community. You’ll definitely want to check out her presentation for Inclusion Fusion on Customizing Your Curriculum for children with special needs.
Cara Daily is a young research child psychologist who left the Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism to launch her own treatment center where she could incorporate biblically-based teaching with evidence-based treatment for kids on the autism spectrum. I’ve had the honor of serving on the Board of her non-profit organization, Inner Health Ministries Child Center, and she in turn has been a valuable member of our Key Ministry Board. Cara did a presentation on the topic Autism Spectrum Disorders: Practical Tips for the Church. In her presentation, Cara provides an overview of autism spectrum disorders, including diagnosis and treatment. Practical interventions for church staff and volunteers serving children and youth with autism are discussed.
Roman Catholic churches face unique challenges in welcoming families of kids with special needs because of the expectations that everyone be present during Mass (worship service). The movement among churches seeking to become more inclusive to families of kids with disabilities is not confined to Mainline Protestant, Baptist, Pentecostal and non-denominational congregations. Amanda Mooney shares her expertise in ministry to kids in a large Catholic church (6,000 FAMILIES) in her presentation, “We know we should…but HOW?”
In addition, I’d direct you to three other presentations that might be of interest. Jeremy Collins is a children’s pastor in Lexington, KY and founder of Pajama Conference, the media team we partnered with at Key Ministry in order to put on Inclusion Fusion. Jeremy is also a tech and communications wizard. He did an excellent, short video on Using Social Media in Special Needs Ministry that’s applicable for children’s ministry as well.
Libby Peterson is Director of Family Ministry at Bay Presbyterian Church in Bay Village, Ohio. Her efforts to serve families in her church who adopted kids from orphanages in eastern Europe spurred the creation of Key Ministry. She’s speaking on the topic Relational Respite-A “Go To Them” Approach. Libby has developed an approach for respite outreach that can be adopted by churches of any size in an outwardly-focused model that promotes full inclusion of families touched by disability in the social fabric of the church. Libby also has shared from her wisdom and experience in implementing a family-based ministry philosophy with the families of kids with special needs served through the ministry of her church.
Finally, I’d hope you’d find the interview I did with Katie Wetherbee on “Kids With Issues…The Mission Field Next Door” to be helpful. 22% of kids in the U.S. entering the first grade meet criteria for at least one mental health disorder. Families of kids with these disorders are much less likely to attend church on a regular basis. In the interview, I have an opportunity to talk about the extent of the problem and the services Key Ministry provides to churches free of charge to help them serve, welcome and include families of kids with hidden disabilities.
For a complete listing of 2011 Inclusion Fusion Speakers and Topics, click here.
To download any available speaker handouts/Power Point slides, click here.
To access Live Chat with conference presenters, click here.
INCLUSION FUSION NOW EXTENDED THROUGH MONDAY, NOVEMBER 7th! Chuck Swindoll and more than twenty-five ministry leaders are coming together on November 3rd-7th as part of a Special Needs Ministry Web Summit for church staff, volunteers, family members and caregivers everywhere. Inclusion Fusion is a Key Ministry event, presented FREE OF CHARGE with the support of Pajama Conference. Register here for the Summit!