Libby Peterson: The Church Has Left the Building

If our Key Ministry team had to identify our “founding mother,” she would be Libby Peterson.

Libby has served Bay Presbyterian Church for 20 years – as Director of Children’s Ministry and most recently as Family Ministry Director. She was instrumental in helping begin the church’s Special Needs Ministry which serves over 30 children and their families. Libby also serves as Vice-President of Key Ministry, where her wisdom, patience and common sense serve as a welcome counterbalance to some of the rougher edges of our Board President.

Libby’s talk for Inclusion Fusion is entitled Inclusion: An idea, an event or a lifestyle? Libby has graciously shared a preview of her talk for this year in the form of a blog post, The Church Has Left the Building

What if the church left the building?

“So, you mean that we can invite the child we just met at the respite event to our house for my son’s birthday party?”

The question was asked at a gathering we held following a respite event at our church. We invited volunteers who served at the event to my house to debrief the respite and talk about connections they had made with the kids.

My answer to that question was an unreserved and totally enthusiastic: “YESSSSSSSSSSSSSS!”

We held this gathering to begin to cast a vision for a next step in ministry that took ministry outside the walls of the church. I believe ministry happens best when real relationships develop – and we wanted to encourage our families to people to begin building relationships/friendships with the families they served. Our hope is that through these relationships not only will these families be drawn closer to Christ, but that through these relationships we’d be able to develop relationships with families they know who we don’t know or ever see at one of our events.  And some real friendships have emerged.. ..and we’ve learned AGAIN just how much we need each other. Once real friendships emerge, the depths of some of the real needs surface too. One family might not have all it takes to really love and serve another. We need each other.

So we started asking: What if several families from the church who care about reaching families with children with special needs began to get together  in community and as a community they were intentional about doing ministry outside the walls of the church – to love and serve and reach families with children with special needs?

And what if – through these friendships over time, the families with children with special needs were invited to be part of these communities?  After all  – belonging to a community of Christ – followers is the best way to learn to follow Christ!

We are challenging ourselves to take that next step in ministry – to move from ministry through programs to ministry through lifestyle. . .from asking families to come and be with us – to going to be one of them.

What if we woke up one day and discovered – as one of my pastors, Carol Rettew, recently put it –

The church has left the building!!!!!!

How exciting to envision the church on mission to families with children with special needs – on their turf!

For an additional sample of what you might expect from Libby’s presentation this year, here’s her video from Inclusion Fusion 2011 on Relational Respite…

Inclusion Fusion, Key Ministry’s second annual Special Needs Ministry Web Summit is made available FREE OF CHARGE to pastors, church staff, volunteers and families everywhere from November 12th-16th, 2012. For an up to date list of speakers, topics, links to speaker blogs and a link for free registration, click here.

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, was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.
This entry was posted in Families, Hidden Disabilities, Inclusion, Inclusion Fusion, Key Ministry, Resources, Strategies and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Libby Peterson: The Church Has Left the Building

  1. I’m looking forward to Libby’s presentation. I love her relational perspective and how she applies it to practical day-to-day Christianity.


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