One prominent topic of conversation in the nightly Tweetchats that occurred during Inclusion Fusion 2012 involved “next steps” for the disability ministry movement. God is clearly raising up many empowered leaders to advance the cause of including families impacted by disabilities at church. But what common strategies should leaders and organizations adopt in order for the movement to advance?
We need to think about disability more broadly. The population of families for whom physical disabilities remain a barrier to church attendance is relatively small. The population of children and adults with intellectual disabilities is also fairly small when compared to the general population. Only when we include kids and adults with emotional, behavioral and developmental disabilities do the numbers become too large for church leaders to ignore. We also reduce the number of potential advocates for disability inclusion when we define “disability” or “special needs” too narrowly.
We need to proactively seek to develop relationships with leaders in other areas of ministry. The disability ministry movement is best served through the development of partnerships with senior pastors, youth pastors, children’s ministry leaders and proponents of family ministry. We need to listen to the objections raised by other ministry leaders and consider their feedback in developing creative strategies for inclusion ministry that work while taking into account the competing demands and pressures for volunteers and resources other ministry leaders face.
We need to help other ministry leaders become more effective in their work. We’ll develop credibility in the larger church by using the relationships we build to help other ministry leaders solve problems. We’d want a senior pastor or executive pastor to immediately consider the need to have disability ministry leaders at the table when contemplating adoption or foster care initiatives, examining reasons why families leave the church, evaluating the need for counseling ministries and discussions of protection policies for children and youth, just to name a few situations in which our input might be useful.
We need to make it easy for churches to become intentional about including individuals with disabilities and their families. As we concluded in our No Excuses post, resources are available to help support church leaders in ministering to nearly any family struggling with nearly any disability. We can work together through becoming better acquainted with the resources of one another’s ministries in order to find resources that complement our own, and to use our respective platforms to make it easier for church staff and volunteers to find the best resources to support their ministry needs. While funding is a pressing issue for nearly every disability ministry, I can’t help but believe that God will provide the necessary supports for every ministry that seeks first to enlarge His Kingdom.
Thanks to the generosity of our partners at Pajama Conference, Inclusion Fusion is going to be available online through Sunday, December 2nd. Feel free to go back onto the site and check out any presentations you weren’t able to view this past week. Invite your friends to register to check out presentations they might appreciate! If you were registered for Inclusion Fusion, your existing password will continue to work for the site. New registrants will get their own unique password to use on the site.
Pajama Conference is making available for sale a boxed set of DVDs containing all of the video presentations and downloads from Inclusion Fusion 2012. The complete set of conference videos is available for $49.99. The boxed set is a great gift for churches desirous of a resource for training staff and volunteers, as well as for families caring for a child or adult with special needs. Pajama Conference uses the proceeds from the video sale to fund free ministry training, including the Children’s Ministry Web Summit and Inclusion Fusion. Click here to order…
Thanks, Steve, for your thoughtful and concise post!
AND how about those Browns today?! – that ought to be something (on the positive side of their ledger) to beat the several time world champion Steelers.
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The concept of numbers being the reason church leaders cannot ignore people with disabilities is devaluing to every individual with a disability. Your quote: “Only when we include kids and adults with emotional, behavioral and developmental disabilities do the numbers become too large for church leaders to ignore” gives away power to a controlling elite, that have deemed themselves “the church”. The church that is not a full body and does not desire to be for any other reason than Biblical mandate, is simply not the church. We must move ahead on the basis of the value of every one of Gods people, the ruling “church” needs all the gifts of all the people, not the a lot of the gifts that some of the people have a lot of. Martin Luther King said “Discrimination is a hellhound that gnaws at us in every waking moment of our lives to remind us that the lie of our inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating us.” With out the change of our system of value, the church will never really be inclusive.
Thanks for your comments…I thought they deserved their own post, and I needed to further clarify my thoughts… http://wp.me/pd3Cx-Pk
Reblogged this on MINISTRY MOMENTS and commented:
Graciously shared by our colleague, Dr. Steve Grcevich, the following post represents his reflections after the conclusion of Key Ministry’s recent Inclusion Fusion special needs ministry web conference…