Church, We’ve Got a Problem

We’re wrapping up 2012 by sharing our ten most viewed blog posts of 2012, counting down to #1 on New Years Eve. Here’s #10…

How will the church serve a generation of families with kids who have issues with emotions or behavior that interfere with their ability to function on a day to day basis?

Kids with “hidden disabilities” like these are gradually becoming the new normal. Check out this study in the current issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. To summarize:

22 % of U.S. children entering first grade met criteria for at least one mental disorder. Kids with autism spectrum disorders or developmental disabilities were excluded from this sample.

The most common condition experienced was Simple Phobia (9.0%). Other common conditions included ADHD (8.7%), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (8.4%), Separation Anxiety Disorder (2.1%) and Tic Disorders (1.7%).

An important point the authors of the study made was to note that the 22% figure applies only to kids who demonstrated problems that interfered significantly with their ability to function normally on a day to day basis. In lay terms, that means the child is able to learn at a level consistent with their intelligence in school, make and keep friends in an age-appropriate manner, function in an age-appropriate way as a member of their family and participate in extracurricular activities common for that community…like church.

The numbers quoted in this study from Yale are pretty consistent with data reported elsewhere. If you were to look at the kids involved with children’s programming at your church, do you think anywhere near 22% of the children being served experience one or more of these conditions? If not, let me welcome you to the new mission field down the street and around the block from your church.

Next, we’ll talk about how the church can be equipped and unleashed to welcome and minister to the families of this generation and their kids.

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Key CatalogLooking for a last minute Christmas gift for the person who has everything…including a relationship with Jesus? Consider something from the Key Catalog! You can sponsor anything from an on-site consultation at a local church, the addition of a new site for church-based respite care to a “JAM Session” to help multiple churches launch special needs ministries in your metropolitan area. Click the icon on the right to explore the Key Catalog!

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.
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