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

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

Harmony currently serves as Key Ministry’s  Director of Ministry Advancement. Previously, she served as Pastor 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. 

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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Key CatalogOur Key Ministry team is very much in need of your support if we are to continue to provide free training, consultation and resources to churches. Please consider either an online donation or a sponsorship 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 left 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.
This entry was posted in Hidden Disabilities, Inclusion, Key Ministry, Ministry Environments, Strategies and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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