We’re concluding our miniseries examining Six “Key” Strategies…operating principles and approaches that provide a framework for our staff and volunteers when unexpected opportunities arise. Today, we’ll examine our efforts to take advantage of new technologies to advance our mission of helping churches connect with kids with disabilities and their families.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)
“To reach people no one else is reaching, we have to try stuff no one else is trying.”
The greatest obstacle we face in sharing the Gospel with kids with disabilities and their families rests in the challenges presented by the environments in which we worship and do much of what we refer to as “ministry.” Our newfound ability to connect with people anywhere, at any time provides us with a tool to bridge the barriers that currently exist at church for kids who process sensory information differently, evaluate risk differently and maintain self control differently than kids considered more “typical.”
Consider the barriers kids encounter who have disabilities, but would never be thought of (or think of themselves) as having “special needs”…
- The bustle, light, color and noise of our ministry environments for kids and teens
- The social demands of our church environments for the child (or parent) with difficulty processing body language or social cues.
- Expectations for self-control for a child who struggles with hyperactivity, stereotypical movements, vocal/motor tics or poor impulse control.
- The times when we do worship aren’t necessarily convenient for families of kids with disabilities. Parents are frequently exhausted by Sunday morning. Sleep disorders are common among kids with mental health conditions.
- Many of our churches that are most effective at sharing the Gospel in an engaging and relevant manner don’t have supports in place for families of kids who need 1:1 support to function at church.
The beauty of our new technology is that we in the church now have the ability to provide introductory opportunities for worship and discipleship to families of kids with disabilities within their preferred environments. That doesn’t mean that families will stay within those environments forever. A goal of any online church initiative to serve families of kids with disabilities must be to serve as a catalyst to those families worshiping Jesus in the physical presence of other believers.
We need to put some other supports in place first before plunging into online ministry. We’ll need hundreds of churches across the U.S. and beyond to which we can direct families who connect through online worship, Bible studies and small groups. We need churches prepared to offer respite care and other practical supports. But we HAVE to try something different. There’s too much at stake for us not to!
In addition to online worship and outreach, the ability to train church staff and volunteers online is a must as we push forward with our mission. We don’t have the money or the staff and volunteer resources to travel to all of the places where we might have impact for the Kingdom.
We’ve sought to make as many of our resources available for free online…our Inclusion Fusion library (to be updated in 2013 with last year’s Inclusion Fusion presentations, our new Website, and the Disability Ministry Web Summit we’ve hosted for the last two years.
I think web-based technology will have a greater impact upon the future church than the invention of the printing press…which contributed greatly to the Reformation. Key Ministry will be at the forefront of the new technology…using it to share the love of Christ with families of kids with disabilities.
Our 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 right to explore the Key Catalog!