In Part Five of our current blog series Key Ministry 2.0 we’ll look at some of the gifts we offer to the church for the purpose of advancing ministry to and with families of kids with mental illness, trauma and developmental disabilities.
This past August, one of our Board members put us through a little exercise as part of our planning process for Key Ministry. She grabbed a marker, proceeded to the whiteboard, and shared that the gifts of an organization are generally found in one of four areas…
She then asked a couple of questions…
- How do you think we’re perceived by others?
- Where do you think we can make our greatest contribution?
While our team has significant contributions to make in all four areas, we concluded that our greatest giftedness lies in the area of knowledge.
Here’s an observation about the church…not meant as a criticism-just an observation. At times, we in the church tend to devalue the importance of knowledge and experience while placing high value on calling and supernatural giftedness. Knowledge and experience compliment calling and giftedness.
We’ve been very intentional while building our ministry team in pursuing wise, mature Christians with great experience in serving kids with mental illness, trauma or developmental disabilities, along with leaders with many years of experience working in churches. Here’s why…
If a pastor, a volunteer or a parent are called to pursue intentional ministry to include kids with disabilities and their families within their home churches, they frequently experience two major impediments specifically related to a lack of knowledge or understanding…
1. With mental illness representing by far and away the most common disabling condition among children and teens in the U.S., lack of understanding about mental illness among clergy and laypeople in the local church represents a major obstacle to effective ministry. People tend to fear what they don’t understand. If we’re to help the church to overcome this fear, we need leaders with unimpeachable credibility who can effectively communicate the needs of families of kids with mental illness in a manner that empowers church leaders to develop effective strategies for outreach and inclusion. Going forward, Key Ministry has a big role to play in educating the church (and our colleagues in disability ministry) about the impact of mental illness on children and families. We’re building a team capable of fulfilling that role.
2. Church leaders need to feel understood before they can seek to understand how they might minister effectively to kids with disabilities within the context of their unique church cultures. We’ll talk more in a subsequent post about the struggles local church leaders wrestle with on a daily basis, but without the ability to demonstrate to churches that we can help them “do ministry” with families impacted by disability without compromising other ministry opportunities and help them to overcome obstacles to change, we’ll have lots of churches with unfulfilled good intentions. There’s a reason why we have a ministry team leader with 33 years of experience as a senior pastor in a “megachurch”, a highly-involved Board member with 20 years of church staff experience in children’s and family ministry and a long-time worship pastor with extensive experience in the use of media in the church as members of our team.
A brief word on innovation…we’ve mentioned before the idea that “to reach people no one else is reaching, we have to try stuff no one else is trying“. In doing some background reading, I discovered that the word “innovate” is derived from a middle French word that can be translated as renewal. Our team has the ability to translate a reasonably deep understanding of mental illnesses, the impact of trauma and/or neglect, and differences in capacity for social relatedness and information processing and apply that understanding in helping kids and families to thrive in the environment of the local church.
In my world, when presented with a problem for which effective treatments (solutions) are lacking, after considerable observation, one draws from experience in forming hypotheses about possible solutions, tests those solutions, and disseminates the results so that others can improve upon those solutions. I think we’re called to apply a similar process in seeking better ways to help the church more effectively serve, welcome and include the the kids and families who are the focus of our ministry.
We’re embracing our calling. And in doing so, we’re hoping to help the church embrace many with gifts and talents intended to help the church change the world…
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
― Apple Inc.