Around this time last year, three of our Board members made a proposal to use online church services as a strategy for connecting families with local churches when a suggestion was proposed. Folks on the Board were convicted about doing more to help individuals and families who are without a church because of “special needs” or behavioral health issues to connect virtually with local churches where they might worship and build relationships with other Christ followers. What they proposed and our Board adopted was a plan for a new division of Key Ministry.
Key for Families will be coming to fruition early this Spring. With the help of our friends at the Creative Church Company, we’ll be building a digital platform from which we will be launching our outreach to families. What will our outreach to families look like?
A blog for families…Our Board members wanted to build our outreach through making available regular encouragement and support to families impacted by emotional, behavioral, developmental or physical disabilities. Accessing the resources of Not Alone was foundational to to our plan.
Not Alone was started by our friend and former colleague Mike Woods to help families impacted by disability to find faith and friendship for their journey. The content for the blog is generated by a team of seventeen Christian parents of kids with disabilities who are all published authors. Our team viewed Not Alone as the premier Christian site for parents of kids with disabilities, and we’re thrilled to have them come alongside us for this ministry adventure! Sandra Peoples, the current editor of the blog, will be leading our outreach to families.
A place to discover resources…We’re part of a disability ministry movement made up of fabulous people and organizations. The sheer volume of content available online can be overwhelming to parents and families. We want to help families find other ministries and organizations offering free, church-based respite care, mentoring, support groups, Bible and book studies and online groups.
A place to connect…Families who register for the site (free of charge) will have the opportunity to join “communities” we’ll be establishing on Facebook with other families with whom they share something in common. Within these communities, families will have the opportunities to join book studies – often led by the authors of the books themselves, accompanied by opportunities to interact in real time through videoconferencing technology. Some of the communities we plan to often include…
- Pastors, church staff and spouses
- Adoptive and foster parents
- Parents of medically fragile kids
- Single parents
- Autism/Asperger’s Disorder
- Genetic syndromes
- Mental health
Online worship opportunities and devotionals…When we experimented in 2014 and 2015 with offering online church services, our Board concluded that it’s easy enough for families to find church online with teaching presented by the most gifted pastors in the world. If we’re to offer online devotionals or teaching, we need to develop content to address the unique challenges and needs experienced by families impacted by common disabilities.
Part of the plan for our family outreach is to offer worship services and preaching created uniquely for individuals and families wrestling with disability-related challenges. This part of the plan is temporarily on hold until we have the human and financial resources to offer content with excellence. Families will be able to connect with churches that pursue disability inclusion and offer online campuses and groups through our platform.
So…what does any of this have to do with the title of today’s post?
The reason why we’re doing all this is to create an online platform to help families connect with local churches so they might experience worship and fellowship in the physical presence of other Christ-followers. We seek to connect families with churches close to where they live. We need lots and lots of churches willing and prepared to welcome families impacted by disability. And that’s where you come in.
Sandra is putting together a database of churches that are intentional in welcoming and pursuing families affected by disability. PURE Ministries has assembled a list of churches on their website offering disability ministry. What’s different about the listing we’re putting together is that we don’t plan to make it publicly available (but will share with any disability ministry leader who requests it) but will use it to make online introductions (through e-mail, Facebook or videoconferencing) between families interested in connecting with a local church and ministry leaders connected with a local church. We think families are more likely to try out church if they’ve made a connection with a person in the church to help them have a great experience. We’ll also be devoting staff and volunteer time to keep the list current.
If your church is in any way intentional about welcoming and including families impacted by disability, we’d very much like to connect with you and offer your church as a resource to families from your area who come through our platform. We have an online form for you to complete if you’re interested in welcoming families looking to connect with a church. We’re pulling our list together now in advance of launching the new platform in April. Churches that register will be invited to videoconferences in advance of the launch where Sandra and I will share more of our strategy and offer previews of the platform.
We look forward to your church joining us in our Key for Families outreach!
Key Ministry is pleased to make available our FREE consultation service to pastors, church leaders and ministry volunteers. Got questions about launching a ministry that you can’t answer…here we are! Have a kid you’re struggling to serve? Contact us! Want to kick around a problem with someone who’s “been there and done that?” Click here to submit a request!
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This is fantastic! I will share this with our church leaders and pastors. This year our focus is families impacted by disability. This is a great tool to help our churches become fully inclusive to all.
I have a service dog and finding a church that allows him is near impossible.can you help me find a church in my area?
Where do you live? That’s why we’re putting together this database.
thanks a lot for sending mail on the project of disability and Church affiliated, kindly tell me if my church ln Kenya can be part of disability team.
I oversee a graced program and ministry called Operation Meaningful Life. The work it does is God’s work, not ours, and it does what other programs will not do: train those individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities to lead productive lives for their entire individual lifespans. We now seeking to work with a church, or churches, that is willing to accept God’s call to this ministry. We currently live in the Jacksonville, Florida, area but we are willing to relocate the program—or expand the program— to other areas, depending upon where God directs us to go. We have already received national attention from families and professionals, and have been featured in Autism Parenting Magazine. Sadly, thus far we cannot find any church in our area that is willing to assist us in expanding our services. Feel free to see our Facebook page at Operation Meaningful Life, and to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 904-379-0883. Thank you.