Interest group meetings can be especially helpful when you want to learn who are the families living with disability in your church and how to best serve them. Here are a few ideas for hosting an interest group meeting that works in your church context:
- Make the meeting announcement warm and inviting. When appropriate, invite families personally. Make it clear that you are not asking for any commitment. You simply want to hear from your families about their lives so that you can glean ideas.
- Consider how wide to open the circle. Some families will be comfortable identifying with disability while others will not. If you want to include families may not typically be associated with a disability ministry, specifically address them in the invitation. See the example below.
- Provide childcare and activities for older kids and teens. When possible, offer activities for kids with disabilities and their siblings at the church (or wherever the meeting is held). You want to make it as easy as possible for parents and caregivers to attend the meeting. Activities can be as simple as playground time, games, crafts, or a movie with popcorn.
- Carefully plan the meeting agenda. Include a big-picture vision for ministry and where you ultimately want to be as a church. Be honest about the realities of where the church is currently. The more honest you are, the more open your families are likely to be.
- Encourage families to share both ver writing. Some families will not feel comfortable sharing out loud, so have a brief questionnaire that they can fill out if they want. Encourage them to give you additional information or thoughts that they have later.
Here is a sample announcement that you might adapt for your ministry:
If you or someone in your family has a disability, our church would love to get to know you more! We are hosting an interest meeting so we may learn more about your family and ways our church can come alongside you for care, encouragement, and discipleship. This meeting is for people of all ages and with any disabling condition, including learning disabilities, families with mental health diagnoses, and the elderly. Our only objective is to get to know you better so that we can more effectively plan our upcoming year of disability ministry at [church name]. To register or reserve childcare (birth to age 15), email us at [email address].
Would you like to hear how other churches have conducted interest meetings? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t miss our free online training opportunities this month! Each training includes a presentation and a question and answer time with the staff. Trainings last approximately one hour and fifteen minutes.
MOVING FROM HELLO TO THE HEART OF THE CHURCH: HOW TO NAVIGATE CHURCH AS A FAMILY TOUCHED BY DISABILITY
Tuesday, February 19, 2019
8 pm ET | 7 pm CT | 6 pm MT | 5 pm PT
Teacher: Ashley Belknap, Director of Engaging Disability With The Gospel
Families who are impacted by disability often find navigating church to be a challenge. There are many strategies that families can initiate and employ as they navigate hallways, worship in the pews, enfold into small groups, and fellowship with others.
We want your family growing in the Lord and enfolding well into your church, and we want to equip you to treat challenges as opportunities for growth.
In this online training, we will cover:
- Building relationships with the church staff
- Navigating hallways, transitions, and friendships
- Building on small steps in worship and discipleship
- Being a positive catalyst for change in your church
Reserve your spot for this online training session today! You will receive an email with a login link that is unique to you.
YOUTH MINISTRY: ENFOLDING AND DISCIPLING TEENS WITH DISABILITIES
Thursday, February 28, 2019
NOON/MORNING SESSION: 12 pm ET | 11 am CT | 10 am MT | 9 am PT
EVENING SESSION: 8 pm ET | 7 pm CT | 6 pm MT | 5 pm PT
Teacher: Ashley Belknap, Director of Engaging Disability With The Gospel
Transitioning from children’s ministry to youth ministry is a major rite of passage for covenant kids. We want teens with disabilities to thrive in their youth ministries. However, the transition for many of them is difficult because of increased social expectations and learning demands.
In this online training we will explore various options for better transitioning, assimilating, and discipling your youth who have cognitive, physical, and learning impairments.
Topics we will cover:
- Social barriers and expectations in youth groups
- Several models for inclusion and useful adaptations
- Transitioning from children’s ministry into youth ministry
- Partnering with parents
- Tips for bringing along your entire youth group in being comfortable with disabilities
Reserve your spot today for the Morning session on February 28, 2019. You will receive an email with a login link that is unique to you.
Reserve your spot today for the Evening session on February 28, 2019. You will receive an email with a login link that is unique to you.
Even as I write this, our nation continues the heated debate over health care reform. As a former college instructor in Economics, a current disability ministry leader, and the parent of an adult with Down syndrome, this topic captures my attention—and my heart. The discipline of Economics can be described as “the study of the allocation of scarce resources to alternative and competing wants.” Or in simpler language: limited resources and unlimited wants. Who gets what? And who chooses? In a postmodern context where we as a culture will not acknowledge nor agree upon a set of transcendent values, the dialogue over important issues breaks down.
But we as the Church do have a set of transcendent values rooted in the holy character of God. We also know the nearness of God in Christ, who has shown us what the costly, voluntary, sacrificial love of the Father looks like in everyday relationships with others. And because of Christ’s costly, voluntary, sacrificial love on Calvary—followed by his victorious resurrection—we have the indwelling, life-transforming power of the Holy Spirit. He gives us the wisdom, strength and courage to act on what we know is good and true according to God’s Word. In other words, you and I are without excuse.
In the Parable of the Great Banquet in Luke 14 (which could be titled the Parable of the Great Excuses), Jesus tells us to “Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.” According to Jesus, his love is not dispensed by the government or sold by a corporation.
How much love have you and I been sharing lately with those who are marginalized by society? Valuing the sanctity of human life means much more than articulating accurate theology. It means living out our theology, as Joni Eareckson Tada says, “with our sleeves rolled up.” I would suggest that the sanctity of human life is not as much about what I am against as what I am for. It is about being for the life of my neighbor—from conception to natural death.
Every human life is the inseparable intertwining of a physical body and a spiritual person. We cannot minister to the one without ministering to the other. That is why the gospel—the good news of the coming of the Kingdom—comes in word and deed. The Parable of the Great Banquet extends an invitation of honor—given with urgency—and follows with a meal that meets the real needs of thirst and hunger, both spiritual and physical.
I trust that you recognize that, no matter who “wins” the current round of the health care debate, we are living in a time when the allocation of scarce resources to unlimited wants will increasingly affect the lives of the most vulnerable in society: the elderly, the disabled, and the unborn. It is an economic reality with eternal consequences. And that weighs heavily on my heart because we, the Church, are not ready for the task.
The Church is to be for the lives of our neighbors with special needs—from conception to natural death. Will our congregations go out into the streets and alleys and find our neighbors with disabilities? Will we pass out the invitations to the Great Banquet with a passionate sense of honor and urgency?
I challenge you to consider that the Great Banquet is never fully experienced by any of us until all of those who Jesus intended to be there are there.
As 2018 draws to a close, we would like to share many areas of ministry that this past year included.
- We conducted 173 consultations with families and congregations plus 17 onsite consultations with churches.
- We presented and exhibited at 4 conferences held by The Gospel Coalition, CDM’s ONE Women’s Ministry, and CDM’s ESTABLISHED Children’s Ministry.
- We presented 7 training workshops at conferences.
- We made 9 presentations at PCA churches.
- We made 2 presentations at PCA presbyteries.
- We began a new online training program and presented 13 live online sessions on a variety of topics including:
- Teaching Elders: Next Steps in Embracing Disability Ministry in Your Church
- Ruling Elders: Understanding Your Role in Facilitating Disability Ministry in Your Church Context
- The Role of the Deacon in Disability Ministry
- The Church and Diaconal Care in Disability Ministry
- Disability Across the Lifespan: Adapting Ministry to Engage Your Families
- Enfolding and Discipling Teens with Disabilities
- Developing Friendships with Adults Who Have Disabilities
- Enfolding Seniors into the Reach of Your Disability Ministry
- Buoying the Caregiver: What Every Church Can Do
- Buddy Training for Volunteers, Parents, and Church Workers
- Peer Buddy Training for Kids and Youth
- Encountering Problem Behaviors: A Gospel-Centered Approach for Every Child
- Utilizing Church Websites to Serve Families Touched by Disability
Registrations came from churches and families in 28 states and 5 nations. Participants included pastors, elders, deacons, church staff, church members, volunteers, parents, people with disabilities, and caregivers.
We were able to do all these things because of the generous giving of churches, organizations, and individuals throughout 2018. Engaging Disability With The Gospel is entirely funded by contributions from people just like you.
We are very close to reaching our financial goal for 2019 which will enable us to expand ministry with churches and come alongside even more families touched by disability. Would you consider investing in Engaging Disability With The Gospel?
We need 12 individuals to contribute $19 per month in 2019.
We need 5 one-time gifts of $190 before year-end.
Your investment in this ministry enables us to:
- educate congregations
- train volunteers, church staff members, and families
- provide adaptations and accommodations to make discipleship and growth in Christ a reality for our friends whose lives are impacted by disability.
Your giving makes a difference!
Your partnership will enable us to engage disability with the gospel across 1,900+ PCA churches.
Many thanks and wishing you a Happy New Year!