Using a Church’s Children’s Ministry Blog for Special Needs Inclusion
Creating a church children’s ministry blog can be a great tool for both general kidmin and special needs inclusion. In early 2009, Grace Church (Greenville, SC) launched a blog for their church’s children’s ministry. Through the blog, the church’s kidmin team has created a sense of community and provided a common communication point for this multi-site church.
Grace Church’s blog gives a very personal voice to the children’s ministry and engages parents by featuring short book reviews, linked articles, and insights shared the children’s ministry team. Relevant parenting topics such as discipline, marriage, and money are all addressed in short posts. The children’s ministry also utilizes the blog as a tool for educating and creating buy-in regarding changes in ministry programming. For example, when a new system was introduced for child check-in and check-out, the staff explained the reasoning behind the decision to adopt a new process and described the benefits of the new safety procedures. What is interesting is that I am friends with Joey Espinosa, Grace Church’s Children’s Pastor, on Facebook. I see the parent dialogue Joey receives through his Facebook feed of the blog. His church’s parents and volunteers are reading the blog, making comments and asking questions – and Joey is responding. I also love how the blog links to the church’s website, giving readers the bigger vision of the children’s ministry, spotlighting individual kidmin volunteers (brilliant and endearing!), and promoting upcoming events in the children’s ministry.
Grace Church’s children’s ministry blog began spotlighting their special needs ministry this past April. Through what has now been 11 posts, the church has shared their mission for special needs inclusion both from a theological perspective and a practical “what this looks like at Grace church”. The children’s ministry team has done an excellent job of creating special needs awareness and setting expectations for the evolving ministry, as the ministry leaders recognize they are amidst a steep learning curve of their own. Emily McGowan, volunteer coordinator of Grace Church’s special needs ministry shares “It was a big deal when we started writing about the special needs ministry on the blog. It has spurred a lot of conversation in our church and many people who weren’t affected by special needs were not aware that our church was already successfully including children with a disability.” Similarly, McGowan explains that “it has been important to outline our early objectives of serving the families already attending the church” (as opposed to proactive outreach) “because we want to make sure we get this right and do special needs inclusion well.”
Grace Church currently serves the families of fifteen children affected by disability. McGowan proudly points out that “many of our participating children with special needs also have parents serving in other areas of our church. By providing special needs ‘shadows’ we know we are indirectly freeing parents to serve in other ministries throughout the church.” Click here to see the special needs posts on Grace Church’s children’s ministry blog.
P.S. Grace Church has one of the best children’s ministry safety plans I have come across. I am crazy passionate about the need for every church to create a safety-minded culture with good child protection policies. Sex abuse prevention, emergency evacuation plans and volunteer guidelines become even more crucial for a church desiring special needs inclusion.
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– Amy Fenton Lee