Leading a Church’s Inclusion Initiative
The last week of April I led two workshops at the Orange Conference in Atlanta, GA. I was pinching myself to be rubbing elbows with some of the most passionate believers who also influence the larger faith community. Special needs inclusion was a big buzz at this year’s Orange Conference. The ReThink Group (the people behind Orange) made an intentional decision to expand their inclusion focus by offering a greater number of related breakouts. The seven special needs workshops were each filled with church representatives from all over the U.S. and Canada, who were eager to be equipped for better inclusion.
One of the take-aways participants shared with me after my workshops was how surprised and encouraged they were that I have no formal education in the area of special needs. As I started each workshop I openly shared about my journey into this subject matter, which includes neither an associated college degree nor the experience of being a special needs parent. Many of the workshop participants were like me, serving in their church’s student ministry and called to help their church achieve better special needs inclusion. Coming into the workshops, some of these same individuals felt intimidated by the idea of simultaneously learning and leading their church through an inclusion initiative. Leaving the workshops, I hope (and sense) these same participants felt relieved knowing that their lack of credentials may not have any bearing on their ministry’s success. (Kind of reminds me of the story of Moses, who was arguably the less qualified brother to lead the Israelites).
Tony Kummer from Ministry-to-Children.com was kind enough to record and post the interview of me that was live streamed during the conference. I talked about the fact that God does call and equip people like me to serve and even lead their church in a special needs capacity. This 13-minute interview is packed with pointers for church leaders in the process of developing or growing an inclusion initiative.
Today, the Orange Leaders Blog is launching a 3-part series to equip church leaders as they guide their churches to better special needs inclusion. I wrote this series for the church leader who has no prior training in the area of special education or pediatric therapy. Today’s post addresses the importance of developing and Communicating a Vision for Special Needs Inclusion.