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Leading a Church’s Inclusion Initiative

May 10, 2011

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 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.

  1. Sometimes I think those of us with the most experience with special needs (aka the parents) are actually the least able to start making the church more inclusive… simply because we are already overwhelmed with the task of making it through each day. I love that there are people like you out there who care about us enough to work so hard on our behalf. It is a beautiful thing and one we really do appreciate. 🙂

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  1. Children’s Ministry People You Should Know – Amy Fenton Lee | Dad in the Middle

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