The Inclusive Church

2 Days Until Launch: Leading a Special Needs Ministry

This coming week is The Orange Conference 2013.  This is basically the pinnacle of my year because for many months prior, I am planning the details of the special needs ministry leaders’ track.   In addition to these conference responsibilities, this year the organization behind the conference decided to provide a new resource related to special needs inclusion.  This decision was finalized in January.  And so between January 30th and March 5th, I started and finished a 50,000 word book.  (I don’t recommend such a writing timeline to anyone of sound mind!)  And since March 5th, I’ve been wading through detailed edits of the new book.  The last edit was made just last Tuesday.  (If you see me at the Orange Conference and notice the dark circles under my eyes, you’ll know why!)   The book is coming off the printer as we speak.  And so on Wednesday April 24th, The reThink Group and Orange will release the new book:

Leading a Special Needs Ministry:  A Practical Guide to Including Children and Loving Families 

This book has two distinct sections.  The first two chapters offer relational etiquette and pastoral care for how a church can show support to a family impacted by special needs.  The last seven chapters provide practical insight for starting and growing a special needs ministry.   The book provides several example documents, including a sample of ministry policies and volunteer training topics.  The book was written for one single purpose:  to help churches welcome children and families impacted by special needs.  The first two chapters of the book were written after I interviewed 60 parents of children with special needs.  The last seven chapters of the book are the result of my research on this topic for the past four years, which involved detailed interviews of more than 50 special needs ministry leaders and special education professionals.

I was fortunate to have the consultation of two special education professionals throughout the development of the manuscript.  The bios of Dr. Alyssa Barnes and Cara Martens are included in the book and I can honestly say the book is a much better resource because of their advisement and insight.  I was also blessed to have the editorial eyes of Jennifer Manley Rogers on much of the manuscript.  Jennifer is an accomplished editor as well as the mother of a child on the autism spectrum.

On Wednesday, I’ll post more information about the book, including the table of contents, official endorsements for the book, and a link to purchase the new book.  The resource will retail for $18.99 and be available through the Orange Store at www.WhatisOrange.org.

In the meantime…on Wednesday of this week, we kick off The Orange Conference 2013.  We will have eight (8) one-hour workshops devoted to all things special needs ministry as well as a networking event for special needs ministry leaders.  We have a great lineup of special needs ministry leaders speaking on the track.  We hope to post notes, pictures, and highlights from each of the special needs ministry workshops.  The internet at the convention center is sometimes unreliable and our time is busy, so the posts may be sporadic.  But rest assured we will find a way to bring you in through posts, much like we did in 2012.  (Sorry, the audio of the workshops for the Orange Conference are not available to non-registrants…that’s a longstanding policy of the conference.)   In addition, the conference will be live streaming.  All of the main stage speakers will be interviewed during the live feed.  And on Friday, I’ll be on the live stream sometime around 11:45am to talk about special needs ministry.  (Be warned, the interview times do often change at the last minute.) The live stream will be offering free give-aways to viewers all through the conference.  And on Friday there will be a great give-away from the new book, Leading a Special Needs Ministry.

For more information about Orange Conference Live Stream, check out this post on Orange Leaders.  (And no, there is no cost to view the live stream.  View at your pleasure, for free!)