When church leaders talk about mental illness, spiritual evil and demons…

The ExorcismI really didn’t want to go here…

From time to time, I’ll skim the links referenced in Real Clear Religion. This past Tuesday, I came across a link to a featured post at Ministry Matters from Shane Raynor entitled Mental Illness and Spiritual Evil.

In his article, Raynor references statistics describing the proliferation of mental health diagnoses in recent years and common explanations for the phenomena. He then suggests that spiritual causes for the increased prevalence of mental illness may be overlooked…

Let me be clear. I believe mental illness is real. But I also believe that demonic influence, oppression, and in severe cases, possession are real too. Although mental and spiritual issues are two different things, we’d be both naive and foolish not to consider the connection between the two. I’m convinced that, in more cases than we’d like to admit, they feed off each other.

So far, nothing has been said that I’d take significant issue with, although respected theologians debate whether demonic possession continues to this day. But Raynor continues…

The Roman Catholic Church is upping it’s game on this. Many dioceses are training more priests in exorcism and deliverance, and earlier this year, the Vatican legally recognized the International Association of Exorcists, an organization of Roman Catholic Priests who perform exorcisms. The rise of occultism is considered a contributing factor for the increased demand. World famous Vatican exorcist Father Gabriele Amore one of the founders of the IAOE claims to have been involved in treating more than 70,000 cases of demonic possession.

Whether or not you agree with the Roman Catholic theology or methodology, you have to admit that at least Catholics are doing something to deal with an urgent problem of the churchwide level.

What are the Protestant denominations, particularly the mainline churches, on this issue?

The links included in the story clearly undermine the argument Raynor puts forward. Quoting from an article in the Telegraph cited by Raynor…

The church insists that the majority of people who claim to be possessed by the Devil are suffering from a variety of mental health issues, from paranoia to depression. Priests generally advise them to seek medical help.

But in a few cases it is judged that the person really has been taken over by evil, and an exorcism is required.

The need for exorcisms is “rare, very rare” said Fr Vincenzio Taraburelli, a priest in a church that lies just a few hundred yards from the Vatican. “In the cases where a mental illness is apparent, we try to send them to a doctor.”

Another priest interviewed for the article described the requests he receives for exorcisms…

“People come to me thinking that with an exorcism they can resolve all the problems they have in their lives. A child is doing badly at school? With an exorcism, we can make him study. They see exorcists as a last resort. Out of 100 people I receive, there will be one who has need of me as an exorcist.”

Including the time I spent in my general psychiatry residency and child psychiatry fellowship, I’ve been treating kids and families for a little over 28 years. In those 28 years, there was one time that I entertained the possibility of demonic influence…this particular patient was probably the most severely traumatized kid I’d ever cared for, having been removed from parents who were heavily involved with occult practices. To suggest that demonic influence in any way may account for the increased prevalence of mental illness on a website that serves as a resource for thousands of pastors and church leaders has great potential for harm.

More people in the United States seek mental health care from pastors than psychiatrists or primary care physicians.  Nearly a quarter of those who seek help from clergy in a given year are experiencing the most impairing mental disorders. Most of those are never seen by a physician or mental health professional.

The first time I encountered a pastor at a ministry conference who insisted that kids with autism are demon-possessed, I was so startled I had no idea what to say. But kids can…and do get hurt by this thinking. Check out this article from Indianapolis Monthly (starting at Page 94) about an young preacher in training who attempted an exorcism with a teen boy with autism. Or this story of an eight year-old boy with autism in Milwaukee who died during an attempted exorcism.

So…what do we make of the numerous references in Scripture to Jesus and the apostles exorcising demons? Was the phenomena more common during Jesus’ earthly ministry? Did demon possession cease at the end of the Apostolic age or does it still exist to this day?  If so, how would we recognize someone who was possessed? Here’s what Scripture would suggest…

  • They may exhibit extraordinary strength (Matt 8:28, Mark 5:3-4, Luke 8:29)
  • They typically demonstrated knowledge of the presence of Jesus or apostles immediately (Matt 8:29, Mark 5:7, Luke 8:28, Acts 16:17)
  • They might be mute (Matt. 9:32, Luke 11:14)
  • They might experience seizures (Matt. 17:15-18)
  • They may be involved with occult practices (Acts 16:16-18)

Demon possession is not the reason for the increase in the prevalence of mental illness in modern society.

A brief comment on Shane’s comments about the connection between mental and spiritual issues…Are there situations in which sin, or patterns of sinful behavior lead to symptoms of mental illness for the person involved in the pattern of sin? Absolutely. Are there situations in which mental illness negatively impacts the ability of a person to grow in faith? Absolutely. But we have to be EXTREMELY CAREFUL when telling people who approach the church for help that they have a sin problem (after all, we ALL have a sin problem!) when they truly have a mental health problem.

Our ministry seeks to help churches minister to/with families of kids with mental illness, trauma or developmental disabilities. While we provide lots of services to churches, our role is truly to support local congregations in evangelism and outreach to a population we believe is greatly underrepresented in the church. We know that far too many people have been wounded by the church from accusation during episodes of mental illness, and we have a difficult time encouraging those who have been wounded to give church another try. Do we run the risk of misrepresenting God (see Job 42:7) when we leap to the conclusion that sin is the cause of a specific episode of mental illness without a very thorough understanding of that person’s mental and spiritual condition?

Image: The Exorcism, from The Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, by the Limbourg Brothers.

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KM Logo UpdatedKey Ministry has assembled resources to help churches more effectively minister to children and adults with ADHD, anxiety disorders, Asperger’s Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, depression and trauma. Please share our resources with any pastors, church staff, volunteers or families looking to learn more about the influence these conditions can exert upon spiritual development in kids, and what churches can do to help!

Posted in Controversies, Key Ministry, Mental Health | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

I’m not like “those kids”

shutterstock_15545299In the ninth segment in our series…Ten Things I Wish Church Leaders Knew About Families and Mental Illness, we’ll look at why churches don’t need to launch a new “program” connect with and welcome families of kids with mental health concerns… and explore why programs may be counterproductive to effective inclusion.

I just got off the phone with a consultant who works with families to identify residential placements and therapeutic boarding schools for kids with significant emotional, behavioral or learning disorders. The biggest problems for the kid in question we were discussing are social interaction, obsessive thinking and attention/organizational problems. The consultant’s observation (to paraphrase) was on target, and pointed out the challenge we see with many kids who are high-functioning intellectually, but struggle with social or emotional disabilities…

The kid will reject anywhere with the resources to help with the social stuff because they’ll take one look at the place and say “I’m not like THOSE kids.”

This, in a nutshell, is the challenge associated with including families of kids impacted by mental illness or developmental disabilities at church. The kids (and their families) are exquisitely sensitive to perceptions of being “different” from everyone else. This is a key reason why they don’t fit into most “special needs ministry” models and why they’re inclined to avoid “programs” that draw attention to their differences.

One observation…When we’re involved with launching church-based respite ministries, in churches that provide “buddies” to both kids with disabilities AND THEIR TYPICAL SIBLINGS, it’s not uncommon for the majority of kids served to have mental health disabilities as opposed to kids we traditionally think of as having “special needs.”

So…what’s a church to do if they want to be effective in including kids and families impacted by mental illness in the communities they serve? Strategies will differ, but churches looking to break out of the program mentality need to demonstrate…

  • Intentionality about establishing and maintaining relationships with kids and families impacted by mental illness
  • A mindset of seeking to understand the uniqueness of each child’s/family’s situation to include them in those activities deemed most critical to spiritual growth by that church’s leadership.

Here are some examples of how intentionality about relationships might play out…

One large church where our team went to train hypothesized that kids and adults with mental health concerns were likely overrepresented in their population of “irregular attenders.” Parents with ADHD are likely to struggle with time management and follow-through, just as their kids do. One strategy we recommended was to identify volunteers who task would be to call or text message parents who had missed church two or more weeks in a row to express care/concern, invite them back the following week, and see if they could benefit from any help/assistance.

A church might support church members in establishing “Grace Groups” offered through Mental Health Grace Alliance or support groups through NAMI for kids and families and help to promote the availability of those groups in their local communities.

Front Door Screen ShotA church might look at using online worship resources and services as a tool for connecting with families impacted by mental illness and other disabilities in their surrounding communities.

A church might look at event-based or relational respite as strategies for establishing relationships with families impacted by mental illness and other disabilities.

Here’s what a mindset of approaching inclusion as a process as opposed to a program might look like...

It may look like church staff or key volunteers building relationships with parents that offers them the insight to help families connect first with church through ministry environments and experiences in which their kids are most likely to be successful.

The middle schooler with agoraphobia might be more comfortable watching large group worship on their iPad, but do just fine as part of a small group meeting at someone’s house.

The kid with separation anxiety may struggle to go on a mission trip, but thrive in activities where families collectively have the opportunity to serve together.

The kid with ADHD may have a difficult time sitting through a discussion in youth group, but be totally engaged while loading trucks at a food bank or rehabbing houses with peers and adult volunteers.

Even a cursory reading of the Gospels suggests that Jesus in His earthly ministry was very intentional about meeting each person He encountered at their point of deepest need. We weren’t created as “one size fits all” beings. There may be one way to God (through Jesus) but there are lots of ways for the church to help kids and families to come to know and experience Jesus. Taking the time to appreciate the unique gifts, talents and struggles of kids and families impacted by disability, especially those with disabilities that are less obvious and to craft individualized responses to inclusion that take into account those unique differences is more likely to help those families get involved and stay involved at church.

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KM Logo UpdatedKey Ministry has assembled resources to help churches more effectively minister to children and adults with ADHD, anxiety disorders, Asperger’s Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, depression and trauma. Please share our resources with any pastors, church staff, volunteers or families looking to learn more about the influence these conditions can exert upon spiritual development in kids, and what churches can do to help!

 

Posted in Hidden Disabilities, Inclusion, Key Ministry, Mental Health, Strategies | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The top four reasons for attending…or hosting the Front Door Church

j-5aZT6iyhqJD6-jVwHY7dALMP4xaMYZZDPOzyvKDEsIt’s the hottest craze since the microwave oven – the ability to attend church on your computer without even leaving your own home.

Key Ministry saw a need in this area and filled it. There is a huge gap in church attendance for families struggling with someone who has a developmental delay, mental health issue or special need. Why not create an opportunity for people to attend church, and end isolation in Christian community by attending church while also assisting them to find a local church home? Thus was born THE FRONT DOOR CHURCH.

Since the pilot program began, we have received many “atta boys”, but even MORE questions surrounding online church. So, we’re going to answer some of the most frequently asked questions here, while ALSO inviting you to attend, or even consider HOSTING an hour of church online.

  1. I have NO clue what THE FRONT DOOR CHURCH is. ~ Well, then you should check it out for yourself! It’s as simple as clicking on http://go.mediasocial.tv/cbcfrontdoor, signing in through your Facebook account by clicking the “f connect” button on your upper right, watching the service streaming online, and sharing your prayer requests or connecting with others in attendance on the Livewall. Several pastors have commented that they might refer members to The Front Door when they can’t make it to church in person, but they would have to really know more about it. Well, again, attending for yourself is a great way to determine if this would be a great tool for your church members.
  2. shutterstock_24510829What do you DO at The Front Door Online Church? ~ It’s a lot like regular church. Our “host” is much like the greeter or usher at a church building. They welcome you and help you access anything you need to fully participate in the service.  They show you how to locate the embedded online Bible for your use during the sermon. They tell you how you can take notes during The Front Door Church and e-mail them to yourself. They listen to the pastor’s message with you. And they even pray with you on the Livewall, and throughout the week, if you share a request.
  3. What if I get there late or have to leave early? ~ You are welcome ANY time! We understand how complicated life can be. Having the opportunity to connect to a community of faith is a blessing no matter how long you can connect. We’re here for you.
  4. How do you become a host for The Front Door Church? ~ We’re GLAD you asked that, because we definitely NEED more hosts! Here’s the criteria: Do you want to do something you’ve never done before to reach people who have never been reached before with the saving message of Christ? Do you enjoy communicating and connecting with others? Is there a group of people that you could extend an invitation to join you at online church? Do you feel comfortable sharing spontaneous prayer with and for others? Is there a time of day that works best for you where you sense others would join you at online church? Do you have access to a computer and feel capable with Facebook? These simple requirements make you the perfect host!

Hopefully, this gives you a good flavor for what we are doing over at The Front Door Church. We would love for you to be a part of it. If you have any additional questions or would like to move forward with hosting a service, please contact barb@keyministry.org.

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KM Logo UpdatedKey Ministry is pleased to make available our FREE consultation service to pastors, church leaders and ministry volunteers. Got questions about launching a ministry that you can’t answer…here we are! Have a kid you’re struggling to serve? Contact us! Want to kick around a problem with someone who’s “been there and done that?” Click here to submit a request!

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Updated: Families impacted by depression…How can the church help?

shutterstock_145410157This is the eleventh post in our Winter 2013 blog series Understanding Depression in Kids and Teens…A Primer for Pastors, Church Staff and Christian Parents. Today, we’ll offer some specific strategies for churches seeking to serve and welcome kids (and adults) with depression and their families.

How can churches help families impacted by depression to experience the love of Christ? Here are some thoughts…

Give those with depression permission to talk about it. Steve Scroggin, President of Care Net (a network of pastoral counseling centers in North Carolina) made the following observation about depression in a USA Today story on pastoral suicide…

“Clergy do not talk about it because it violates their understanding of their faith,” said Scoggin. “They believe they are not supposed to have those kinds of thoughts.”

Our friend Matthew Stanford from Mental Health Grace Alliance was quoted in the same article…

Stanford, who studies how the Christian community deals with mental illness, said depression in Christian culture carries “a double stigmatization.”

Society still places a stigma on mental illness, but Christians make it worse, he said, by “over-spiritualizing” depression and other disorders — dismissing them as a lack of faith or a sign of weakness.

When church leaders are willing to talk about depression, they send a clear signal that they’ve likely worked through the stigma associated with the condition in the church. Given the statistics suggesting that depression is more common among pastors than in the general population, lots of leaders have firsthand experience with the topic. It also demonstrates to persons in the church with depression that it’s safe to be authentic about their pain and struggles in the context of Christian community.

Consider offering faith-based support groups. Mental Health Grace Alliance has an excellent model for such groups. In our concluding post in this series, I’ll touch on the theme that God may use the pain and suffering associated with depression to draw people into a closer relationship with Him. We have the hope of the world in Jesus. Who better to share with people who struggle with hopelessness!

Provide them with tangible help. As we’ve discussed in previous posts, high quality mental health services that are also affordable are in very short supply. Several churches in our area offer excellent short term counseling…in some instances, the counseling is made available for free. Knowledgeable advocates within the church willing to assist parents and families in accessing mental health care through their health insurance or local agencies provide an invaluable service. Free respite care for parents struggling with depression can be an incredible blessing. Churches prepared to include kids with special emotional, behavioral and healthcare needs will likely serve a disproportionate number of parents suffering from depression…the condition being more common among parents of children suffering from anxiety, depression, ADHD and other disruptive behavior disorders.

Perry NobleI’ll conclude with a link to a remarkable video from Perry Noble…Perry is a very prominent pastor from NewSpring Church in South Carolina who is much in demand on the conference circuit. Two years ago, he preached a sermon on the topic of depression during which he shared from his personal experiences. This is lengthy, but well worth it. Please share with your friends who are impacted by depression…Perry subsequently wrote a book describing his experiences with depression and anxiety, along with a thought-provoking blog post that we discussed here.

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shutterstock_24510829Key Ministry is pleased to make available our FREE consultation service to pastors, church leaders and ministry volunteers. Got questions about launching a ministry that you can’t answer…here we are! Have a kid you’re struggling to serve? Contact us! Want to kick around a problem with someone who’s “been there and done that?” Click here to submit a request!

Posted in Advocacy, Depression, Families, Hidden Disabilities, Key Ministry, Mental Health | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Invitation to Speakers…Inclusion Fusion 2014

IMG_0361It’s time again for us to offer an invite to any member of our larger family in Christ with excellent ideas to contribute to the field of disability ministry to serve as a presenter for Key Ministry’s Inclusion Fusion Disability Ministry Web Summit!

The theme of Inclusion Fusion 2014 is INNOVATION. If you or someone you know is implementing an innovative ministry strategy for serving kids or adults with disabilities, is an excellent communicator and would value a platform to share ideas with other leaders in the special needs/disability ministry communities, here’s an invitation to apply to our faculty for Inclusion Fusion 2014, scheduled for November 12th and 13th.

Emily Colson PromoWe’re looking for cutting-edge presentations from pastors, ministry leaders, volunteers and families called to the field of disability ministry. Our Program Committee encourages presentation of diverse views and ideas and encourages submissions from leaders working in small church environments.

chartApplicants are required to submit completed video presentations, posted to YouTube with the setting listed as “private.” Presentations shall be no longer than 20 minutes in duration (fifteen minutes or less preferred), and offered in either “Ted Talk” or interview formats. You may register by clicking here or by accessing the QR code at right through your device.

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abstract yello youtubeWe’re featuring videos of past Inclusion Fusion presentations on Key Ministry’s new YouTube channel!  Viewers can access EVERY VIDEO from past Inclusion Fusion Web Summits ON DEMAND. The videos from past Web Summits have been viewed over 20,000 times…we hope you’ll find them as helpful as many others have!

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We all want to be chosen…

-6fdcd1d076e57720In the eighth segment in our series…Ten Things I Wish Church Leaders Knew About Families and Mental Illness, we’ll look at why helping people to feel like they’ve been chosen is critical to the success of outreach and inclusion efforts when families have mental health concerns.

Allow me to digress today to draw an analogy for church leaders from recent events in the city Key Ministry calls home.

As some of you may have heard, a certain highly skilled basketball player from Northeast Ohio who “took his talents to South Beach” four years ago decided this past Friday to return to our region to raise his family and play for the Cleveland Cavaliers. His announcement followed by two days the news that our city was selected to host our first major political party convention in eighty years.

-21e9ea6502dfbed5To say that the locals were jubilant is a bit of an understatement. We’ve been through very difficult times here in Northeast Ohio. Our area lost tens of thousands of people in recent years. Thousands lost jobs when one of our major banks was absorbed during the mortgage crisis. The majority of the people live in parts of the region “favored” for winters that are extraordinarily bleak and snowy in comparison to other Midwestern cities. Anyone old enough to drive to the game the last time ANY Cleveland team won a championship in a major sport is now eligible for Medicare.

The real reason for the city-wide celebration…Nobody ever chooses us! But in a 48 hour period, we were chosen to host a Presidential nominating convention and the best basketball player in the world publicly declared his desire to play here and raise his family here.

-99433acf3f097779Kids with significant mental health conditions and their families desperately want to be chosen. Life for them is often punctuated by bitter disappointments…not being chosen for the team during pickup games at recess, not being asked to Homecoming or Prom, not getting into the college of their choice, and with increasing frequency, kids and adults with mental illnesses are confronted by insurance and medical bureaucracies that choose to deny access to the best clinicians and treatments for their conditions.

I’d encourage church leaders to put themselves in the shoes of a parent with mental illness, or the parent of a child with mental illness. I’ve had a number of discussions with someone who was very active in their local church but experienced a series of setbacks that led to their absence from a small group and weekend worship…this person was most discouraged that no one from their church ever reached out to them. No one took time to see why they stopped coming or if they needed someone to pray with them. No one brings casseroles when your teenager is hospitalized in the psychiatric ward.

People who struggle with mental illness (or their caregivers) very much want to be pursued. For someone to recognize that they have value. Isn’t that the mission of the church? Aren’t we the hands and feet of the Savior who pursues the lost sheep? Don’t we serve a God who chose us and is lavish in the grace he extends to us? From Ephesians 1…

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Ephesians 1:3-10 (ESV)

Maybe church leaders could learn something from Northeast Ohio’s “prodigal son” in the way he reached out to our community upon his return?

LeBron_James'_pregame_ritualI feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I’m from. I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get.

Reach out to people who have been marginalized, recognize their value, help them to use their talents for something larger than themselves. That would work. It also looks a lot like the first century church.

Photos from the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Wikimedia Commons

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Inclusion Fusion 2014We hope you, your church and your family will be able to join us on November 12th and 13th for our third Inclusion Fusion Disability Ministry Web Summit! Register now by heading over to our Key TV site and logging in with your Facebook Account.

We have a little surprise for you when you arrive…we’re featuring videos of past Inclusion Fusion presentations on the site AND by clicking on the You Tube icon on the right side of the screen, viewers can access EVERY VIDEO from past Inclusion Fusion Web Summits ON DEMAND. Videos from our past Web Summits have been viewed over 20,000 times…we hope you’ll find them as helpful as many others have!

Posted in Key Ministry, Mental Health | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Save the dates for Inclusion Fusion 2014!

Inclusion Fusion 2014

Inclusion Fusion, Key Ministry’s FREE Disability Ministry Web Summit will be returning on November 12-13, 2014.

Inclusion Fusion WhiteInclusion Fusion is a worldwide web-based conference to resource ministry to families impacted by disabilities. The conference is an opportunity for Christ followers everywhere…pastors, church staff, volunteers, parents and caregivers to come together in cyberspace to share ideas and resources for the purpose of advancing the disability ministry movement.

The capacity for church staff, volunteers and families from across the U.S. and beyond to participate in an event like this increases exponentially when the content is freely available over the Internet. Most churches lack the funds to send their people across the country for a major conference, and most volunteers have competing family and work demands that interfere with their ability to attend such conferences, even when funding is available.

Our Program Committee is in the process of assembling a fabulous lineup of speakers around this year’s theme…INNOVATION. We’re looking for leaders with new ideas for serving families impacted by disability. As has been our tradition in the past, we’ll be issuing an invitation for speakers in the coming weeks…the disability ministry movement is not a “closed club.” Any Christian speaker or leader with excellent ideas and communication skills can be part of Inclusion Fusion.

Among those already committed to appearing at Inclusion Fusion 2014 are…

  • Joe Butler (of Ability Tree)
  • Emily Colson (author of Dancing With Max)
  • Barb Dittrich (SNAPPIN’ Ministries and Key Ministry)
  • Cameron Doolittle (Jill’s House at McLean Bible Church)
  • Pam Harmon (Executive Director of Young Life Capernaum)
  • Amy Kendall (Saddleback Church)
  • Matt Mooney (author, founder of 99 Balloons)
  • Barb Newman (author, speaker, educator from CLC Network)

Attendees who register in advance will receive opportunities to access some of this year’s video presentations in advance of the Web Summit, participate in exclusive live chats with this year’s speakers and schedule private viewing parties for your church or ministry team! 

abstract yello youtubeRegister now by heading over to our Key TV site and logging in with your Facebook Account…we’ll provide other ways to register as the date approaches. We have a little surprise for you when you arrive…we’re featuring videos of past Inclusion Fusion Web Summit presentations on the site AND by clicking on the You Tube icon on the right side of the screen, viewers can access EVERY VIDEO from past Inclusion Fusion Web Summits ON DEMAND. Videos from our past Web Summits have been viewed over 20,000 times…we hope you’ll find them as helpful as many others have!

We hope you, your church and your family will be able to join us this Fall for our third Inclusion Fusion Disability Ministry Web Summit!

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Front Door LogoThe Front Door is a pilot project of Key Ministry to provide church online for families of kids with disabilities who are not currently able to “do church.” We seek to promote relationships between families and local churches for the purpose of working toward families being able to worship in the physical presence of other Christ followers as full participants in a local church. We offer online worship services and fellowship on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Join us this coming week!

 

Posted in Announcements, Inclusion Fusion, Key Ministry, Resources, Training Events | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Missio Dei

Being sentMike Woods is a consultant to churches requesting assistance from Key Ministry in addition to his work as Director of Special Needs Ministry at First Baptist Orlando. Here’s the next installment in Mike’s series on “missional” approaches to special needs ministry…

Missio Dei is a theological term that can be translated as the “mission of God,” or the “sending of God.” Our Father has always been on mission! He’s a “sender.”

  • God sent angels.
  • He sent prophets.
  • He sent the entire nation of Israel to be the light of the nations.

And then, finally, He sent His Son.

In essence, the term “Missio Dei” reflects the central belief that God is a missionary God and that He sends the church into the world to be an agent of His redemptive plan and purpose.

Dr. Francis DuBose, author of the book, the “God Who Sends: A Fresh Quest for Biblical Mission.” writes:

“Of the some sixty references in the Gospel of John concerning “mission,” some forty-four refer to the title of God as “one who sends” and of Christ as “one who is sent.” It cannot be overemphasized how deeply the sending concept relates to Jesus’ identity. Almost every page of John’s Gospel reveals a passage in which Jesus expressed who He is in terms of his sense of being sent, his sense of mission.”

  • Jesus came not to do his will but the will of the Father who sent him (4:34; 5:30; 6:38-40).
  • Jesus came not to speak his words but the words of the Father who sent him (7:16-18; 8:26-29; 12:49; 14:24; 17:8).
  • Jesus came not to do his own work but the work of the Father who sent him (4:34; 5:36; 9:4).
  • Jesus acknowledged that his very life rested with the Father who had sent him (4:34; 6:57).

So, consider this: identifying yourself with Christ simply means that you too are now a “sent” one. Just check out John 20:21 and you’ll see that Jesus said as much:

“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”

missiodeiI think it’s essential that the church keep before it the sending theme of the Gospel of John. It defines who we are and what we are called to do. And you don’t have to travel half-way across the world to do it…you can be “sent” right into your own community.

My question to you is, “How might the way you do special needs ministry beyond the walls of your church be affected by recapturing the sense of being sent?

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shutterstock_24510829Key Ministry is pleased to make available our FREE consultation service to pastors, church leaders and ministry volunteers. Got questions about launching a ministry that you can’t answer…here we are! Have a kid you’re struggling to serve? Contact us! Want to kick around a problem with someone who’s “been there and done that?” Click here to submit a request!

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So there’s this kid…Key Ministry’s FREE consultation service

shutterstock_24510829When Key Ministry’s leadership team met at the end of last summer to “reimagine” how we might serve churches in the future, we were in agreement on two important issues… First, we were unanimous in affirming a future in which our team continues to provide direct service to churches, and second, we were of a single mind in affirming that we will offer churches relationships along with resources.

We aspire to help churches launch comprehensive initiatives to include kids with disabilities and their families into every area of ministry BUT…We also want to come alongside churches of all sizes when they have a child or family they’re called to serve. It’s not at all unusual for for our conversations with church staff and volunteers to begin with the phrase, So there’s this kid…

Key Ministry is pleased to make available our FREE Consultation service to pastors, church leaders and ministry volunteers. Got questions about launching a ministry that you can’t answer…here we are! Have a kid you’re struggling to serve? Contact us! Want to kick around a problem with someone who’s “been there and done that?” You know where to find us!

We’re blessed to have two very experienced teammates recognized throughout the field of disability ministry to answer your questions or help you take the next step!

DinglesShannon Dingle and her husband (Lee) serve as coordinators of the Access Ministry, the Special Needs Ministry of Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC. Shannon has a Master’s degree in Special Education, specializing in learning disabilities and autism, and formerly taught in public schools in Texas and North Carolina. She has served as a speaker at the D6 Family Ministry conference, the Christian Alliance for Orphans conference and Inclusion Fusion.

Shannon and her husband became parents of children with special needs during 2012 and 2013. Two summers ago, they added a precious daughter to their family via special needs adoption; Zoe has lots of spunk, a diagnosis of cerebral palsy and a now-healed heart defect. Later that fall, their son was diagnosed with epilepsy. Last year, the Dingles added a sibling group of three to the family via adoption, one of whom has HIV. As a result of their experiences, Shannon and Lee became more familiar with some of the emotional needs that are common among children from hard places.

Shannon maintains blogs on special needs ministry at The Works of God Displayed, and on her family at Dinglefest.

Mike-Woods-Joy-Prom-@-1024x615Mike Woods currently serves as the Director of the Special Friends Ministry at First Baptist Orlando. Prior to joining First Baptist Orlando, Mike worked for nine years as the autism and inclusion specialist for a large school district in metropolitan St. Louis. He has also worked as a Parent Training Specialist for the nationally known Easter Seals agency… LifeSkills. In addition, Mike is one of the founders of Not Alone, selected best Special Needs blog in 2013 by About.com.

Mike regularly blogs for Key Ministry on topics related to “missional” Special Needs Ministry…how churches can “leave the building” to share the love of Christ with families impacted by disabilities in their local communities.

Mike is a Board Certified Associate Behavior Analyst (BCABA) and senior-level certified Crisis Prevention Instructor. He has conducted workshops for a variety of churches, and   has served as a speaker for several national autism conferences, Inclusion Fusion and state conferences on autism-related topics. He is a Christ-follower, husband, dad, choco-holic, and peanut-butter lover!  He is passionate about faith and special needs.

Mike is happily married to his lovely wife Linda and is the father of three wonderful boys, all three of whom are on the autism spectrum (yes, all three!).

Can we serve you? Feel free to complete this contact information if you’d like help from Mike or Shannon, or send me an e-mail to steve@keyministry.org with details of your request, and our team will get you connected.

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Front Door LogoThe Front Door is a pilot project of Key Ministry to provide church online for families of kids with disabilities who are not currently able to “do church.” We seek to promote relationships between families and local churches for the purpose of working toward families being able to worship in the physical presence of other Christ followers as full participants in a local church. We offer online worship services and fellowship on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Join us this coming week!

 

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Talk back to us!

Front Door CrossWe need you to talk back to us!

Our team at Key Ministry is gearing up for the ministry year ahead and we need your help.

We’re in the process of putting together Inclusion Fusion 2014, adding new churches and cities to our online church platform, developing our online training curriculum, and working on live training. To meet your needs, we’d like to know a little bit about our blog, Twitter and Pinterest followers, Facebook fans and online worshipers.

Please take less than five minutes to fill out this brief, anonymous survey. We’re interested in hearing from families impacted by disability, as well as pastors, ministry leaders and professionals serving kids and adults with disabilities so we might best prioritize new tools and resources in the coming year.

Click on the image below to launch the survey…

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Thanks to those who participated in our training survey earlier in the year…here’s what you told us
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Front Door LogoThe Front Door is a pilot project of Key Ministry to provide church online for families of kids with disabilities who are not currently able to “do church.” We seek to promote relationships between families and local churches for the purpose of working toward families being able to worship in the physical presence of other Christ followers as full participants in a local church. We offer online worship services and fellowship on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Join us this coming week!

 

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