While it seems there are “veterans” of disability ministry, the entire concept of this specific area of service is relatively new. (Perhaps 30-40 years old at best.) This makes it absolutely imperative that those of us serving in this arena share ideas, springboard off of those ideas, and encourage one another’s pursuits. In recent years, there have become enough of us serving to realize that there are even “specialties within the specialty.” What that means is, the mission field is so great that it is virtually impossible to do it all and do it well. Some of us have become gifted in the area of camps and retreats. Others are strong in serving adults with diagnoses. Sunday School access and church inclusion are the particular specialties of others, and so on.
Because there are these sub-specialties and, thankfully, growth of interest in this area of ministry, the need to confer, consult, collaborate and even commiserate has become even greater. To God’s glory, Kelli Anderson a tenacious mother of two children with Asperger’s Syndrome, saw this need and stepped up to the plate, recently forming the Special Needs and Disabilities Ministries Leaders Forum on Facebook. I briefly touched base with Kelli asking if she would share with us a bit about her group:
My goal is to create a networking site where we can share ideas and resources so I would love anything that would encourage people to check it out and benefit from it! The page is only (three) weeks old and came as a result of a band-leader Facebook page that my husband has enjoyed that is now 10,000 strong, where band leaders all over the country communicate and share ideas. Their forum has been so successful because they can network in an environment that isn’t an infomercial; it’s about interaction. It’s practical.
I realized that as a newbie in the special needs ministry world, there didn’t seem to be a place where people could ask their questions or dialogue or offer their advice. I am a journalist and research is what I do so in ministry getting information is what I feel driven to find.
My hope is that people can log onto this site and be able to sharpen one another just as we might at a conference or seminar when we have those opportunities to learn from those who’ve “been there, done that.” God willing, the Church can use this site to more effectively and efficiently grow us in our ability to love one another.
The rules and boundaries are no self-promotion (i.e. using the site as a sales-pitch) and as in any non-denominational community, to season our speech with grace and not use the site as a place to rant or rage about this or that. That first rule is already difficult; there are people who have good resources to offer but I’d prefer they only mention them in response to a legitimate question or post where it might be relevant.
If you want any information about me, feel free to look at my bio on my webpage, www.kellira.com.
If you are a Facebook user and pursuing excellence in serving within the special needs community, I urge you to join the group. You will discover numerous conversations, areas of interest, and even some terminology you may not be familiar with. In a very brief span of time, the forum has grown to over 100 participating leaders. And I, personally, would like to thank Kelli for taking the initiative to unite us in a new way with great potential for growth.