Disability Ministry in a “Simple Church” World

June 21, 2011

Inclusion Strategies

By Stephen Grcevich, MD

I’m going to stir up a little controversy today by disagreeing with many of my friends in the disability ministry community.

Three years ago, I was attending a meeting of disability ministry leaders prior to a major conference hosted at McLean Bible Church. Several participants expressed great frustration at the reluctance of many of the larger, rapidly growing churches to devote staff and volunteer resources to the establishment of identifiable disability ministry programs and to market the availability of their programs on the home pages of their websites or in yellow pages advertising. I’ll admit that our thinking in earlier ministry plans was very similar. We used to measure progress by the reach and scope of church programs resulting from our training or consultation.

I may not be the sharpest crayon in the box when it comes to child psychiatry, but I figured out pretty quick that I needed to understand something of how a family functions and how parents make decisions when convincing them of the benefits of a specific course of treatment. The same is true when working with churches.

Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger authored Simple Church, a book that’s had vast influence on the approach senior pastors, executive pastors and church boards take in establishing ministry priorities and considering new opportunities. By clicking the link above, you can read a sample of the book, but here’s the basic premise: Churches that design a straight-forward and strategic process to facilitate spiritual growth are more likely to grow than churches that offer lots of programs that have the potential to compete for the attention of the people and the resources of the church. In my experience, “Simple Churches” generally demonstrate great passion for reaching people who don’t know Christ and are disconnected from the local church…the same families we at Key Ministry are trying to connect. Seems like we should be able to find common ground.

Key Ministry has made a very strategic decision to emphasize inclusion in the training and consultation we do at churches. While we’re happy to help your church set up a program if your church does programs, our job when we work with churches is to help families of kids with emotional, behavioral or developmental issues participate in the process that church uses to build disciples. If people grow spiritually through great teaching in your weekend worship experiences, our job is to figure out how to help you get parents into those services. If your church emphasizes participation in small groups, it’s our job to help you frame solutions so the families in question get connected and stay connected to a small group. If your church emphasizes service, we need to help you involve families in service opportunities.

We recognize that every church won’t choose to pursue families of kids with hidden disabilities. That’s OK. We will help you figure out how to serve our families in a way that’s aligned with your church culture without a stand-alone “program” if that’s how you do ministry.

In addition to his role with Key Ministry, Dr. Grcevich is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine, Senior Clinical Instructor in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and serves as President of Family Center by the Falls, a multidisciplinary behavioral health group practice located in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Check out his Key Ministry blog, Church4EveryChild.

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About Dr. G

Dr. Stephen Grcevich serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry, a non-profit organization providing free training, consultation, resources and support to help churches serve families of children with disabilities. Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), trained in General Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. He is a faculty member in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a group practice in suburban Cleveland (Family Center by the Falls), and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression. He is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Grcevich was recently recognized by Sharecare as one of the top ten online influencers in children’s mental health. His blog for Key Ministry, www.church4everychild.org was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.

View all posts by Dr. G

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2 Comments on “Disability Ministry in a “Simple Church” World”

  1. Colleen Thompson Says:

    Hey guys, what an amazing, incredible work you are doing. Love the emails, resources, and most importantly, the heart behind every endeavor. Colleen Swindoll-Thompson

    Reply

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