Last week, we talked about the most important step for starting an inclusion ministry: PRAYER. We also discussed the importance of assessing a church’s culture prior to beginning a new program. This allows volunteers, staff, and families to find a common starting point and identify how to launch the ministry successfully.
Once this is done, we recommend that people determine the model of ministry that will best fit the church’s culture and the needs of the community. Of course, no two ministries will be exactly alike (because no two churches are exactly alike!) However, we have identified three main models for launching an inclusion ministry:
- The Program Approach…This approach begins with an individual or small group who feels led to start a program. The senior pastor, children’s pastor or elder board approves the idea and then a committee forms to plan strategies, formulate processes, market the ministry and recruit volunteers.
- The Outreach Approach…This method focuses first on outreach events such as respite nights, game nights for kids with special needs, Prom outreaches, etc. As with the “Program” Approach, much planning and strategizing must take place to execute an event. In addition, a follow-up team should be identified to allow for relationships to form with event guest; this ultimately helps those guests and their families become connected with the church
- The One Kid Approach…In this scenario, a volunteer or pastor is aware of at least one child or family who needs extra support due to a disability. The ministry starts with “one kid” as staff and volunteers learn the best ways to support and help this family. From there, the program grows (often speedily!) as word reaches the community that the church is willing and able to support children with a variety of needs.
What approach has worked for you and your church? Leave a comment here, so that others can learn from your experiences! Need help determining your next step? Email me at email@example.com or write a comment. Remember, we’re all part of the Church (with a CAPITAL C!); it makes good sense to help each other and share ideas.
Step by step!
We started with the “one kid” model and stayed there for a long time (long enough that it was a few kids and not just one, but I don’t think we really wanted to grow then and only focused on inreach, supporting those already in our congregation). Then we kicked off outreach with our first prom for teens and adults ten years ago, and a program for adults and teens followed that within a few months (not planned until after the prom when it struck the first Joy prom’s coordinator that we had done a good thing for one night but were ignoring needs the other 364 days a year). And then it was only a little over a year ago that we kicked off a real program for kids, with our first respite this October. So we’ve kind of been a combination of all three!
I’m going to link to this post tomorrow and ask people to comment because I love to hear how other churches get started. It’s such a church-specific thing, and I’ve loved how true to that you’ve been in this post and the other related ones. What worked for us isn’t what works for everyone, and it all depends on what’s already in place at your church.
Shannon dear…I love the term “INREACH” that you have used here…awesome! Thanks for linking this to your blog…I’m hoping we can get lots of ideas flowing. Sometimes, hearing how other folks got started makes the whole process less overwhelming! You are wonderful.
Just beginning our ministry using the one individual and outreach approaches. We are really just getting organized. Our denomination is small and more relationship (vs. program) oriented so this seemed a reasonable way to start.
I’m excited to see how this new ministry grows!