As we journeyed through different challenges with our son Joey, one of the dearest things was knowing that others were praying for us. When someone told us they were praying for us, it made our day. Just to know another person or a family had our back in prayer meant the world to us.
The church in this story has no official disability ministry, no “program.” They try very hard to organically meet the needs of individual families who worship there. This is a church-in-progress. It’s a church family becoming an increasing reflection of Christ; God is growing fruit. They realize there is a lot they don’t know or understand. And they’re excited to learn and grow as a community.
In order to communicate with care and compassion, ministry leaders need to understand the five phases of special-needs parenting. In the video below, I give an overview of the phases, share what families need from their church in each phase, and give communication tips that are effective no matter what phase parents are in.
We need to learn what works for our family, and it’s not always us who can take the reins to start a ministry when our plates are so full with the needs before us. Thus, when a church has a ministry to special needs, the thinking and the work has been taken off our plate. We can embrace the opportunities before us, which lightens our load and helps us in this journey.
Janet Parshall issued a powerful call to the church to minister more effectively to persons with mental illness in this keynote presentation from Inclusion Fusion Live 2019, a national disability ministry conference hosted by Key Ministry. She identifies key biblical figures who experienced symptoms of mental illness, challenges church leaders to end their stigmatization of persons with mental health issues and pastors to begin addressing the topic in the course of their preaching.