When Key Ministry was founded in 2002, our original mission statement read as follows…
To build the body of Christ by empowering churches to minister to families of children with hidden disabilities.
We recognized that there were large numbers of families with kids with significant disabilities (disabilities that would not be visible in a still photograph of the child) that present major barriers to regularly attending worship services and growing in faith through a local church.
- They may be families of kids who experience significant difficulties maintaining self-control or managing emotions as a result of a mental health disorder. Kids with ADHD, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, or autism spectrum disorders.
- They may be families of kids who have been exposed to toxic substances in utero or toxic experiences resulting in difficulty maintaining attachments with parents or caregivers.
- They may be families of kids who struggle with social communication or sensory processing.
These are the kids and families we’ve felt uniquely called to serve.
Where we have been busy, and somewhat successful, is in helping churches serve families of kids with special needs. Our point of entry with many of the churches we serve is that kid—a family in the church with a child who has severe emotional or behavioral issues AND significant intellectual disability. When we’ve been a resource to church staff or volunteers in addressing the needs of kids with more severe disabilities, kids labeled as special needs, we’ve sometimes been able to expand the “playing field” into serving kids with a broader range of disabilities.
Since we were led to this field of ministry, the disability ministry movement has grown by leaps and bounds in its capacity to help kids with special needs to attend church. We use the term special needs, to refer to intellectual or developmental disabilities or medical conditions associated with significant physical or cognitive impairment.
Key Ministry, along with a number of other outstanding churches and ministries, have successful strategies for including kids with special needs at church (buddy ministries, self-contained classrooms) and strategies for family outreach (respite events or relational respite, proms, or other special events). But we’re just scratching the surface! Kids with special needs represent only a small segment of the population of children with significant disabilities interfering with their ability (and the ability of their parents and siblings) to be active participants in the ministries of a local church.
The reality is that most kids and families impacted by disability would never think of themselves as candidates to be served by a special needs ministry. They rarely self-identify as being disabled and will flee from ministry interventions that draw attention to their differences because they desperately want to fit in with everybody else!
As part of our discernment process, our Key Ministry has wrestled with the following proposition …
What need has God uniquely called and positioned us to meet that other ministry organizations haven’t been able to address? We've come to two conclusions:
- We find ourselves uniquely called and positioned to serve churches seeking to become more intentional and effective in ministry with children, teens, and adults impacted by mental illness, trauma, and developmental disabilities and their families.
- We’re also called to help parents of kids with disabilities to become connected with churches where they and their children can worship and grow in faith in community with other Christ-followers.
As we approach 2020 and beyond, our mission is clear…
Key Ministry promotes meaningful connection between churches and families of kids with disabilities for the purpose of making disciples of Jesus Christ.
We’ll continue our work in helping churches minister with families of kids with the most challenging disabilities. We’ll be pioneers in developing ministry models with kids and teens with mental illness (the most common disabilities seen in youth). We’ll share our knowledge not just with churches, but with families. We’ll partner with like-minded ministries in addressing existing needs, while focusing much of our time, talent, and treasure on meeting needs that no other ministry can meet. We’ll continue to be innovators in making use of technology to advance the disability ministry movement.
We’re delighted to have you join us in our ministry adventures!