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NOVEMBER 2021
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When Kids with Special Needs
Come to Church


Can I just say very honestly ... Serving kids with special needs makes me uncomfortable; it's out of my wheel house. But it's also in my heart; I want to love them, serve them, and learn how to become more comfortable around them.

Perhaps you too. We can grow together.

This is important for two very big reasons. First of all, about 20% of Americans are classified as having a disability of some sort: ADHD, autism, learning or developmental disability, severe anxiety, etc. And secondly, every one of these individuals is created in the image of God, of great value to God, and loved by God. So we should love and serve them too.

Here's another confession. There's lots of stuff about kids with special needs at church that I don't understand and don't know how to solve. For instance, should we set up a one-on-one buddy system, should we create a self-contained special needs setting, or should we implement some hybrid of the two? How could we ever resource something that would meaningfully serve families who have kids with special needs? How do we keep them safe? How do we measure success? And who do we listen to, because everyone seems to have an opinion?

Unfortunately, I think I have more questions than answers right now. But that doesn't mean we can't move forward or that we can't dialog. Personally, I want to learn and grow. And I hope that we as a church are moving toward greater inclusion of kids with special needs.

Here is what I do know.
 

1. Every child is loved


Our calling as followers of Christ is to love God and love others, and that includes people who are different from us. Kirk Albrecht, our Pastor of Discipleship, writes, "Jesus said this is the single character trait in the lives of his disciples that reveals to the world who we are (John 13:34-35). Everything we seek to do, all human interactions – they must be motivated and empowered by love. Programs do not develop disciples; people grow because of love, grace and acceptance in an environment that is intentional about producing life change – people who look like Jesus."

Love comes first.

Where there is love, we'll figure out the details and all the programming. Where there is love, a relationship can develop. Where there is love, we are positioned to accept and include kids with special needs.
 

2. It's all about Jesus


Kids with special needs have all sorts of social, intellectual, and physical complications. They have real and legitimate needs. But we are not equipped or called to provide therapy, establish a behavior modification program, or initiate medical intervention. Our mission for kids who have special needs is the same as for typically developing kids: we want them to become healthy followers of Jesus Christ.

It may look different. We may need to adjust our methods and approach. But we can do this. We can keep children safe and point them to Jesus.

"A Jesus-focused ministry gives greater weight to connection over correction, recognizing that change and spiritual growth occur in the context of meaningful relationships."  ~ Amy Fenton Lee (Leading a Special Needs Ministry)

Please be praying. And let's talk!
 
Joel Rishel
Pastor of Children & Family Ministries



To learn more ....

Leading a Special Needs Ministry

by Amy Fenton Lee

A Practical Guide to Including Children and Loving Families

Special needs ministry is no longer a niche topic, but at the heart of serving communities well. Families are looking for places where their special needs child will be loved and cared for. This book will equip you meet them and love them right where they are.

Author Amy Fenton Lee offers easily referenced guidance for:
  • Caring for parents beginning the diagnosis process 
  • Vital stats/info regarding special needs
  • Developing programs, polices and procedures
  • Special needs ministry leadership
  • Providing education for volunteers 
  • Sample ministry documents 

Next Gen Prayer - NOV 7

Join us every first Sunday of the month
in the Adult Learning Center from 12:00-12:30
to pray for our next generation.
Check out Joel's sermon here.

Sunday school

9:30 am
for Nursery through 5th grade


Kids should be coming home with an activity sheet that you can use at home to interact with your child. It contains the main point of their Sunday school lesson, and a big picture question that you can ask them.

Junior Church

10:45 am
for Nursery through 5th grade

Lessons in November will explore the question, Who is in control of everything? The answer is that God is in control of everything in heaven and on earth. Nothing is outside of God’s good plan. God’s solution for sin, which he promised in Eden, became clearer when God made a covenant with Abraham. God promised to bring the Rescuer through Abraham’s family. This family was far from perfect and endured greater adversity, but through it all, God remained faithful, revealing that nothing could stop his plan.

2 year olds

(as of Aug 31)

3-4 year olds

(as of Aug 31)

K - 2nd graders

3rd - 5th graders

We continue to get new kids almost every week and often guests of kids who are already coming. This is a great way to build much-needed relationships for your child and to reach more kids with the good news of Jesus. Please continue to invite friends!

Upcoming lesson schedule:
  • Nov 3:  Cubbies (BH6), T&T (2.1)
  • Nov 10: Cubbies (BH7), T&T (2.2)
  • Nov 17: Cubbies (Thanksgiving lesson), T&T (2.3)
  • Nov 24: No Awana (day before Thanksgiving)
  • Dec 1: Cubbies (BH8), T&T (2.3)
Nov 21 - Praise & Thanksgiving Service @ 6pm. No childcare provided
Dec 5 - Children's Choir performing during our 10:45 worship service
Dec 10&11 - Christmas Fest (7-9 pm) live animals, kidzone carnival, family photos
Dec 19 - No 9:30 am Bible hour
Dec 24 - Christmas Eve service @ 5pm, Childcare for ages 0-4 provided
Dec 26 - No 9:30 am Bible hour
Jan 2 - No 9:30 am Bible hour
In the middle of winter,
after the holidays,
when you're looking for something for the kiddos ...
JANUARY 22 (1-4 pm)

An interactive experience with games, puppets, music, storytime, snacks, and a unique focus on Jesus.

Designed just for 4-7 year olds
(as of Jan 31).


FREE

snow date: January 29

Please save empty gallon milk jugs for us.

Don't ask ... it's a big surprise!
Just drop them off at Children's Ministry.

 
We have been collecting shoeboxes to send to children overseas. You can pick up an empty shoebox in our church lobby and pack it up with fun toys, hygiene items, school supplies, and a "wow" toy. Bring it back to the church lobby by November 3.
 
Check out this video to learn how gifts given through Operation Christmas Child extend God's loving invitation to children around the world.

We love spreading the good news of Jesus,
but we don't want to spread germs.


Please remember our policy ... If your child has been sick or had a fever within the past 48 hours, or has a runny nose, or has any wounds that are oozing, please keep them home. And return when healthy!
<< RECOMMENDED RESOURCE >>

Prepare Him Room

by Marty Machowski

It's not too soon to plan for your family's advent experience.

This family devotional celebrating the birth of Jesus will guide your family on an unforgettable journey, exploring some of the most wonderful prophecies in the Bible and how God fulfills them in Jesus Christ. It will lead your children through a study of Old Testament promises, Jesus' birth narratives, and the New Testament explanations of Jesus Christ's person and work over the four weeks leading up to Christmas  From Bible devotions which tell the Christmas story through the eyes of the prophets to an original Christmas short story called Bartimaeus,

Prepare Him Room helps you build family Christmas traditions around Jesus.
 
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