In this episode, I talk with Ellen Stumbo about how to best serve families with individuals who have disabilities. Ellen shares her experience working with churches and her family’s own personal story. We then have a great conversation about key principles surrounding disability ministry, practical ways to put a disability framework in places, and specific ideas that you can apply to better serve the families at your church.

Ellen Stumbo

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Links Mentioned in This Episode – An organization that is all about advancing disability ministry and changing the church and communities around the world by providing resources, training, and other helpful tools

Beyond Suffering (class) – A course offered by Joni and Friends that helps prepare leaders in ministry, education, medicine, and science to become involved in disability ministry – An organization dedicated to promoting meaningful connection between churches and families of kids with disabilities for the purpose of making disciples of Jesus

Group KidMin Conference – A conference for children's ministry leaders, happening this fall. Amber will be teaching several breakouts on this topic there.

The Five Stages of Disability Attitudes

  1. Ignorance–When you do not recognize that there are a lot of people with disabilities, and you are not aware of the need
  2. Pity–When you look at people with disabilities and view their circumstances as tragic, thinking, “Wow, that must be so hard. I'm so glad my kid doesn't have a disability”
  3. Care–When you look at people with disabilities and think “I can do something about it”
  4. Friendship–When you pursue relationships with people who have disabilities, recognizing that each person has something to give and each person has something to take away
  5. Co-laboring–When you recognize that people with disabilities are co-laborers in the kingdom and invaluable members of the body of Christ

Approaches to Disability Ministry

  1. Develop a buddy system
  2. Create a sensory room (Consider including low lights, a lycra or platform swing, fiber optics, squishy toys, a rocking chair, a rocking board, a crash pad, different textures. fidget toys, little cushions filled with air, and a tent in the corner)
  3. Build a small group model where each group adopts a family with disabilities

Action Items

  1. Determine what stage your church is at in the five stages of disability attitudes
  2. Decide one step you can take to move to the next level as a church, when it comes to serving families with disabilities
  3. Begin with a family and a relationship

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Next Episode: Amber Baker

In the next episode, I talk with Amber Baker about the Real Colors Personality Test. Amber shares how she uses it with her team, and how they have leveraged that tool to help develop their children's ministry. We also have a great conversation about women in ministry, and some of the barriers she has worked through in her role.