Do you work with children who have special needs? Do you worry that your church is not prepared to work with families who have special needs? Are you a parent of a child with special needs, and wish your church did more to help you? If any of these fit you, I think you will be excited to hear that the Orange Conference will have a special needs track in 2014.
I’ll be honest. Working with students who have special needs is something that worries me a bit — not because I am bothered by the students, but because I want to make sure we are as prepared as much as possible to offer a ministry that is special needs-friendly. The workshops I attended at the 2011 Orange Conference (recaps are here and here) helped me to learn a lot about this area of ministry, but I know there is still more to learn. I’m excited about this new track at OC14, and I hope you are too.
There will be a total of four pre-conference workshops and four regular workshops during OC14. The pre-conference ones will cover “Training Volunteers to be Prepared for Children and Students with Autism,” “Transitioning Participants with Special Needs into Middle School, High School, and Adult Ministry Environments,” “Navigating Behavior Challenges,” and “5 Things Every Special Needs Leader Needs to Know.” The other four will include “Strategies to Engage Every Child,” “Promoting Spiritual Growth Inside the Family Impacted by Disability,” “Leading Teen Volunteers,” and “Special Needs Ministry Top 10.”
One of my favorite ministry conferences is Orange. The first time I attended, in 2010, I was blown away by the information I gained from people who were experienced in family ministry. In fact, this conference helped me buy into the concept of family ministry that I hold to this day — that churches need to partner with the whole family and work on the same things at the same time. If you have not attended an Orange Conference, do yourself a favor, and look into it.