Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Leading A Special Needs Ministry from Amy Fenton Lee

Leading a Special Needs Ministry, A practical Guide to Including Children and Loving Families is a brand new book from an unexpected source. Amy Fenton Lee is a mom. And a CPA. And a PK (pastor's kid). Lee is not a mom of a kid w/ special needs and she's not a professional in the field of all things special needs. Well, not by college degree. She's a professional by experience, from her heart.

Lee has spilled all of her insight and wisdom into Leading a Special Needs Ministry, A Practical Guide to Including Children and Loving Families

At 163 pages priced at $18.99, Leading Special Needs Ministry is packed with insight and background about families with children with special needs. Lee - with help from contributors Dr. Alyssa Barnes and Cara Martens, peeks into our world and gives outsiders insight into how to love and serve families like mine. (Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book to use and review. I was not paid for this review and I am not obligated to give a positive review.)

Fenton addresses the difficult questions and challenges, including (but not limited to) these:
Do you approach a family at church with concerns about their child?
How do we serve a family with a newly diagnosed child?
Do you automatically put a family with a newly diagnosed child on a public prayer list?
What do you say? What do you do?
How do you address safety issues?
How does a church recruit and train volunteers?
What if the child is aggressive?

I am a big fan of addressing the elephant in the room. Amy Fenton Lee identifies the elephants and with the help of some professionals and interviews with parents, she addresses them. She has taken the time to understand both sides, the side of the church staff and the side of the parents, and she has taken the time to educate herself about strategies that are doable in a worship setting, and she shares all.

We did tag-team church attendance for a long time out of necessity. There was not a good place for our kid to go. So, my husband and I took turns staying home with the kid w/ autism while the other took the sibs to Sunday School and church. That scenario is very common all over the country. A lot of us are tag-teamers, never fully included.

I wasted spent several years at a former church trying to get staff and volunteers to do more to include my child. I thought I must be a poor communicator, that there was something I wasn't wording correctly. If I'd had this book, it would have said it all for me. (In retrospect, this church did not have the resources to give to my child. Volunteers were scarce; the many special ed professionals there wanted weekends off; they didn't recognize that I was too overwhelmed and had no energy to try to start a ministry, especially when there were not enough volunteers. That church was not the right place for us.)

The book is so fabulous, so wonderful, I am not sure I can do the book justice in a blog post. Amy Fenton Lee is an angel here on earth advocating for kids like mine. I love love love this book and I have lost count of how many times I've wiped tears away as I've read the pages, so deeply touched by just how much Lee "gets" it and is able to articulate and advocate on behalf of families and kids like mine.

Don't miss the blog posts about the chapters in the book. Here are several:

Leading a Special Needs Ministry Book Study, Week 1

Leading a Special Needs Ministry Book Study, Week 2

Benefits of Providing Special Needs Dedicated Space

Amy Fenton Lee blogs at The Inclusive Church.The Inclusive Church facebook page is here. Lee tweets here. Check out all of the resources for more information. Amy Fenton Lee is a rich wealth of information and tips.

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