I spent the past few days in South Carolina with The Special Gathering program director. This is a ministry within the mentally challenged community. Our goal is evangelizing and making disciples of people who are intellectually disabled. During the week, I shadowed her casually observing the weekday activities of that Special Gathering. On Thursday afternoon, we went to a weekly Bible study. This study is mainly attended by the Walterboro SpG leadership team.
I was impressed by several things. First, each person is responsible to get to the study. There were 13 men and women attending. Five of their regular attendees were not present because their staff had taken them on a shopping trip to a larger, neighboring city. Transportation is always an issue for people who are mentally challenged be. Perhaps, part of the success in their attendance is because they live in a small town. However, when week-after-week the leadership team comes, it is an impressive achievement. Accessiblity may be the first ingredient in prodding a growth of a ministry.
Second, the members of the class lead a lot of the discussing. Their input was valuable and valued. This is important and proved that these men and women are growing in the Lord.
Fourth, the class lasted for an hour and the members were attentive and responsive all during that time. Almost everyone will tell you that a class that lasts this long is not wise within our community. However, even after the class was dismissed, the members did not want to leave. They lingered to talk and mingle with each other. A community of believers has been built. No one rushed to leave. The program director and the leadership team have worked hard to develop a belonging that is almost tangible among this group of believers.
Do these techniques sound familiar. Perhaps that is because they are. While other ministries are looking for new and more exciting ways to draw in people, Ferne Brandt, the Walterboro program director is using tried and proven ways to increase the interest and participation of the Special Gathering leadership team.