Toolbox Sessions Challenge Churches To Embrace All Jesus Followers

Toolbox Disability Session

Participants in the "Making Room at the Table" toolbox session share ideas and examples from their own areas of ministry.

Sessions on disability and youth ministries offer fresh ideas, best practices 

At the North Texas Annual Conference meeting June 2-4, participants at Monday afternoon toolbox sessions explored new ways to make their churches and ministries more accessible to groups whose needs are not always at the forefront.  

In “Making Room at the Table,” attendees learned about disability theology and discussed measures like captioning worship services, overcoming “audism” and taking a “rolling tour” of facilities to discover what adjustments would make a campus more accessible. At the heart of the discussion, though, was a call to move from mere accessibility to a mindset of what can be gained when we empower full participation from our full communities. 

Session leaders, including Rev. Justin Hancock, Rev. Tom Hudspeth and Rev. Ramsey Patton-Jay, challenged participants to consider what accessibility could look like in their own churches and ministries. They noted that accessibility doesn’t have to be something big, but should be something every church is thinking about in their work. 

Toolbox Session on Youth Ministries

Joseph Bradley and Christy Allen, along with Rev. David Finley, lead the "Empowering Youth Leadership in the Local Church" toolbox session.

In “Empowering Youth Leadership in the Local Church” toolbox session co-host Christy Allen, director of children and youth ministries at Ridgewood Park UMC, and Rev. David Finley, associate pastor with youth and families at First UMC Denton, shared what they have seen work in the local church setting. Their best practices included asking youth what they want to do, letting youth host congregational events and putting youth on committees and explaining the responsibility well. 

Session co-host Joseph Bradley, the associate director of children, youth and camping ministries for the North Texas Conference, shared his three-step philosophy for how to make successful youth leaders. 

Said Bradley: “Recognition, opportunity, affirmation. Rinse. Repeat. Be intentional about real leadership opportunities. How are they helping young people? How are they showing the adults that young people are capable? Is it messy sometimes? You better believe it's messy sometimes! But you see the growth from year to year.” 

Published: Wednesday, June 26, 2024