Less Apart, More Together

Less Apart, More Together

Originally published by Young Life Capernaum on May 15, 2018.

By Tom VanWingerden, Friendship Ministries Executive Director

When I joined Friendship Ministries over 3 years ago, I became much more aware of the many wonderful ministries that work toward creating opportunities for inclusion and belonging in our communities. I learned about Young Life Capernaum as one of those exceptional ministries and how it seeks to not only develop fulfilling friendships and build self-esteem, but how it also looks to assist those in transition from Young Life into lifelong relationships with communities of believers in local churches. I immediately recognized the similar goals of YL Capernaum and Friendship Ministries and thought about Friendship’s wonderful new Bible study curriculum called TOGETHER as a potential and effective resource.

So, when Pam Harmon invited me to share some information about Friendship’s new Bible study curriculum, I jumped at the chance.

Here it is:

Traditionally, disability ministry has developed programs like Friendship Groups and YL Capernaum Groups that gather individuals with disabilities independently and apart. This is a good, valuable method, one that works well for many people. But in addition to our traditional programming, what if we offered an additional option taking it a step further?

What if there was less emphasis on apart and more emphasis on together?

A few years ago, we asked ourselves, what if we could develop a Bible study curriculum that would not only work in the traditional large group setting, but also equip a “typical” adult small group to include someone with intellectual disability, or Alzheimer’s, or who is an English language learner? What if we could present Bible passages and discussion questions in such a way that a person doesn’t have to be able to read to participate, and also where people of typical abilities are challenged to grow?  What if we could find a way to encourage tight-knit groups of friends to expand a bit, to include a new friend and reap the mutual blessings that follow?

That’s what TOGETHER is about. The new curriculum provides an innovative online format incorporating a wide range of teaching techniques, including video clips, discussion questions, visual Bible passage presentations, and challenging and interactive exercises. This new approach provides an excellent set of tools to enable faith communities to offer not only the traditional “disability ministry” model, but also a tool that creates opportunities for the full congregation to experience the beauty of sharing God’s word and their lives with people of different abilities.

But don’t just take my word for it, please discover for yourself the versatility and unique applications that this great Bible study affords. I really think you’re going to like it! Take a look at togethersmallgroups.org.

In the meantime, let’s continue to explore together all opportunities that ensure everyone has a place to belong, regardless of what stage of life we are in.


Tom VanWingerden

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