New Friendship Curriculum Expands Inclusiveness

When Friendship Ministries developed its new curriculum, Together, it expanded beyond its usual audience of people with intellectual disabilities to include all adults, regardless of abilities or disabilities.

“For over 30 years, Friendship ministries has shared God’s love with people who have intellectual disabilities in over 1,000 churches internationally,” said Tom Van Wingerden, executive director of Friendship Ministries. Traditional Friendship groups include “friends” and their mentors. “Friendship Ministries has provided churches and organizations a high quality curriculum. Now, 30 years later, it became clear that there was a need for curriculum for adult small groups that included all adults, a new approach that welcomed!”

Van Wingerden continued, “It had been over five years since the curricula had been updated, and groups were asking for updates.” Typical Bible study curriculum expects users to read, write, speak, and understand Scripture. Now, churches are increasingly made up of people who may have struggles in one or more of those areas, including  ESL learners.

By using digital electronic technology online, people with hand-held devices can change the size of the format, the contrast, or adjust the sound. Friendship Ministries’ webpage notes that the new technology makes it easy to welcome adults with a variety of abilities. The material not only allows users to talk of the Jordan River at flood stage, but to see the Jordan River at flood stage. “The multisensory options provide a variety of ways for people to connect with the material.”

Together has a two-track system, one for traditional Friendship groups and a second for adult small groups learning together, said Van Wingerden. Both tracks are designed to meet one of the primary goals of Together: building relationships within the church family

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About the Author

Patricia Vanderploeg is a freelance writer.

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