Shaping Special Hearts
Podcast Episodes

HeartShaper is proud to offer Shaping Special Hearts, a podcast series for anyone who wants to learn more about ministering to families who have children with special needs. Episodes are hosted by either Vangie Rodenbeck or Katie Wetherbee, both specialists in the areas of children’s ministry and special needs.

Vangie, Katie, and their guests address topics such as developing a special needs ministry, helping families who have kids with varied abilities, and reaching out to the church and community in the area of special needs.

To listen to an episode, simply choose a topic from the list below. Click on the title to learn more about the episode!

Programming for Special Needs Ministry

Host: Vangie Rodenbeck

Vangie discusses how to develop an approach that fully considers all parts of the ministry equation: people, programming, and prayer. In this episode, explore inclusion and self-contained models of programming, prioritizing a “strengths” approach to disability ministry, ministering with people who have disabilities, and surrounding your ministry in prayer.

Adapting Curriculum for Special Needs Ministry–Part 1

Host: Vangie Rodenbeck with guest Deborah Dennis

Vangie and Deborah share their ideas on what to consider when evaluating which curriculum to use, and they give tips for adapting activities for kids with special needs. In this episode you’ll get helpful tips and advice—especially if your congregation is just starting a special needs program.

Adapting Curriculum for Special Needs Ministry–Part 2

Host: Vangie Rodenbeck with guest Amy Dolan

Vangie continues the conversation about adapting your current curriculum for children with special needs with guest Amy Dolan.

Amy is founder and lead consultant for Lemon Lime Kids. She shares insights from her ministry experience with Willow Creek Community Church and Willow Creek Association.

Special Needs Ministry in the Church

Host: Vangie Rodenbeck with guest Barb Newman

Vangie talks with Barb Newman, director of Church Services Division for CLC Network. Their discussion includes classroom placement, talking to kids about disabilities, facilities for special needs ministry, and volunteer education and training.

Adaptation for Special Events

Host: Vangie Rodenbeck with guest Katie Wetherbee

Vangie and Katie discuss adapting events at church to be more inclusive of people with disabilities. Learn how to address issues that may prevent those with disabilities from participating in events such as church picnics, Christmas concerts, and mission trips.

Listen to learn how to anticipate needs, communicate with families, and modify activities so that everyone can worship and serve together.

Practical Advice for Training and Working with Volunteers in Special Needs Ministry

Host: Vangie Rodenbeck with guest Harmony Hensley

Vangie and Harmony Hensley unpack strategies for training your volunteers that will empower them to step out in faith and shape a special heart!

Harmony Hensley has a background in vocational ministry, as well as a dual degree in ministry leadership and biblical studies from Cincinnati Christian University.  She has a passion for helping churches to engage families affected by disability.

Ministering to Families in Crisis

Host: Vangie Rodenbeck with guest Jolene Philo

Vangie and Jolene talk about practical strategies churches can employ as they come alongside families in periods of crisis.

Jolene Philo was a teacher for 25 years. She is the author of five books, including: A Different Dream for My Child: Meditations for Parents of Children with Critical or Chronic Illness and Different Dream Parenting: A Practical Guide to Raising a Child with Special Needs. Jolene speaks at regional and national parenting and special needs ministry conferences.

Keeping Peace on Earth at Christmas

Host: Vangie Rodenbeck with guest Katie Wetherbee

Vangie and Katie discuss why the holiday season often brings additional stress to families with special needs. They give practical suggestions for how families can manage the holiday stresses, and they offer ideas for accommodations churches can make to include these families in Advent activities, Nativity pageants, and Christmas parties.

Ministering to the Special Needs Parent

Host: Vangie Rodenbeck with guests Joe and Cindi Ferrini

Vangie spends time with the Ferrinis, who share valuable perspectives as mom and dad of a child with special needs. Listen to the episode to gain insight and hear their wisdom gleaned from an unexpected journey.

The Buddy System

Host: Vangie Rodenbeck with guest Marie Kuck

Vangie and Marie, from Nathaniel’s Hope, discuss the Buddy System. Many churches have found this relational, friendship-based approach vital in supporting children, teens, and adults who have special needs. Hear practical elements of training, as well as success stories about how a buddy can make all the difference!