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5 Ways to Serve Your Children with Special Needs


The Church should be the place that children with special needs feel the most welcomed and accepted. Don't you think that if Jesus was walking the world today, He would be spending a ton of time loving those with both physical and mental disabilities?


Here’s the thing. Jesus is walking the world today – through you and me. We are called to love those made in His image and that includes loving children with special needs well.


So, here are five ways you can better serve those children in your ministry.


1. Decide This Matters


Families with special needs children are some of the least likely to even attend

church because so few churches are equipped to serve and support them. Taking

them into the service – and bypassing children’s ministry altogether – can be too

difficult or overwhelming. But putting them into children’s ministry can be just as

difficult and overwhelming if the ministry isn’t prepared to enter into their situation.

Resolve to be a ministry that seeks to love and serve children with special needs. It’s

disconcerting how few churches are at all concerned about this demographic.

Resolve to be different.


2. Set Up a Buddy System


Children with special needs often require a bit more attention. So, set up a buddy

system. Recruit volunteers that are solely dedicated to buddy-ing up with a special

needs child.


Coordinate with the parents of special needs children so that you know when

they’re going to be at church. Do whatever it takes to have a volunteer dedicated to

serving that child. If you don’t have the volunteers to provide a buddy every week,

work with your families. If you can provide a buddy every other week, awesome!

That’s still way better than not serving them at all. Do what you can to serve them

weekly but start where you can and build from there.


3. Keep Them in Mind


As you’re planning and preparing your lessons, think through your special needs

kiddos. Are there any activities that need to be modified so they can participate? Is

there an illustration that needs to be adapted so they can be more involved?


Dedicate a bit of time to considering their needs. Think about how you can include

them.


4. Do Your Homework


You may not have a lot of experience serving children with special needs—I know I

didn’t when I began serving in children’s ministry! But there are a thousand

organizations dedicated to serving children with special needs who would LOVE to

share their wisdom with you. Or better yet, ask the true experts—the parents of the

special needs child. They know more than anyone about their child. Ask your

questions. Share your struggles and uncertainties. Learn from their experience and

implement their guidance.


5. Pray for Their Families


Here’s the thing—as with all the children you serve, you need the grace of God to

best serve your families with special needs children. You just do. Spend time

praying for wisdom and guidance. Spend time praying for the grace of God to be

poured out on your ministry as you seek to serve these beautiful buddies that may

look or act a bit differently than the other children you serve. Spend time praying

that He would provide the volunteers you need to serve them well. Spend time

praying that He’d make a way for you to serve and support their families.


So few churches have anything in the way of a ministry for those with special needs.

That’s why so many families in such a situation don’t bother to go to church – or do

so rarely. But we have an amazing opportunity to love them as Jesus would have us

love them.


We are His representatives – walking the world in His place. If He would be spending time with and serving those with physical and mental challenges, how can we do any less?

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