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
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
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
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?