Recently I led a special needs seminar for leaders who each
serve more than 1,000 children per week. As I marveled at the
potential sitting in the room, I knew that only 2 or 3 of the
churches there were reaching out to families affected by
disability. All the ministries shared their stumbling blocks when
it comes to special needs ministry. Here are three questions you
Q: “Parents drop off kids for class without telling us
their child has a special need. Why would they do that?”
A: This happens with children who have
hidden disabilities. Maybe parents have suffered the embarrassment
of explaining their child’s needs repeatedly to strangers who don’t
seem to “get it.” They might be afraid of missing worship or of
being turned away again, which happens more than you might
What to Do: Post signs in your children’s area
and throughout your church highlighting your special needs
ministry. Train your registration team to mention it to guests, and
offer welcome brochures at check-in.
Q: “Volunteers often hesitate to work with children
with special needs. How can we inspire them?”
A: People fear and avoid what they don’t
understand-that’s why families affected by disability feel
isolated. Education is your answer.
What to Do: Train volunteers on specifics of the
child’s special need. Assure them of these things: They only need
to learn about one child’s needs, parents are great teachers,
they’re embarking on a journey that’ll change their lives, and
they’ll touch an entire family for Jesus. Invite volunteers and the
families to your home for a meal. Fellowship breaks down walls and
Q: “When I suspect a child has a disability, how do I
approach the parent?”
A: When parents know you care, they’ll listen.
Even so, be prepared for one of three reactions: They may be
listen, they may be offended and shut you down, or they may change
the subject entirely.
What to Do: Your initial response is prayer and
friendship. In casual conversation away from church, bring up the
specific behavior you noticed and let the parent take it from
there. Do not attempt to diagnose a child-your role is to encourage
the parent to get a physician’s assessment.
Rather than letting questions such as these cause us to stumble,
let’s let them be an opportunity to answer with Jesus’ amazing
Excerpted from Children’s Ministry Magazine. Subscribe today!