A blueprint for special needs ministry
You’ve heard the Field of Dreams line, “If you build
it, they will come.”
It’s the truth.
When God called us to build a special needs ministry at our
church, we knew we had to build. We questioned whether we could do
it; we wondered where we’d find resources; and of course we — and
others — wondered if it would flop. Still, we built.
They came, all right — they’re still coming!
It all began when two children with special needs joined our
children’s program at LifeBridge Christian Church in Longmont,
Colorado. We knew we needed to serve these kids and their families.
So what began with a couple of volunteers stepping up to build
relationships with these kids and their families soon grew into,
quite literally, our field of dreams.
Pocket Guide to Special Needs:
Quick Tips to Reach Every Child: Equip your team to identify and
confidently reach out to kids with special needs. This handy pocket
guide contains relevant teaching techniques, age-appropriate ways
to inspire positive peer relationships, tips for partnering with
parents and more!
We initially envisioned a program for children with severe
needs, but our dream quickly expanded. We met families whose
children needed just a little extra assistance, so we began a buddy
program, enabling kids to attend class with their peers. Today our
dream is thriving and people are still coming! We’ve connected with
families we might never have had the opportunity to know. We’ve
learned that all children with special needs have a place in our
ministry — regardless of their situation. And we’ve learned that
disabilities impact entire families, not just a single child.
“If you build it, they will come” — that’s truth. So is Jesus’
message of love and redemption, and it’s a message we want everyone
to hear regardless of circumstances. Our special needs families
are hungry for God’s Word; they’re also hungry for love, care,
rest, and comfort.
Consider the impact a special needs ministry could have in your
My eyes were opened when I first coordinated our special needs
ministry. As these precious children attended our classes, I
learned that many of their families didn’t attend church or special
events because they had no help or supervision for their children.
Some parents said they took turns attending church — one parent
stayed home with the child while the other went to church alone.
But most frequently, families skipped church altogether because it
was too difficult to attend, they couldn’t go as a family, and
their churches weren’t equipped or prepared to welcome them.
According to pastors.com, one obstacle families with special
needs children often face is a lack of acceptance in churches.
About 90 percent of special needs families are unchurched.
Is this the church Jesus would’ve built? Of the miracles Jesus
performed in the Gospels, nearly two-thirds were done to assist
people who had physical needs. The Bible’s very clear that Jesus
ministered to the lame, mute, blind, and sick — the disabled. As
his followers, we’re called to do the same.