Our thanks go out to all
the leaders and volunteers in special needs ministry. It's a very
rewarding job, but it also has some of the most unique and
challenging aspects in all of ministry. I think part of what makes
it so challenging is the fact that "special needs" is such an
all-encompassing label. You have developmental delays, physical
disabilities, emotional trauma, and a wide spectrum of varying
abilities and disorders.
To make the most of any time you have with
children, it's important to team up with parents. Connecting with
moms and dads will let them know that you're taking an active role
in growing their child's faith and you want to be there with them.
Here are Tips on Partnering With Parents in Special Needs Ministry
. These will be especially helpful to share with new families that
come your way.
1. Don't be embarrassed.
Every situation is different. Let parents know that their child is
welcomed just the way he or she is. Encourage them to be open about
their child's needs and abilities. Ask specific questions. Rather
than offending parents, you're likely to provide relief as parents
realize you are willing to listen and work with them to meet their
2. Encourage parents to bring their
child to church early. Plan on coming in before most
people arrive so the child can become familiar with the
3. Encourage BYOS- Bring Your Own
Snack. If your children's ministry is the kind that loves
snacks, make sure you talk with parents. They may want to bring
their own snack to help keep the routine of what the child usually
4. Set realistic
expectations. Let parents know what they can expect based
on what resources are available at your church. Don't be afraid to
be open with parents. Open communication will ensure better
communication down the road and a functional ministry. Setting up
realistic expectations will not only enable a smooth-running
ministry, it will help your ministry provide an effective impact
for kids with a wide range of disabilities.
5. Ask parents available.
Special situations will arise where you will need the parents'
assistance. Let them know that they may be needed to provide
possible solutions to those situations. Some parents may even have
come across many helpful hints with their kids' teachers at school
and elsewhere. Anything that's in place at school to manage the
disability may also be useful in the children's ministry
6. Stay in the loop. Have
parents give leaders a heads up when family situations or other
changes will affect behavior or how their child usually
7. Ask for prayer. Finally,
ask parents to be committed to praying for those involved in the
spiritual development of their child.
When new families with children join your
special needs ministry, make sure to warmly welcome them in and get
as much information as you can to help your team best minister to
their child. The Pocket Guide to Special Needs not only has a
wonderful questionnaire for parents of kids with special needs, it
also provides information and tips for almost any situation your
special needs ministry may face. I highly recommend getting one of
these mini-manuals for each of your volunteers!
What challenges does your special needs
ministry face? We would love to pray for you! Share with us using
the comment section below!