What would it look like if we were to fully include children and adults with special needs into our churches and ministries?
This is a question that has been on my mind since my initial involvement in Special Needs Ministry. Mary, a dear friend and the director of the Special Needs ministry at Spring Hill Baptist Church, has been a huge help informing me about inclusion. Thanks Mary!
Here are some ideas to help you include children with special needs into your ministry:
Sunday School: One option for families is to allow their child to be mainstreamed into a regular classroom with a “shadow” or “buddy.” The “buddies” should be people you trust who are willing to stay with the child to assist in various ways. They may not have experience working with children with special needs; this is a great way to start! A Sunday school class is also a good starting point for most families with a child with special needs.
Another option is to start a self-contained classroom for these children and adults. If you have a couple families with children with special needs it might be helpful to have a class specifically for them. My church offers 2 self-contained classes on Sunday mornings. One is for adults; the other is for children and youth. If this is feasible for your ministry, it is a great option. Some students will do great in a typical classroom setting. Others may benefit from being in a smaller self-contained setting.
Sunday morning service: Get them involved in your service! If there is a kid who loves to sing or play the piano, invite them to share their talent with the congregation as a part of worship. Have them assist in taking up the offering. Steve, a sweet friend of mine, greets people at the front door of my church and also helps to hand out bulletins. How can you get the kids and adults with special needs in your church involved in your Sunday Morning service?
Game Night: Have a game night for the special needs families in your area. It is a great time of fellowship and fun. My church holds a game night for teens and adults. Parents drop their kids off and are able to take a break and catch up on errands or go on a date, two things they do not get to do often. The kids love it and it is a great opportunity for parents. There is always someone with nursing skills on hand in case of seizures or other medical needs. Try to recruit enough volunteers to have a one to one ratio.
VBS: Find a way to involve children with special needs in your Vacation Bible School! This might mean adding an entire class for kids with special needs. You can also choose to have someone “shadow” with these children in mainstream VBS classes.
There are so many more options and things you can do to include children with special needs into your ministry. What are some ideas or programs your church has for children with special needs? Comment and let us know!
Want to know more about Special Needs Kids Ministry? Check out this post on loving with language!