Special Needs: Managing or Ministering?
We have several boys in the after school program that are diagnosed with specific special needs. One boy has high-functioning autism, and another is in a special education class in his school. And as I’ve said before, a handful have ADHD.
I’m thankful for the leaders I got to work with over the years at Grace Church, who worked diligently to minister to families who have children with special needs. I learned so much from them, not just terminology and information, but I saw them sacrificially serve these families.
In working with these children in our program, I was reminded of a couple of articles written by Amy Fenton Lee, of The Inclusive Church. I got to know her through a mutual friend, and she once came up for a special needs training event that we did. From that meeting, she produced a couple of articles that I still refer back to, to help me get re-oriented to a ministry mindset.
- Special Needs: Managed or Ministered To? The title of this article came from a comment that a friend and fellow parent made, “Parents of children with special needs don’t want to be managed. They want to be ministered to.”
- Special Needs Training for Church Greeters This is a summary of the training event we did, where a staff member interviewed both volunteer leaders and parents who have children with special needs.
These articles reminded me of a couple of things as I interact with families who are a part of the after school program:
- I need to be intentional to reach out to families here who have children with special needs. Yes, I need to manage the needs of the child, but I need to do it out of a desire to lovingly minister to them, not just check off a box.
- I need to be intentional to ensure that all staff and volunteers are equipped to minister to these families.
On the other side, if you have a child with special needs, here is another article that Amy wrote, about how you can help the church (or other ministry organization) prepare for your child’s visit.