Welcoming Children with Special Needs

Imagine a new child coming to your fourth-grade Sunday school class. He has a motorized wheelchair. He cannot speak intelligible words. His eyes, when open, seem to wander aimlessly. But, every once and a while, he seems to focus on a face or a sound. He smiles. Sometimes he lets out an excited “Ha, ha!”

Are you and the children of your class ready to warmly welcome him? Are you prepared to include him, as much as possible, in various classroom activities? Do you see this child as a blessing from the Lord? Do you delight in the opportunity to serve him? Do you look forward to how this child can help you and your class become more like Christ?

I am very thankful for the growing number of churches that are creating a welcoming, loving, well-thought-out, helpful ministry for children with special needs. How is your church doing in this regard? In his article, “Three Ways The Church Can Better Serve Special Needs Families,” Chris Hulshof gives the following general advice:

  1. Create a climate of inclusive hospitality.

…If a family has a child with a cognitive disability, who will be responsible to welcome the family, access the need through parental conversation, and suggest a suitable plan for the service?

…When a church has a plan in place to welcome those with disability, they are demonstrating a generous and inclusive hospitality. It is a hospitality that says, “We have been waiting for you.” As the number of people with a diagnosed disability continues to rise it is essential for churches to thoughtfully consider how hospitable they actually are.

  1. Minister to every member of the family.

…while disability affects one family member it impacts the whole family. There is mother and father who may not have been out on a date for some time because they do not know who to entrust with the care of their child. There may be a sibling whose adolescent apprehensions also include concerns for a brother or sister with a disability…An accessible church will consider how they can address the needs of the family as well as the needs of the disabled individual.

  1. Engage in collaborative ministry as part of missional ministry.

…God has gifted every believer for the work of the ministry within the church. Sadly, those with disabilities can find themselves on the sidelines because no one has taken the time to understand how they are uniquely gifted and can contribute to the body of Christ. This may not be an easy process but it will be a rewarding one. I believe a church that takes seriously the giftedness of their disabled members will experience firsthand the delight of worship without pretense.

(from www.christianitytoday.com)

Getting Practical

If you and your church would like to be more intentional in ministering to children with special needs and their families, here are some additional resources:

Written by Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson is a wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, and author. She has taught Sunday School for over 20 years and writes God-centered curriculum for Truth78.

Leave a Reply:

Gravatar Image