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Jesus Met Them There, Can We?

Jesus Met Them There, Can We?

Igniting Special Needs Ministry in Your Church

Vicky Damico

Special Needs Coordinator

Peace Church

Published On:

January 2, 2024

Jesus met people where they were, and so can we.

Heart-hitting statistics:

  • Estimates are that 80 percent to 85 percent of churches don’t have any level of special needs ministry. (1)

  • Only 5 to 10% of the world’s disabled are effectively reached with the gospel, making the disability community one of the largest unreached — some say under-reached — or hidden people groups in the world (2)

  • More than 90% of church-going special needs parents cited the most helpful support to be a “welcoming attitude toward people with disabilities.” Meanwhile, only about 80% of those parents said that a welcoming attitude was present at their church. (3)

The data indicating that 80 to 85 percent of churches lack specialized ministries for individuals with special needs underscores the urgency of establishing targeted outreach programs. To think that millions of families and individuals with special needs do not have access to church programming is simply heartbreaking. A dedicated special needs ministry is crucial as it supports children, adults, and families who often grapple with feelings of isolation and exclusion within a community that should ideally be inclusive. Despite children with special needs attending school alongside their peers and adults engaging in the broader community, churches, with their best intentions, may fall short of meeting these individuals where they are.

To effectively support families with special needs children and individuals with special needs, churches can implement programming and classes geared to our special friends. First, there should be an intake process. A process for church personnel to identify the unique needs of the family or the individual with special needs. From there, training volunteers is a key component to a successful special needs ministry. Church personnel can then match special friends with the appropriate volunteers/mentors.

Creating sensory-friendly spaces, offering respite care for parents, facilitating support groups for shared experiences, and building an inclusive atmosphere are all key components of a successful special needs ministry. Additionally, churches can extend their assistance beyond their physical confines by providing educational resources and guidance on navigating external systems and services.

The potential for churches to demonstrate compassion and support is vast, considering the pressing needs of children, adults, and families undergoing challenges. Acknowledging and understanding these needs is the initial step toward offering meaningful support.







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