7 Reasons Why Churches Fail Special Needs Kids

One of the things that the kidmin community is lacking is a clear focus on special needs ministry. We have seen lots of traction when it comes to ministering to families, creating environments. One area that that is severely lacking is comprehensive ministry to special needs kids. You go to most churches in America, even megachurches, and there is little available for families with special needs kids. I am not here to point fingers at others, but at Redeemer we are starting down a path to create a world-class ministry to kids with special needs.

The kidmin community needs to have an open and honest conversation about special needs ministry. In my mind there are 7 main reasons why churches don’t engage special needs families.

1. Ignorance. – If you are anything like me, it’s daunting. You don’t know where to start. In this journey, we have found that churches, leaders, and families with special needs kids are ready and willing to help you along the path toward understanding and removing obstacles.

2. Fear – I think fear is connected to ignorance. If we are honest, I think we are afraid of what we don’t know. I know there has been and still is so much I don’t know, so I am afraid. What helps conquer that fear? Seeing the need and seeing God’s heart.

3. Lack of vision – You have to see the need before you can meet it. As a leader, you have to help others see the need before they will move toward the solution.

4. Priories – To have a world-class ministry to families of children with special needs, it needs to be a priority of not just the children’s department but of the whole church. You need to devote time, money and talent towards the ministry in a significant way.

5. Humility – You need to be humble enough to admit you don’t know everything and humble enough to seek help from professionals inside and outside the church.

6. It’s a big job – The amount of work and dedication that goes into special needs ministry is intense, but the payoff is unbelievable.

7. We don’t think an hour will make a difference – Special needs kids need many of the same things typical kids need. They need someone other than their parents speaking life into them, believing in them, and standing up for them.

FIRST STEPS IN STARTING A SPECIAL NEEDS MINISTRY

When it comes to starting a special needs ministry or anything in life that is worth doing, the hardest part is knowing where to start. The first thing that you have to do is deal with the ignorance factor. This is so huge because I believe ignorance is one of the biggest reasons churches don’t have a more comprehensive ministry to families with special needs kids.

How do we overcome ignorance?

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Sam Luce
Sam Luce has been the children’s pastor at Redeemer Church in Utica, New York for the past 14 years. Currently he serves as the Utica campus pastor and the Global family pastor. A prolific blogger and popular children's conference speaker, Sam has worked in children's ministry for over 23 years and is also a contributing editor to K! magazine.