2. Keep an open mind.
Whatever you know about children with special needs could be challenged with the next child who walks in your door. God is a big God and He creates each of us with our own unique gifts, talents and challenges. The greatest gift of children with special needs in the church is that they keep us relying on God. What helps one child with autism stay focused on the lesson might cause a lot of anxiety in another child with autism. One child might always stay really calm during worship until you decide to turn off the lights and then all of the sudden you have a child running out of the room. Even though you think you know what to expect, you will likely find yourself at a loss for what to do. All of the most established special needs ministries find themselves scratching their heads on a regular basis, and they’ve seen a lot of different kids and disabilities. This is where God does BIG things. Keep an open mind and be ready to see God work in mighty ways.
3. Keep the end goal in mind.
The goal of every ministry is to point the children to a relationship with Christ. This is the same goal for our kids with special needs. We want ALL kids to know Christ and have a personal relationship with Him. While this sounds like a clear statement, oftentimes it’s easy to find ourselves more concerned with behavior in class or the appearance of the class than with the message. It’s hard because we all spend so much time and effort planning out how the class is going to work, pulling together activities and getting the pieces of the curriculum ready that we get really frustrated when one child refuses to come sit in the circle to listen to the message. Sometimes parents have even been called because one child refuses to come out from under the table to join the small group. Let’s challenge the idea that you must come out from under the table to join a small group and hear the message of Christ. Does the Bible have the same message when being read under a table as it does when being read in a perfectly formed circle in the middle of the room? Of course it does. Then why are we so insistent on having a child move out from under the table to hear the message? Why can’t we take the message under the table if we’re keeping our end goal in mind?
Most churches that don’t have a formal special needs ministry are already doing everything they need to welcome kids with special needs. There’s no magic formula or special curriculum needed. Communication, open minds and a goal of a relationship with Christ are all things most churches are already doing for all the families in their ministry, it just takes extra thought to make sure you’re sharing the love that you have for ALL kids translates to the families with children with special needs who will be walking through your doors.
This article originally appeared here.