Will Your Church Care for the Special Needs Child?

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of god and knows God.”  I John 4:7

In schools across America, every teacher’s goal is to help each child become the most successful they can be in the classroom.  Sometimes a child has special needs which require them to receive extra help.  These needs are addressed by creating an individual education plan for that child with accommodations and modifications to apply in their classroom environment.  The individual education plan is created and monitored by a team of people which includes teachers, specialists, school administrators and the child’s parents.

My question I now pose to you is: if worldly schools devote extra time and resources to helping children with special needs, then how much more should we as the Church devote to caring for these children?

Many people unfamiliar with special needs children shy away or find it easier to remain ignorant of how to provide extra help.  Yet the Church should be a place where these children receive more love, care, concern and acceptance than anywhere out in the world.  These children could be affected by physical disabilities or have unique learning challenges.  If this child’s school is making strides to help them succeed in the classroom, then shouldn’t we strive to help them learn about the Lord in the best way they can in our churches, too?

If you have a child with special needs in your children’s ministry, then I propose you try these three simple steps. There will be more you can do, but this is a starting point.

1.  Parent Communication

Ask their parent what you can do as their teacher at church to be of help to their child.  Make an effort to understand the child’s needs and brainstorm with the parent how you could help accommodate these needs in your classroom on Sunday mornings.  This can be done through a series of casual conversations when the child is dropped off and picked up.  It could be a simple phone call during the week.  Or the parent may prefer a meeting where they can have adequate time to collaborate with you.

2.  Be Persistent in Caring

Be diligent to try the accommodations agreed upon by you and the parent.  Give the accommodation time even if it may not seem to work at first.  Remember that by trying these adjustments you are showing love and care not only for the child, but for their parent, too.  You may find that over time your lessons will run more smoothly because you are making an effort to give this child the little extra help they need.  You will also feel more competent to teach because you understand what they need from you.

3.  Follow-up

Be sure to communicate regularly with the parent to check how things are going from their perspective and make adjustments accordingly.

An excellent teacher knows and understands his student.  A caring and loving person is concerned with the needs of others.  We as teachers of children in the Church should strive to be excellent teachers who both know and love every child we teach.  Are you caring for every child in the way Christ would care for them?

“The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require.  But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.” 1 Corinthians 12:22-25

Need More Help? For more resources about special needs ministry, visit The Inclusive Church blog. We also have a post on making your existing curriculum special needs friendly.