Friday, June 08, 2007

Considering Special Needs in Church: An Idea

I found this comment attached to that good post Tim wrote on Wednesday...

Our church has a ministry called Special Friends that my wife and I are a part of. About every 4-6 weeks we have a Respite night where families can drop off their special needs children and their siblings for an evening of games and stories while the parents go off and do what ever they like. Respite is open to the community and is a very effective outreach to the unchurched. Special Friends volunteers are also available to augment the regular child care during the church's worship services. This ministry is such a blessing to the parents of special needs children as well as to us volunteers! It is a very much needed ministry.

Stick that in your file of ideas of how one local church could minister to those families with special needs - both in your church and in your community.


  1. Thanks again Kerux. My wife drives a school bus for physically and mentally disabled children. Most of them are both. She has gotten to know the parents of her riders pretty well and they are all loving parents who are very tired and, being in our comunity, not very well off. This could develop into a ministry with some of them. Thanks again for a good idea.

  2. I agree this is a great idea. In a comment either here or on Tim's blog, someone mentioned that no one had ever volunteered to watch their kid so they could get a break. I understand the frustration, because I have a special needs nephew. But I wanted to speak up for the non-volunteers, not to excuse, but to explain what at least some of us are thinking.

    Kids, even regular every-day kids without special problems, can be scary if you aren't used to spending time with them. And as our societies become more insulated and mobile, there are more and more of us who have never spent enough time around children to feel comfortable handling them. My sister has five children, but lives in another state. It took me till the 4th kid (with regular visits) to get comfortable being left for very long with the kids. After the 5th, I managed a weekend with the 4 older ones so mom and dad and the baby could get away. But by then, I knew the kids, they loved me and vice versa, and they saw me as a legitimate authority figure. (Somehow, I think kids are like dogs, they can smell fear.)

    Of course, when you add in various special needs, whether physical, mental, emotional, or social, the fear of not knowing what to do or how to handle something tends to increase. So one of the reasons people don't volunteer is because they are afraid they won't be able to handle some situation that could come up. One thing that calms this fear somewhat is spending time with the family and watching them care for the child, and helping out, but without being left alone without backup. Kind of like being a mother's helper - and I suspect many would greatly appreciate even this level of help sometimes.