I was recently asked to write an article for the Christian Ministries Training Association’s Convention that would specifically address the Why? for Special Needs Ministry. This article was published in the magazine that was given to every registered attendee and workshop presenter. I thought I would pass it along.
In Genesis 1:37 we read how God created man in His image, male and
female; He created them. All people have been created in the image of
God – no matter who they are, what they look like, where they live or
what their abilities or struggles are. Therefore, children, teens, and adults
with special needs have all been created in God’s image.
Special Needs Ministry is based on this key understanding that all people are created in the image of God the Father. Not only are all created in His
image, but all people are to be included into the body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:14-26 gives us a mandate for the inclusion of all
people into the body of Christ. Paul was very clear about how everyone has a specific function in God’s Kingdom. When our friends with special needs are not invited to use their gifts or are left out, God’s Kingdom, the body of Christ, is not functioning at its fullest potential.
There must be a place for all people to come, use their gifts and find a
place of belonging to learn and grow in Christ within the local church.
It might be in specialized classes or it might be in a class with typical
peers, depending on the needs of the individual. The important part is
that there is a place and that the church be inclusive.
It is also very important that special needs individuals and their
families be encouraged and supported to be involved in the life of the
local church in the areas they feel called to participate in and desire.
While God has created all people in His Image, he did not create all
people to be exactly the same. God is not a God of cookie cutter
molds. He is a God of creativity, desiring for all to use their individual
differences and gifts to grow His Kingdom here on earth.
I pose this question, Does the church you pastor, lead or worship at include ALL people? Are there ways for those with special needs to use their gifts? Are you actively inviting them to come in and worship? My prayer is that you become an instrument of providing for all people to become a part of God’s Kingdom so that the body functions as Christ intended.
If you are reading this and want to know more about starting special needs ministry in your church or just want some encouragement where you are please message me.
Blessings on your day