10 Ways to Spend Special Needs Ministry Budget $
This past weekend I received an email from a special needs ministry leader asking me how she should spend her remaining ministry budget dollars. I’ve been asked this question before because churches are like schools…you lose what you don’t spend. For those of you green with envy and without a budget for your special needs ministry, perhaps you could develop a ministry wishlist. Post a list of requested items on your the church’s website, Facebook page, or place wishlist fliers at prominent spots on your church campus. If you provide ideas for ways people can contribute, you’ll be surprised how you are blessed. Oftentimes people would rather buy something specific than write a check (or volunteer!)
So if you have some leftover 2012 budget money or you want to create a ministry wishlist, here are my recommended purchases and expenses:
1. Orange Conference + Preconference Ticket = $348 (pricing through 12/6/12)
Here’s why: Your church can benefit from the ideas and guidance we aim to offer through the special needs ministry track at OC13. We will have at least 8 workshops designed for the special needs ministry leader. The preconference and conference breakouts will be nuts-n-bolts and “how to” with a fantastic opportunity to meet seasoned special needs ministry leaders who have already navigated a path for successful inclusion. Few experiences compare with 2 – 3 days of one-on-one time networking with people who have the same calling and passion. For details about OC13 registration, click here. (See disclosure below)*
2. Volunteer Training DVD: “Surviving to Thriving: Successfully Including the Child with Special Needs“
Here’s why: This DVD provides real-life illustrations and solutions that relate to every children’s ministry environment. Rather than developing your own outline and visual aids to help train your volunteers for special needs inclusion, we’ve already done that for you. For more details about this resource and the downloads it provides, see this earlier post. (See disclosure below)*
3. Any or all of the following products:
Here’s why: All of these products can be handy in the special needs ministry environment.
4. Textured Wall
Here’s why: This artwork wall does double duty providing a tactile experience for kids who are sensory seeking.
5. The book, Helping Kids Include Kids with Disabilities (revised, 2012) by Barbara J. Newman
Here’s why: My exact quote on the back cover of the book: “Barb takes complex information and translates it into a practical guide for the church leader unfamiliar with the world of special education and disability. Children’s ministry teachers will appreciate the lesson plans and analogies to help children understand their peers with differences. Church leaders will benefit from countless best practices offered, such as the Parent Interview Guide and suggested word choices throughout the book. This handbook belongs on the shelf of every children’s ministry leader.”
6. The book, Autism and Your Church (revised 2011) by Barbara J. Newman
Here’s why: For a thorough review of this book, see this earlier post
7. Costumes and props available during the Halloween season
Here’s why: For many kids with learning differences the opportunity to reenact a Bible story makes a memorable and meaningful impression. During the Halloween season I typically stock up on inexpensive costumes and props, all of which can be useful for creating drama related to Bible stories: swords, shields & armor, soldier helmets, tunics, capes from a king or queen, Egyptian princess outfit, bow and arrow, royal looking robe, crown, etc. Just this past week I purchased many of the aforementioned items at my local Wal-Mart and Dollar Tree. Also, Toys-R-Us has a new Imaginarium Dress-up line that has several good props and costumes that could be used for Bible characters
8. Hire a photographer to do a “Family Picture Day” for church families impacted by disability
Here’s why: This is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to make a big impact in the family of a child with special needs. Ask any special needs parent and they’ll tell you that they have few or no family portraits. And the end result photos from such an event can also be used as part of your church’s special needs ministry Sunday. For a post talking more about this idea,see this earlier post about Stonebriar Community Church’s Family Picture Day. To see some great family portrait’s from Stonebriar’s special needs photography sessions, see this additional post.
9. Host a fun event for kids & volunteers in your ministry
Here’s why: There is no better way to build a spirit of community among your volunteers than to involve them in an celebration that benefits special needs kids and families. The following posts give great ideas for such an event:
|Ada Bible Church’s Ministry Year Kickoff Event & Fall Festival|
|Shades Mountain Baptist Church’s Easter Egg Hunt|
|Dawson Memorial Baptist Church’s Ministry Celebration Brunch|
10. Hire a graphic designer to create a ministry logo
Here’s why: You can do so much with a logo..add it to your church’s website to grab attention for the special needs ministry, use it as the focal point for a related Facebook page or Twitter account, and the list goes on. To give you an idea, I paid a graphic designer $300 to create the logo for The Inclusive Church Blog.
*In the spirit of full disclosure..My reputation and credibility are more important than my income. To that end, I want to be up front with the blog’s readers. I have a professional relationship with The ReThink Group, which is the organization behind The Orange Conference and the producer of the the “Surviving to Thriving” DVD. Because the content for this blog is developed on my own dime and time and because I have intentionally chosen not solicit donations to support my ministry, these for-hire work opportunities help to cover expenses and provide some income. Also, the two books named above were provided to me at no charge by the publisher but without pressure to publicize. Be sure to follow The Inclusive Church’s Facebook page and Twitter account for more frequent resource recommendations.
~ Amy Fenton Lee
Now it’s your turn! We’d love to hear from other special needs ministry leaders. How would you spend a few remaining budget dollars? What would you put on the special needs ministry wish list?