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FAQ’s: Should Parents Lead the Special Needs Ministry?

April 5, 2012

Today’s guest post is the second in a series of 3 posts  from Katie Garvert, Access Ministries Coordinator for Woodmen Valley Chapel in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Over the past six years Katie has helped WVC establish special needs inclusion programming for this multi-site church.  Prior to joining the church staff, Katie was a special education teacher.   For the first post in this series, see FAQ’s: How Can We Train Our Church Leaders to Start a Special Needs Ministry. 

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FAQ #2:  Should parents serve as the coordinator for their church’s special needs ministry?  

 Katie:  That is hard question to answer. God places special callings on each of us.  Who is to say that there is only one way to lead or one type of person to coordinate a special needs ministry?  In our Access ministries at WVC, I have a group of parents that sit on my advisory board.  This board is very informal and meets as needs arise.  Oftentimes we’ll hold a conference call to discuss a specific issue.  Personally and professionally I have benefitted tremendously from the knowledge base and perspective of this advisory board.  These parents keep my eyes focused on serving families affected by disabilities well.  I have also found that our special needs parents want to be engaged and truly enjoy serving inside a church ministry.  The ability of those parents to serve and commit to the ministry is largely dependent on the needs of their own children (how high or low-functioning their child may be).

At WVC, we’ve had the most success enlisting parents’ help in the following areas:

  • Reaching out to new families who have moved into our area
  • Sending birthday cards and encouraging correspondence to families in our ministry
  • Coordinating meals to families in need
  • Participating in brainstorming sessions for ministry activities, such as community service projects for our ministry participants
  • Leading our prayer team

We have found that weekly commitments are sometimes hard for parents and families impacted by disability.  We are intentional in not placing those parents in an area of service that creates more stress for their family.  We recognize that raising a child with special needs can be stressful enough.  Sometimes I feel like part of my role is in protecting our participating families.  I want to make sure our parents are getting fed (spiritually) more than they are serving. ~ Katie Garvert

Stay tuned for the next post where Katie addresses the FAQ of providing supplies for a special needs ministry on a low or non-existent church budget.   


7 Comments
  1. “I want to make sure our parents are getting fed (spiritually) more than they are serving.” I really appreciate this comment.
    We find ourselves in a situation that as parents we need to get things started (besides the fact that we have 2 girls with special needs, my husband is also the senior pastor) However, this is not where I see us long term. I think it is important for parents to be involved in other ministries besides what they do at home as part of their family dynamics.
    Thank you for your thoughts, I have enjoyed reading and learning.

  2. ‘EnjoyHi5Autism’ social networks and disability, autism micro-blogs will share The Inclusive Church on Easter Resurrection Sunday! — http://enjoyhi5autism.blogspot.com ; https://www.facebook.com/EnjoyHi5Autism ; http://www.facebook.com/DisabilityVOICE ; as well as, #EnjoyHi5Autism and #babymiracle2005

  3. I really liked your idea of having a parent advisor board. The parents are such great resources for the special needs ministry but I agree it is important to protect them from serving stress.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. FAQ’s: How Can We Train our Church Leaders to Start a Special Needs Ministry? « The Inclusive Church
  2. FAQ’s: How Can We Supply a Special Needs Ministry on a Low Budget? « The Inclusive Church
  3. Colorado Special Needs Networking Event + Special Night of Worship (OC14 Spotlight: Katie Garvert) | The Inclusive Church
  4. 5 Strategies to Include Teens with Special Needs | The Inclusive Church

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