Skip to content

10 Ways to Spend Special Needs Ministry Budget $

October 8, 2012

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 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:

Sound eliminator head phones Mini trampoline with handle
Circle or Square rug for story time Timers
Musical Instruments CD Player + Favorite CD’s for Church
Popup tent Beanbag chair
Painters tape Fidget Toys & Stress Balls
Parachute + Inflatable balls Tri-Write Crayons
Dot Markers Visual Schedule Hangers
Fisher Price Little People Nativity Rody Toy

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?

  1. I would recommend a wingbo tummy time swing ( or a Tumzee-tummy time positioner. Both of them offer unique benefits of the prone position which help all babies and children with developmental delay.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Good Finds! 2012 Toys-R-Us Differently-Abled Guide & #Kidmin Product Picks « The Inclusive Church
  2. Special Needs Ministry Dollars: 10 Ways to Spend Them | Different Dream

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: