Through my work here with Key Ministry, I'm in contact with churches across the country who have disability ministries. (If your church does, we'd love to add you to our database!) I've noticed that the churches who have the strongest special-needs ministry programs have at least five qualities in common.
- A pastor with a passion for the ministry. The pastor sees the value in people with disabilities and he leads the church in being welcoming and accommodating.
- Clear communication. This includes the website, the parking lot, the greeters at the door, and everyone families come in contact with when they visit. They know what to expect and know who to ask for when they come to a new church.
- A ministry leader/volunteer with experience. Whether the church is large or small, they all have people in leadership who have experience in special education, health care, as therapy providers, or have family members with disabilities.
- Options for people of all ages. From the toddlers with sensory issues to the older adults who are hard of hearing, accommodations are made for everyone who needs them. Disability ministry doesn't end when church members grow beyond children's ministry.
- Services opportunities for members with disabilities. People with special-needs have spiritual gifts that should be used to build up the church body. The strongest churches have those opportunities and do ministry with people who have disabilities, not just ministry to people with disabilities.