Thursday, August 12, 2010

10 Great Things

More and more churches are discovering that great things happen when they become intentional about welcoming people with special needs and other challenges.

This series describes some of those “great things”, focusing on what happens when churches welcome children with special needs.

#1          Parents Get a Break!

The greatest need for most parents of children with special needs is a break.

Specialized babysitters are not exactly plentiful, even when families can afford them after paying for medical bills, expensive therapies or costly equipment.

But when a child with a severe disability is loved and cared for at his church’s children’s programs, his parents get a physical break.

Welcoming children to church can also give parents a mental break. Every parent of a child with special needs is prepared to advocate for their child everywhere they go – school, hospital, swimming lessons, dancing classes, the neighborhood playground – yes, everywhere. Parents know their child will miss out if they don’t -- and sometimes even when they do.

But when the people in a church become intentional about welcoming children with special needs, the parents of those kids can heave a great sigh of relief...because there's one place where they don’t have to fight on behalf of their child.

Parents also receive an emotional break when a church welcomes their children. They get what every parent secretly wants: to know that someone else loves their child, too.

For married parents, a church’s care for their child can give them a relational break. We all know the divorce statistics: 50% of marriages end that way. But did you know that figure increases to 75% or more when the family includes a child with special needs? Something as simple as giving couples a few minutes’ free time to talk face-to-face or worship together can make the difference between relational survival and marital break-down.
-- Reenie

Next up... Children Hear What We Need to Tell Them


  1. Hey Reenie

    I hear what you’re saying about parents needing a break from advocating for their child with special needs. The challenge though is establishing those relationships with the church. Initially the parents will still be speaking on behalf of their child. How does the church come alongside the family while they cope with the necessary changes?

  2. Great question, Tim! No easy answer, unfortunately. Parents need to initiate the relationship with the church, to some degree. However, as we in the church are "intentional and intelligent" about reaching out, we can make the process a whole lot more rewarding and much less painful than it often is. It seems to me it goes a long way to lighten parents' load when we let them know we care about them, too, as well as about their child, when we have a relational approach, rather than a task-oriented one. Whatever challenges any of us face, it makes an enormous difference to know we're not alone and that someone cares.