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As I look toward the next 10 years, I see challenges and opportunities. Over the last week, I’ve shared some objectives that I feel children’s ministries should be focused on in order to be effective over the next ten years. You read those posts here:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

I hesitated to use the work “effective” because it sounds so corporate and might imply that any success in ministry is of our own doing when it is clearly the Holy Spirit. What I mean by effective is that stay focused on preaching the Gospel and finding the places in our community and world where the light of the Gospel has yet to shine as brightly as needed.

I know there will be mission fields around the world whose need for the Gospel will rise to URGENT. But I know in the next 10 years and even now there is one area that is right in our backyard that must be noticed. That area is the community of those living with special needs.

For this reason, I believe an effective children’s ministry in the year 2025 will…

Create environments for Children with Special Needs

Think about these facts…

Autism now affects 1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boys.

Autism is one of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in the U.S, and it is estimated that almost 2 million individuals in the U.S. are living with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

In 2014–15, the number of children and youth ages 3–21 receiving special education services was 6.6 million, or 13% of all public school students.

I’m convinced that one of the most unreached people groups in North America is the special needs community. These stats represent people and families who have not felt like they are welcome or belong in the Church.

Churches are behind the culture in the area of providing resources and creating inclusive environments. But that is changing! Churches are listening to the health community and finding ways to engage children with special needs in a way that is both safe and educational. Churches are putting time and resources into ministries that help kids with special needs to engage in worship and learn the Truth of God’s Word. These ministries also provide resources and respite for parents of kids with special needs.

Over the past 2 years, the special needs ministry of our church, Embrace, has grown exponentially! The staff does an amazing job of reaching families who have been disconnected and showing them that every member of their family has a place to worship and belong. Just this week, they will host a parent training and a family picnic—all on top of having an awesome ministry on Sunday. It’s likely that 50-60 families—who were previously unconnected or marginalized—will be a part of those events this week!

As much as these families need the church, the church really needs them. The church needs to see the unconditional love, the joyful spirit, and the sacrificial service that these families show to one another every single day. If your church is not thinking about how you can minister to those with special needs, I can’t implore you enough to start that conversation. It doesn’t have to be huge, but just begin thinking about what might make them feel more welcomed this coming Sunday.

Here are some great resources on Special Needs Ministry:

The Inclusive Church

Joni and Friends

5 Ways to Start a Special Needs Ministry at Your Church

Or you can leave a comment and I will connect you with a leader from our Special Needs Ministry.