The Issue: Nationally
One of the most widely overlooked areas of ministry within a church organization is that of the special needs individual. Amy Fenton Lee writes in her book, Leading a Special Needs Ministry, “…that the greatest relational bruising for the parents of a special needs child is the church”.
Nationally, approximately 56.7 million people or roughly 19 percent of the population had a disability in 2010, according to a report by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The Issue: Locally
At North Side, we want to provide that hope!
It is the vision of North Side Baptist Church to reach out to the special needs community and to develop a ministry within the church that is, in fact, all inclusive. Van Houser, Senior Pastor
Levels of Care
As with any type of disability, there are a variety of needs and characteristics that will need to be addressed with each individual. These needs could be physical, emotional, or mental issues that will require special care. Some may require simple guidance while others may be faced with more complex issues such as incontinency, seizures, feeding tubes, and other medical issues. An application and screening process will be implemented to ensure that our volunteers know and understand the unique needs of the individual. We will then carry out this mission in a variety of different ways including a shadow/buddy program, individualized care, and group settings.
We have identified medical personnel within our congregation who are willing to help facilitate the care of those who are deemed more medically fragile. While we will not serve as the individual’s primary caregiver, we will be instrumental in ensuring that the individual knows that they are loved and accepted.
Some of the issues in working with special needs individuals include but are not limited to:
However, our job is to live out the love of Christ to these families through the special needs family member. By doing this, what you will find is:
North Side will be offering training to all of the ministry team. The training will be in areas such as:
The training will be held on a quarterly basis and will be conducted by experts in the field of special needs behaviors, ministry, and socialization. These training sessions will equip the volunteer to best serve in this area of ministry.
There are two primary needs of the person with special needs:
So what is the plan? We intend to launch a purpose driven, staged ministry approach to the special needs community in our area. We will begin by launching the following programs initially and as the ministry grows, add additional services and outreaches.
There are many opportunities to bring the needed socialization and teach life skills to the individual. These skills will be viable for integration into the job market, caring for basic needs, and moving toward independent living.
Given the nature and personality of special needs individuals, consistency and familiarity plays an important role in their overall wellbeing. We will strive to be as versatile as possible with individual assignments, however, there will be some attendees who become “attached” to a particular volunteer. This may require us to assign that volunteer to the individual as much as possible. Also, given the nature of the need, the individual may not attend on a regular basis which enhances the need for that familiar face. In such incidents, you may be called upon to team up with the individual as the need arises.
We will ask that the families and caregivers notify us as much in advance as possible if they will be attending church or in some cases, will not be attending church. Likewise, since the schedules of the volunteers will be set several weeks in advance, we ask that you be as consistent as possible and notify us in the event of your absence on your assigned days. This will allow us plenty of opportunity to find a replacement.
Remember, bottom line, commitment and consistency is crucial!