I got to know Amy Fenton Lee through her special needs ministry site, The Inclusive Church. I love reading her posts about special needs ministries around the country and what works for them. She has a passion for children with special needs, their families, and the growing number of churches who serve them. Thanks to Amy’s new book, Leading a Special Needs Ministry, I know many more churches will start or strengthen their special needs ministries.
According to the 2005 census, about 1 in 5 U.S. residents has a disability. All churches need to be prepared to reach and serve these families. “It’s the Church’s responsibility to thoughtfully, intentionally, and respectfully engage everyone—because God loves them all,” Amy writes (pg 40). Amy helps churches meet this responsibility.
Amy interviewed hundreds of families and special needs ministry workers. She knows what works and shares her research with readers.
I love that she starts with ministering to families when they receive the diagnosis, whether at birth or as the child grows. When parents go through the trauma of a diagnosis for their children, it is much like a mourning period. Amy interviewed many mothers who were hurt by their churches during that time in their lives. Amy writes, “My desire was for the next wave of mothers to tell stories of comfort, connection, and renewal when they recounted their church experiences. Perhaps the people of the church could provide a spiritual oasis in the midst of an otherwise chaotic life” (pg 3). Amy’s advice tells pastors and church members what to expect and how to act as they walk families through these situations.
Amy also guides readers through the how-tos of a special needs ministry. She writes, “If each reader gains one new idea that makes them a better friend or a better ministry leader to a family of a child with special needs, then the book has achieved its objective” (pg 30).
She goes over training buddies for Sunday school and services, having a calm room, making modifications to curriculum, having sensory-friendly tools, and more. She includes a parent questionnaire for children with additional needs and what the laws say about the reasonable accommodations churches are expected to make. Her suggestions can work for small and large churches.
As I have written about before, our son James (who has autism), started the special needs ministry at our church. Now, the program reaches more families through our buddy program, respite nights, and VBS class. My experience with special needs ministry has grown with our church, and I’m thankful we now have Amy’s wisdom and experience to share with our special needs ministry volunteers. My husband Lee has consulted other churches on starting their special needs ministries and is excited to have this resource to recommend to them.
Here’s more information about ordering this book and a discount code:
Purchase from Orange, The reThink Group
Discount Code: specialneeds15
Code Effective: June 1st – July 30th
Discount: $15.99 purchase price (15% off the retail price of $18.99)
(Lee and I were given a copy of Leading a Special Needs Ministry to assist us in serving special needs families through our church. I found it so helpful, I wanted to share a review with you.)
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