Why Special Needs Childrens’ Parents Need to be able to Serve   3 comments

Odd title–I know.  Why would I need to convince anyone the parents of special needs children need one more thing to do?

Another question: why does the average person serve?

There are any number of ways and places to serve.  One of the most common is at one’s church or place of worship.  Often, churches are either in need of people to volunteer or the whole body is structured so that laypeople are essential.  I don’t know of any church that can operate without greeters, ushers, nursery workers and the like.  Most churches routinely ask–nay sometimes beg–their members and regular attenders to step up and serve the body.

So churches need the help.

And, most people want to help.  They want to do something that’s not for themselves.  They want to be part of a movement that’s making a difference in other people’s lives. They want to know they’re serving God and not just staying in their own little selfish worlds.

Even though special needs parents have plenty to do already…they want those things too.

They want to contribute to the wider world, so that their lives include more than doctor appointments, therapies, homework, medication dosing, travel to specialists, cooking and preparing special food, research on their child’s health situation, and the like.

They want to spend time with other people, serving together, for the joy in that and the opportunity to develop friendships.

They want to feel that they are known and valued in their church family.

They desperately need inclusion.  By nature of their family’s differences, they are already sidelined from the mainstream of whatever is going on in the body.

Among the many things churches can do to extend love to special needs families is to make it possible for the parents to volunteer.

I’m not saying that all parents of kids with disabilities must or should be volunteering.  Maybe it’s truly just not the right time.

But what I am saying is remove any obstacles and roadblocks.

Value the contribution the person can make, even if it is not one that is easy to see.  Value the sacrifice the family makes and the other parent (assuming there is one) makes just so the volunteer can play in the band or be a part of the hospitality team.  That parent is already serving his child with a disability, so adding something extra in is a big deal.

Be aware that these parents may not be able to serve in the ways you are asking them to.  They may not be able to commit to two Sundays per month.  You may think that is a reasonable commitment to ask of any person, maybe because the particular job is not that labor intensive.  But what about the work the person does just to get to the church, all the re-shuffling that went on at home to make their service happen?  What if they can only manage to serve once a month?  Or less?  Must they be excluded from serving?

Perhaps if some ministries have regular guidelines for service that the family cannot follow, it would make sense to have other ministries that could accommodate the need for flexible schedules or less frequent service.

Perhaps the leader of a ministry could meet with the parent to brainstorm about how they can contribute while taking into account their other life variables.

Not everyone is not serving just because they’re too busy to bother.  There can be many reasons why people cannot serve as requested.

Here’s one you can help dismantle.

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3 responses to “Why Special Needs Childrens’ Parents Need to be able to Serve

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  1. A two way dialogue, allowing me to share where and when I feel l could serve in the church would be awesome. It would be lovely to have someone come say, “How do you feel you could serve?” rather than arbitrarily assigning me to things that add stress on top of the stress that we are under parenting high needs and special needs children.

  2. Haven’t figured out how to comment on the site. Very thoughtful article – hope Sojourn is not the reason you did this post. Mom

  3. Welcome home Katya, I’m sorry to hear that you have had this experience. I’m hopeful that with awareness, this obstacle can be overcome. Joy Jamison, I do think you have figured out how to comment on the site, since I see your post. Sojourn has a special needs program at our campus with adult buddies for children with special needs, and Sojourn has a mom’s support group as well. They want to be supportive of the kids and families. This post just describes an area that I believe is little thought of, where improvement can be made.

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