6 Ways To Start A Special Needs Ministry On A Budget
By: Vanderbloemen June 24, 2014
A few months ago I wrote a blog called the 5 Ways To Start A Special Needs Ministry at your church.
Now, I want to go a little bit deeper and talk about something most people dislike talking about: money.
No matter the size of your church, there is always a budget and other ministry areas that money has been budgeted toward. So thinking about adding another ministry, as exciting and as needed as it may be, can also be stressful.
You may be thinking “We need a Special Needs Ministry, but does that mean that we are going to have to buy everything custom made?” I can tell you from first-hand experience: YES, you need a Special Needs Ministry, and NO you do not have to buy everything customized.
When I was asked to start the Special Needs Ministry at my former church, I was given a room in our new building, but had no budget; so it is possible to have a Special Needs Ministry on a tight budget. The most important thing you can do is just start somewhere and build from there.
Here are some six key things to keep in mind as you begin your Special Needs Ministry on a budget:
1. God Provides – This is the most important thing to remember. It’s something we all know but have to daily remind ourselves of. It’s His kingdom and His ministry, and He gives us the privilege to serve His people. So He is going to provide.
2. Volunteers, Volunteers, Volunteers – Did I mention how important volunteers are? They are one of the key components to the ministry. Do whatever you can to recruit volunteers before you start because they will help be the backbone of the ministry.
3. Curriculum – If you already have a curriculum that your church Nursery and Children’s ministry are using, you can use those too. You may need to modify it to work in the Special Needs classroom, but you don’t have to buy an expensive curriculum if you don’t have the money for it at this time. I used Lil K curriculum, but when I first started the classroom we used a Bible on DVD and then created crafts to go along with the Bible story.
4. Supplies – You do not have to order everything customized. I found most of the toys, teaching supplies, etc. needed for my classroom at places like Amazon, Target, and Wal-Mart. I started with buying simple things like puzzles, books, balls, beanbags, crayons, and markers, and printed coloring sheets. Once we had kids in our ministry, I got to know them, found out the things they liked, and bought those.
5. Make Connections With Therapy Clinics In Your Area – Before you start your Special Needs Ministry, go talk to the experts. Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Pathologists, etc.: these are the people that have studied many years to work with individuals with special needs. They can give you ideas, and even help train your volunteers. Look within your church; there may be a few therapists there that you could ask. If not, find a clinic in your community and call.
6. Utilize The Parent – When I was a Special Needs Coordinator, some of my best resources were the parents of the kids with whom I worked. Ask a few of them to coffee and pick their brain. Not only can they help you come up with ideas for the ministry, but also spending time with them will help you to better understand their family. Another bonus to connecting with parents is that it allows them to give back and feel included in the ministry without actually having to be a volunteer in the classroom.
No matter what the budget is for the Special Needs Ministry at your church, I assure you that once you start this ministry you and your church will never be the same. These incredible families will make a life-long impact on your life and your church.