Contributor – Sara Bailey, Lead Consultant with Ministry Architects:

When I find a great resource, I love to tell everyone about it. Especially when there is such a great need for it. So let me tell you about a resource that every children’s ministry volunteer needs.

More and more often we hear about the challenges in teaching children with special needs – how to fully include them in Sunday school and meet them where they are at the same time meeting the needs of other children in the class. I’ve found myself at a loss when asked for insights on specific scenarios.

So I did a little homework and found The Children’s Ministry Pocket Guide to Special Needs: Quick Tips to Reach Every Child published by Group. This is a fabulous little resource to give all your volunteers. It’s small (about 5×7) with 15 pages packed with information. It starts with some basic tips for teachers and a few reminders. The one that struck me was “understand that a child with special needs has the same spiritual needs as other children” because I need that reminder daily.

The bulk of this little pamphlet is chock full of valuable information about the different disabilities: developmental, learning and physical. Then it goes into specific disorders. After each one, there’s a bulleted list titled “What You Can Do” with practical and easy ways to welcome every child regardless of their stage in life. This is the best part of the guide because a teacher can pick it up and quickly glance at some concrete ideas of what to do. That’s most helpful when you’re in the middle of a lesson and quickly need a solution. The final pages give some suggestions on how to help the peer to peer relationship develop as well as a brief questionnaire that can be used to solicit information from parents.

I highly encourage you to equip your volunteers with this useful booklet. It’s not expensive and comes in packs of 10. Trust me, it’s worth every penny. The more we know the better we can serve all the children in our congregation.

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Sara BaileySara Bailey has been in youth ministry since 1993 serving Episcopal churches in Greensboro, North Carolina, as well as the Nashville & Philadelphia areas. She is also a youth ministry consultant and speaker in the Diocese of North Carolina. Currently she spends her time working for Ministry Architects, volunteering, and just being a mom.

Sara graduated from Christian Brothers University with a degree in Psychology and Business. She has furthered her education by completing the Education For Ministry program (Seminary at the University of the South at Sewanee), Institute for Professional Youth Ministry Internship, and the Youth Ministry Certificate program at Princeton Theological Seminary.

Sara recently moved to Louisville, KY with her husband Geoff, their daughter, Madison and their two dogs – Kyah and Sadie.