How Florida Churches Can Make a Difference

According to Florida data, there are 2,393,441 students enrolled in public school and 321,477 individuals receive special education. Click here to see the report.

The number of children/youth with special needs is increasing across our country. Some Florida churches have programs that minister to families of special needs children, youth, and adults. However, more churches need to include this as part of their outreach and ministry. If a family attends your church, will there be inclusive programs for their special needs offspring? Will they want to return and make this their church home? Or, will they drop out and become the unchurched population of your community? You can make that decision.

First Baptist Church Orlando has a program called “Special Friends” for children and adults with special needs. Lindsay Graham, the director of this program works with trained and experienced volunteers who are committed to this ministry. “Our children and adults have a variety of special needs,” said Graham.

“We want our parents to know we will provide a safe, loving environment and we will show the love of Jesus to their children.”

“Adults may live with family or they may reside in a group home,” adds Graham. “Our bus ministry is equipped to pick up those in wheelchairs and transport them to church-related services. Bus tickets are provided for public transportation. We celebrate birthdays and special holidays with our group.”

Dr. David Uth, Senior Pastor at First Baptist Orlando is very supportive of the Special Friends group and searches for ways to make this group an inclusive part of the membership.

Suggestions for Ministry

  • Look for teachers trained in this area in your church
  • Access to the needs (wheelchair, large print materials, sensory rooms, etc.)
  • Have a “buddy” or volunteer assigned to each person
  • Plan a night-out for families while scheduling a program at church for the special needs person
  • Schedule movie night, eating out in a restaurant, day at the park for the entire family

By Carolyn Tomlin, April 16, 2018. Carolyn is the author of 17 books and over 4,000 published magazine articles. She is the co-founder and teacher of the Boot Camp for Christian Writers.