“Youth Disability Ministry” can sound intimidating. Whether it’s due to lack of experience, confidence, or resources, some youth pastors may feel unqualified to be a spiritual leader to youth with disabilities. If you are one of these youth pastors, here are some things we wish you knew about inclusive ministry.
Your Job is Vital.
Studies show that more and more youth are leaving the church every year. In response, an article from Christianity Today suggests teenagers were more likely to stay in church if at least one adult made a personal investment in their spiritual journey. This means a youth pastor who actively engages with inclusive ministry is crucial for a child’s future in the church. And though we can’t cite the research to back us up, we are certain that a youth pastor who shares the love of Christ with teens with disabilities will have an even more lasting impact on youth of all abilities.
You Can Do It!
Really! Although there are great resources that can aid youth pastors, the main ingredient to inclusive ministry is Christ-like love. It’s less about finding the perfect program and more about exemplifying virtues like kindness and gentleness. And remember, these things are already within our grasp, even on the hardest days. For we were not given a “spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Inclusive ministry will not always be easy, but that’s why we are here to help. Consult the child’s family or caretaker as a resource. Learn about their disability, and how you can accommodate their needs. Even better: get to know the child, and discover their unique gifts. Think about the many positive traits each person can bring to your group.
As you continue this journey of ministry, we also encourage you to read this letter of encouragement from Heather Deboer of Friendship Ministries Canada.
For more resources, take a look at our TOGETHER Bible studies.