If you’re a special needs family, we welcome you to Woodridge! Your family, your experiences, and your unique situation brings so much to the church as a whole. As a special needs mom, I didn’t always feel that. I’ve only been the Special Needs Ministry Director for Woodridge for a short time, but I have been a special needs mom for 10 years. My son has autism-the type of autism that sometimes makes our family feel like it is easier to stay away from crowds. He is certainly a blessing to us but being out in public and being disruptive has always been a challenge. We know that as a special needs family, it’s tempting to back down from joining a group or serving in a church because of limitations that the disability can pose, the fear of rejection, or because we’re just plain tired.
Attending church or other public outings often makes our family feel like my son’s disability is amplified. Sometimes he makes loud odd noises and his silly movements are really noticeable. In the middle of a sermon, it’s not unusual to see my son’s feet in my husband’s face or for him to jump up in an instant to stand on his chair. His sniffling and humming make us sometimes worry that he will distract others from worshipping.
What we’ve seen, though, is that people are happy that we are attending church, regardless of the occasional distractions. If he isn’t extremely loud, we can stay in service, and people smile watching him bob up and down while singing. It brings us joy when people save our seats or are excited to see Jacob and his service dog. We used to believe people may not want us around, instead of allowing people to be the church for us. We thought that our family couldn’t contribute to our church as significantly or meaningfully as other families due to our limitations. We have since learned that God has called us not only to a different type of parenting, but also a different type of serving. Even though we cannot do everything that other families can, it is valuable to have many different members in the church that all serve in unique ways. While the world may not value individuals with special needs, the church has proven to be very different. God created everyone in His image and that includes our loved ones with special needs.
We want you to know that your family is a crucial part of the church. God desires for ALL his creation to find hope in Christ and a place in the body of Christ. It is good for our church to know and love people that have needs that are unique from others. This will allow the church to grow in holiness as it better understands how to help, pray for, and love on individuals with special needs and their families.
The compassion and understanding that people can learn through interacting and serving with individuals with special needs and their families is just the beginning of how you can bless the church. We know that the Gospel of Jesus is for all and we want our church to represent ALL. That, of course, includes individuals with special needs. If you are hesitant to join us, I encourage you to reach out and know that you are welcome here!
Special Needs Ministry Director
Have questions or want to volunteer to serve in our Special Needs Ministry? Click below to contact Allison Hill.