By Kristin Mueller
As I’ve learned more about the culture of ministry at ECC, I’ve observed that our church has a rich history of welcoming and enfolding families who have children with special needs. I love this about our church! We have a handful of families whose children meet with a one-on-one caregiver on Sunday mornings, we have other families who worship together, and we have teachers who are open to trying new methods to help each and every child in our classrooms thrive and grow in Christ.
As I’ve begun to look at what other churches offer to families who have children with special needs, I had the opportunity to visit the special needs ministry at another church in Indianapolis. While there, I saw that each student in their ministry had a “backpack” – filled with tools to help children have a positive experience in church. A few weeks later, I visited a large museum and noticed a sign for a similar option. The museum had backpacks, filled with tools to help children with special needs have a positive experience at the museum. This definitely seemed like something we could bring to ECC!
As part of Children’s Ministry, this coming Sunday you’ll see sensory backpacks both in the Worship Center and in the Life Center at ECC. Each backpack will be filled with noise-reducing headphones, hand-held manipulatives, weighted lap blankets, and air balance cushion seats. Students who are already a part of our special needs ministry will have a backpack with their individual name and some items customized to their needs.
We value each person who comes to ECC as a part of the body of Christ, and we know that some children may struggle to engage in worship or children’s classes if they are planned with the neuro-typical child in mind. We would never want a family to come to our church and feel that their child wasn’t welcome here. It is our hope that these backpacks become more than worship tools for children in our ministry – we hope that they become a symbol that all children have a place in God’s kingdom.
If you know a family who has a child with special needs, don’t hesitate to invite them to our church. When they visit, help connect them to other families and ministries here at ECC. If you have a heart for special needs ministry, send me an email or give me a call so that I can help connect you to a place where you can serve. If you’re a family who has trusted us to partner with you in discipling your child with special needs, thank you. You have truly made our experience of the body of Christ much richer!