The Live Blog for LOCAL, A Children’s Ministry Collaborative: Gathering Two

Gathering Two Notes: Matt Guevara on Special Needs

Worship: Upbeat time of worship with the worship pastor from Willow Creek! It’s so true… your love never fails!


  • There is alot more attention and help for children with special needs than there used to be.
  • Parents get alot of feedback from other teachers on their child’s behavior, which is overwhelming for them. They often then go to the doctor to figure things out.
  • $13,000,000 budget for specials education in Matt’s school district in Bartlett.
  • Special needs is an essential topic for kidmin and fammin leaders.

Matt introduces his wife, Noel.

  • Noel began volunteering in specials needs ministry over 30 years ago as a one-on-one partner. She said that she was his sister.
  • No one trained Noel for working with her brother. Many people would ask what’s wrong with him? She would reply, “Nothing, what’s wrong with you?” She often encouraged him to speak for himself
  • As Noel and her brother (Josh) grew older, they found that Josh grew from acceptance in youth ministry and by others and learned about a relationship with Jesus. Even though he didn’t always participate in activities, he was always listening intently.
  • We know that as we teach God’s Word to the least of these, God’s Spirit can use these words to change lives.
  • Josh can be even more faithful in prayer than her whole family.

Things that were difficult for Josh’s parents:

  • Asked for someone in church to just teach Josh and a few others. Eventually, Josh eventually transitioned out.
  • Josh would participate in memory verses and other kidmin activities, but he would have to transition to time with others as well.
  • Josh would be mocked by classmates and realized it, but would choose to forgive them anyways. It was hard on his parents and his sister.
  • Sometimes Josh would “disappear” in class (didn’t do anything).
  • Josh currently goes to a church where there is a baby with down syndrome, and they were able to help.

Josh came up to the front to speak with Noel for an interview.

  • _MG_2132What do you do? Clean bathrooms and other things at church.
  • Favorite team? Chicago Cubs!
  • What do you like doing? Hanging with nieces.
  • Would you like to tell anything else about yourself? You like having down syndrome? Oh yeah!

Noel shares with us:

  • Having a special needs ministry might overwhelm you.
  • When I think about special needs ministry, I think about Josh, and I cant think about life without him and what he means to my family and myself.

Matt shares about the importance of Tween ministry, and introduces a video for the curriculum Entrusted, by Awana.

Lab Two:

Questions for groups:

_MG_1982What stuck out to you about Noel’s story?

Why does this topic matter in your ministry context?

What empowers special needs ministry in your context?

What’s going well?  Where do you want to improve?

What holds special needs ministry from growing or from starting in your church?

What do you need to take a next step towards supporting families facing special needs?

What could your ministry do to help another ministry support families facing special needs?

TalkBack Two:

  • Keep your eyes open to people around you.
  • _MG_2231Be patient and embrace the awkward. It might take awhile to understand what a child (with special needs) is saying. Its awkward. Be patient.
  • Look out for what’s best for the child.
  • Trust the experts in your ministry for advice.
  • Don’t only used the trained people in your church. They often work 60 hours a week and need a break! Make sure to look for other people to help in your special needs ministry as well.
  • Nathaniel’s hope and Joni and friends provide resources for special needs.
  • Bethany Hammer recommended a video during the talkback session about three families with special needs children that were interviewed at her church. These families talk about things they are struggling with. This video is recommended as a great resource to show your pastor when you want to discuss special ministries.raining at Wheaton College on May 4th.
  • Wheaton college has a great special needs ministry called STARS that Scottie Mae recommended that you check out!
  • Inclusive Church is a great blog by Amy Lee Fenton on specials needs ministry.
  • A book from Awana on working with children with special needs is recommended.


Gathering 1 | Gathering 2 | Gathering 3 | Giveaway

  • Thanks for the session notes and additional information links, Steven. I can benefit from these as well.

    • Hey Frank, you’re welcome! One more session coming up!