One Small Step

February 19, 2013

Belonging, Building Relationships

SmallStepFinding more people to serve in a special needs ministry is an on-going endeavor. If you serve in special needs ministry and you’re reading this I’m sure your response to my very enlightening opening statement is: “duh!”

I wanted to share a new idea that I’m implementing in order to create opportunities for more people to say “yes” to serving in our Special Friends ministry here at First Baptist Orlando. It’s simple and so far has been effective. And it’s based on the idea that there are many members in our church that would consider it a very large step to go from sitting in the sanctuary to being a “Friend,” “Buddy,” “shadow,” or whatever you prefer to call the one-on-one adult who stays close to a child with special needs throughout the Sunday School timeframe.

So, I’ve decided to create a series of smaller steps that someone could take to make the journey from sitting in the sanctuary to becoming a Friend or Buddy (the terms we use here at FBO). For some of you this idea is not new. Perhaps you’ve been doing it for a while. However, as I talk with other people who are involved in special needs ministry I’m discovering that the ideas/strategies/concepts that I assume everyone else know (to include me) isn’t always the case. Thus the reason I’m sharing my not-so-new-to some-of-you idea for recruiting more volunteers into a special needs ministry.

The first step in creating smaller steps to serving in our Special Friends ministry was to grab a pad of paper, a pencil, and begin to develop a vision of all the ways people COULD serve in our ministry. The first two that I wrote down and then crossed out were: Friend and Buddy. Why? Because I needed to force myself to think outside of the box in creating ministry opportunities that did not already exist.

The second step in creating smaller steps to serving was to write down every potential idea that came to mind. In our Special Friends ministry we are involved in providing transportation, fixing meals, visitation, writing letters of encouragement, blogging, generating curriculum, creating serving opportunities for our teen/adult Life Groups, to name a few. I started writing down all of the smaller serving opportunities that existed within our ministry that had nothing to do with one-on-one volunteering.

The third step in creating smaller steps to serving was to start creating job descriptions for all of these possible serving opportunities. The job descriptions detailed the qualifications, responsibilities, frequency of serving, the duration of the commitment, location, serving time, etc. I wrote down everything I could think of that someone might ask and tried to answer it in advance.

The fourth step in creating smaller steps to serving was to get the word out about these new opportunities. Bulletin announcement, take-one’s, eblasts, Sunday School announcements, posters, our church website, word of mouth, and any other lines of established communication at First Baptist Orlando.

Here’s an example of one new serving opportunity that now exist due to this simple four step process:

Prayer Partner

LifeGroup: Special Friends

Location: Home

Duration: 12 months

Frequency: 1 time per week

Primary Task:

To share in the triumphs and burdens of adults with special needs or parents of children with special needs through the ministry of prayer.


 Get in touch with the adult with special needs or parent of a child with special needs through email and/or telephone call.

 Pray for the specific needs shared by the adult with special needs or parents of a child with special needs.

 Work as a team with other members of the Special Friends Ministry.

 Be ready to be blessed!


 Spiritual Gifts: Prayer, Service, Shepherding.

 Best Personal Traits: Kindhearted, Compassionate, Dependable.

 Background check.

 A heart for those with special needs.

 Teachable. Ready to learn the unique needs of adults with special needs or parents of children with special needs.

 Patient.

 Able to see beyond the disability.

 Display integrity, sensitivity and confidentiality.

I cannot begin to tell you how excited some of our parents and our adults are that they have a prayer warrior from our congregation who has committed to partnering with them in prayer. In the 30-days that Pray Partner has been a new serving opportunity I have 6 new volunteers who are not serving those with special needs.

Michael Woods

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About Michael Woods

Christ-follower, husband, chocoholic, and peanut-butter lover! I'm a father to triplet boys...each on the autism spectrum.

View all posts by Michael Woods


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4 Comments on “One Small Step”

  1. drgrcevich Says:


    This is very good. I’m interested in seeing the other job descriptions you created.


  2. Betsy Hill, "Mother Of Earl" Says:

    Thanks for sharing your great ideas and organizational skills. I have been serving on the special needs ministry (“Friends”) board at Trinity United Methodis Church for over a year. Our greatest single need is for committed and reliable volunteers. Your suggestions can help us progress.


  3. homewardboundragamuffin Says:

    I am working on expanding a very small SEN team at my church and this is very useful, thank you!


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