Build Something That Lasts: How to Structure Your Disability Ministry

By |Published On: May 31, 2022|Categories: For the Church|

Building something that lasts requires a solid foundation. We all know this. But often, we don’t see it until things start to go wrong.

Like a house of cards, many disability ministries are one breath away from collapse.

So, how do we build ministries that stand the test of time?

There are three roles essential to any disability ministry. While a small ministry may have one person filling these roles, a growing ministry will need to delegate these responsibilities to a team.

Remember! “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NIV)

Role 1: Leadership Liaison

Keeping other church leaders in the loop is vital to the health of your ministry.

When a disability ministry gets siloed, failure is only a matter of time.

A leadership liaison communicates across ministries. They are the bridge that ensures other leaders factor disability into their programs and ministries.

For example, consider what happens when a child moves from kid’s ministry to the youth group. Were they receiving specific support (like a one-on-one buddy) in the kids’ ministry? Will they need similar support in the youth group? What do staff and volunteers need to know about this student?

Or when planning an outreach event, will the planners have someone to ask about how to include the disability community?

A leadership liaison helps take “disability ministry” into every ministry of the church.

(For more on this, read Removing Barriers: 2 Steps to Make Your Church Accessible and How to Get Your Pastor Excited About Disability Ministry.)

Role 2: Volunteer Liaison

Training, encouraging, and coordinating volunteers is key to any ministry. None of those things happen by accident. And having one element without the others is a recipe for disaster. Supporting your volunteers is important for the health of your whole ministry.

When your volunteers are working well, it’s easy to forget about them! But intentional care now will prevent attrition and burnout later.

Role 3: Family Liaison

Disability ministry is constantly evolving. Why? Because the needs of families change over time. Having someone who is aware of a family’s current situation is critical to meeting their felt needs. Many parents of a child with a disability are stretched thin.

Communicating changes in their family can be just another burden. Someone who pursues them regularly will build trust and keep your ministry vibrant. A family liaison can be responsible for updating the Family Ministry Profiles.

(For more, read How Disability Affects the Family.)

Recruiting Volunteers

Disability ministry can sound like the realm of medical professionals and trained special-ed teachers. But not being an expert doesn’t mean someone is unqualified! While experts provide helpful insights, a heart to love others is essential.

The Fruit of the Spirit is the most important thing any volunteer brings to the table.

Who to Recruit

Character counts far more than experience or expertise. You don’t need just experts, but you also don’t need just anyone. You want volunteers who want to grow in their God-given gifting.

Be cautious recruiting parents or siblings of someone with a disability. Just because their family member has a disability doesn’t mean they’re called to serve in a particular way! Help them explore different service opportunities. Where is God calling them?

An older woman hugging a young woman, their eyes closed, smiling and laughing.

How to Recruit

Someone who feels unqualified to help is unlikely to ever step forward. So, help those with the character qualities you need see how their gifts can be used in disability ministry! Consider the power of saying to someone,

“I see the way you are patient and kind and always remember details about people’s lives. These are the qualities we need in our disability ministry. Will you consider joining us?”

Compare that ask to the slightly desperate call, “Does anyone, anyone at all, want to help out?”

What to Ask

Define the volunteer’s role, when they’ll serve, the length of their commitment, and how they will be trained. Volunteers also need to know who to contact with their questions.

Vague or ambiguous requests are never useful.

Clarity helps everyone!


No two disability ministries will look the same. In some churches, disability ministry won’t involve a “ministry” at all! But serving people with disabilities takes intentionality. Sharing the responsibilities with a team ensures a ministry will thrive for years to come.

“Ministry structure” might not be the most exciting topic in the world. But structuring your ministry well leads to fruitfulness, sustainability, and longevity.

For help thinking through your church’s unique situation, contact us! We’d be honored to serve you, and to get you plugged into one of our local church networks. We’re here to help.

Do You Have Questions?

Contact us at [email protected] or call (818) 707-5664. We’re here for you. Your ministry’s success is our highest priority! 

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