Welcome to our Special Needs Ministry!

Our special needs ministry (Barnabas) exists to glorify God by sharing the love of Jesus Christ and the truths of His Word with children and adults with special needs while supporting and encouraging their families through participation in the church body.


 

A Letter from Pastor Troy Dobbs

Dear Families with Special Needs Individuals,

The pastors and staff of Grace Church welcome you!

Knowing that families with special needs face unique difficulties and challenges with church involvement, we want you to know we value your presence here. Our goal is to provide the support you need to worship and grow in your own faith journey.

Our special needs ministry has trained volunteers to help you navigate Sunday mornings and settle your child into an appropriate Sunday school class. They can also answer any questions you have about our church ministries and small group connections. We are glad you are at Grace!

God’s Blessings,

Troy Dobbs
Senior Pastor, Grace Church

A Letter from Michael Crawford

Dear Families with Special Needs,

I'm Michael Crawford, the Director of the Special Needs Ministry at Grace Church. Thanks for checking out our ministry. You will see various options for Sunday school, parent groups, Respite Nights, Prayer Team support, and several other activities that we want to make available to you.

A big church can be an overwhelming experience for a family – much less one that deals with the challenges of special needs! It's important to us that you, as parents and siblings, get into the Sunday service every week so you can sit under the teaching of God's Word and experience the fellowship of other believers. But just as important is providing a safe and appropriate setting for your special needs child or young person so that they, too, can hear about Jesus, know His love and experience loving relationships with God's people.

Look over the ministry and when you're ready, give me a call. I look forward to hearing from you.

Michael Crawford
952-224-3177

Upcoming Family Events & Support Groups

Check back here often to see what's coming up in the special Needs ministry!

Next Up:

  • Special Needs Service Project | Wednesday, June 5

Learn More

  • Special Needs VBS | June 24-27

Learn More

  • Special Needs Summer Picnic | Sunday, August 18

Respite Nights

The next respite night will be held on Saturday, October 12. Registration will open in September.

If you want to be added to the mailing list so you don't miss any announcements, click here.

What Respite Nights Look Like

  • Parents drop off their kids for three hours while volunteers hang out with the children. Parents and caregivers can enjoy an evening off.
  • There are many activities for kids at our respite nights. A nursery is available for children ages 0-3, and older children (ages 4+) can play in the gym or explore a variety of rooms with extra activities.
  • A licensed nurse is always available if any medical need may arise.

What does volunteering at a respite night involve?

  • Volunteers hang out with kids while parents and caregivers enjoy an evening off.
  • There is a place for every volunteer! We welcome all comfort levels of volunteering. When you submit a volunteer registration, we ask how you would like to be involved during the evening and how comfortable you are in working with special needs children.
  • Training is available at every respite night. Training begins at 3:30pm and is available for everyone.
  • A lot goes on at a respite night. Volunteers are needed to play, help supervise, and lead activity rooms like the creative room, toy room, sensory room, gym area, movie room, and more.
  • It’s a great opportunity to volunteer with your friends or your family.
  • We have a nursery available for children 0-3 years old. Younger children of volunteers can also hang out here while parents volunteer.
  • A licensed nurse is always available if any medical needs may arise.

Upcoming Respite Nights

Questions? Contact Michael Crawford, Special Needs Director, at or (952)224-3177.

LUKE 14 BANQUET

Based on the Parable of the Great Banquet, Grace Church’s annual Luke 14 Banquet recognizes and celebrates individuals with disabilities. Individuals with disabilities/families/caregivers are encouraged to join us for this event for a format sit-down dinner, worship, and a special message.

Our next Luke 14 Banquet will be held Saturday, November 16, 2024. Registration will open in October.

Special Mom's Day Away

Moms of children with Special Needs: join us for Mom's Day Away and be encouraged, supported, and blessed through a special day of worship, teaching, and community! Our next Special Mom's Day Away will be Saturday, March 8, 2025. Registration will open in January 2025.

Sunday School

Sunday mornings are the center of the specials needs ministry. We offer classroom opportunities to children birth through adults at our Eden Prairie location. We serve a variety of students with a disability diagnosis, medical diagnosis, cognitive delays, behavioral disability, and more. The first step in joining our Sunday morning class is to fill out a registration form. This will help us get to know you a little before you come for the first time. We will help you determine the best placement for your child and any support needed while they are with us during Sunday School. 

For those who may need a sensory-friendly entrance at the Eden Prairie campus, please use Door 3. It is a quieter option with earplugs available and has a dedicated stairwell that leads to our Special Needs Ministry space.

We hope to partner with you to ensure the best care for your child during Sunday mornings at Grace Church Chaska. We will be providing one-on-one care or our “buddy system” for each child on a needed basis. For questions, feel free to contact Pastor Tyler Sotebeer at

Kids Class

Some students are unable to be successful in a regular Sunday school classroom, often due to behavior issues, low cognitive ability or limited ability to communicate. This classroom functions similar to a special education classroom with greater structure, more assistance, and more attention to sensory issues. At 10:40a each Sunday, their time consists of a lesson, music time, activities with related crafts, and snack time.

Questions? Contact Michael Crawford:

Register

Teen/Adult Class

As our children grow to be teens and adults, they continue in their walk of faith and in their relationships with one another each Sunday. Many of our students have formed lasting friendships and love being together in this class. Each Sunday at 10:40a, their time together begins with a snack and connecting with each other. They worship together, have a lesson, share prayer requests, and pray together.

Questions? Contact Michael Crawford:

Register

Testimonies

Here are a few testimonies of people who are a part of our special needs ministry. Prayerfully consider joining us!

Russ Adamson, Kids Class Volunteer

God tugged on my heartstrings to stretch my faith. The ministry was Barnabas, and I was skeptical. "Really Lord?" I thought. "Volunteering with disabled children?" I had zero experience, but God showed me "You don’t need experience, only love!" In obedience, I walked through the door into the ministry, and it has impacted my life and faith in ways I never knew possible. I have been immeasurably blessed in a ministry where no experience is necessary — just a love for God’s precious children.

Parent Support

Stay Connected

At the beginning of each month, we send an e-newsletter to families, volunteers, and those interested in keeping in touch with what is going in our ministry. Each newsletter contains a devotional, upcoming events, and general interest articles. New families are automatically added to the mailing list. Contact us if you are not receiving our newsletter and would like to.

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

Prayer Team

It is a blessing to pray for you! Nothing is too small or too big for God to handle. Coming to Him for all that we need is what this group does. About 65 prayer warriors regularly lifts up the prayer requests of our ministry, our families, and our volunteers. They genuinely care for our families and this ministry.

If you have a prayer request Contact Sue Kabala, our prayer coordinator at You may also request that it be confidential with no names.

Pastoral Care Support

We want to reach out and support parents during difficult times. Special needs parents often feel alone and isolated. We have a team of representatives in the special needs ministry who are willing to walk alongside parents during hard times. If this is you or know of a need please let us know. We would love to:

  • Visit and pray with parents
  • Refer parents to professional help when needed
  • Visit in hospitals during hospitalizations of a child or parent

In John 13:34, Jesus speaks of loving one another. Galatians 6:2 says, "Bear one another's burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ."

Contact Michael Crawford at to reach out to our team.

Parent Support Groups

Raising a child with special needs has many additional challenges. Support from other moms and dads experiencing similar situations can be a great support. Check out opportunities for parents to get connected at Grace.

Mom’s Group

Everything God wants you to know about the beginning, God, man, and redemption, is written in Genesis. But what does the creation account mean for us today? Sign up to unpack God's truth on creation and redemption, grow in your love for the God of the Bible, and gather in community with others from Grace. This group is for moms who have a special needs child of any age up through adulthood. We will use the scriptural principles we learn from the Genesis Bible study and apply them to the unique issues we face as moms of special needs kids.

Sep 12, 2023 - May 14, 2024 
Second Tuesday of Each Month, 6:30p-8:30p
*Optional Dinner, 6:00-6:30p

Eden Prairie | Room 217

Cost: $15 for materials 

Questions? Contact Lanae Doiron at

Register

Dad’s Group

We are a group of dads (or guardians) with children who have special needs. During our time together we have the opportunity to share our stories and address our challenges from a biblical perspective. We support each other in community and in prayer. Our study each month typically will be based from Pastor Troy’s message from the previous Sunday.

First Tuesday of Each Month, 6:30p-8:30p

Questions? Contact Todd Myers 952-220-6581 at .

Serve

There are many ways to engage and make a difference through our Barnabas Special Needs Ministry:

Inclusion Sunday School Support

Our inclusion program gives kids with special needs (birth through elementary school) the opportunity to attend Sunday School with their peers. Sometimes extra support or breaks are needed to be successful. Most volunteers work with just one student, supporting as needed and being available for breaks the child needs.

As our Special Needs Inclusion Coordinator, Amber Hoops will work as a liaison between our Special Needs Ministry and the Grace Church Kids Department to ensure that children with disabilities have adequate resources and support to continue growing spiritually and relationally. Amber will be the primary initial contact for families of those with special needs who attend the neuro-typical Sunday programming to proactively address issues and creatively find solutions to ensure parents and children feel comfortable and safe in the classrooms. 

Questions? Contact Michael Crawford:

Apply to Volunteer in an inclusion classroom

Kids Sunday School Class

Our Special Needs Sunday school class gives children who cannot be successful in a typical classroom an opportunity to learn more about the love of Jesus and the Gospel in a specialized setting during the 10:40a service only. We have an amazing space to welcome children of all abilities to gather together to learn at their own ability level and participate as they are able. Volunteers are needed for teaching, leading worship, supporting students one-on-one, or being available for different needs that arise. To connect with the Kids Classroom Coordinator, email Tom Kopacek at

Apply to Volunteer

Teen/Adult Sunday School Class

Our teen and adult class is an amazing group of students who have gained independence, communication skills, and relationship skills. This group enjoys learning more about Jesus and each other. During the 10:40a service, volunteers are needed to build relationships, teach mini-lessons, help lead worship, and pray with the students. To connect with the Teen and Young Adult Classroom Coordinator, email Michael Crawford at .

Apply to Volunteer

Contact Us About Volunteering

Volunteer Support

Caring for our special needs community takes a lot of love and support from many angles. It also takes knowledge and skill to handle a wide variety of needs. Throughout the year we offer trainings and resources to support our volunteers as much as possible.

Most of our volunteers come to us with no background in disability, but sense God’s calling to serve Him in this unique area. Our volunteers have many different ages, backgrounds, and experiences. Whether you are in high school, college, single, married, young, or young-at-heart, we have a place for you. A willing heart to learn and a commitment to this ministry is all you need. You will fall in love with our kids and realize what a privilege it is to be a part of the spiritual growth and encouragement of the kids and their families. Often, the volunteers mention that they are the ones being blessed the most!

Volunteer Training

All of our volunteers are encouraged to participate in training each fall. This training includes:

  • Testimony and devotions reminding us of Christ’s call on our lives
  • General disability information
  • Training including local speakers and other disability resources
  • Overview of medical procedures
  • Plans for the year, including curriculum selection and division of tasks
  • Getting to know the individuals being served in each department of the ministry and how to best help them succeed in their time at church

Volunteer Activities Throughout the Year

Continuing education will be provided throughout the year in the format of a couple of informational speakers as well as resources handed out either on Sunday mornings or through email.

Our Vision for our Volunteers

  • Attend worship services weekly, maintaining a growing personal relationship with Christ. Our students and their families are often needy, requiring us to give what only the Holy Spirit can do through us.
  • Make your role in Barnabas a high personal priority. As we conscientiously prepare, then offer our best to our students, the Holy Spirit will bless our preparation and do His work in their hearts.
  • Be a dependable member of the Barnabas Special Needs Team. We lean on one another regularly in this ministry and our students and their families need to be able to count on us for them to attend.
  • Pray regularly for each of your students, their families, and our ministry. Call on the Barnabas Prayer Team with your prayer requests and praises.
  • Participate in the various training opportunities and Barnabas activities when possible.
  • Communicate with the director and/or leadership regarding ministry concerns.

Special Needs Staff

View All Grace Special Needs Staff