Larry Campbell of Special Touch Ministries responded to the question of how to assess ministry potential within the disability community.  Thank you, Larry, for allowing us to use your answer.

The question of utilizing ministry potential with the disability community is very broad and difficult to answer in general.

People with physical difficulties with no cognitive disability can fit right in with society in many ways of being assessed in ministry potential.

But when you consider people with high and low functioning mental disabilities, you are dealing with two more realms of people very different in their abilities and expression in ministry.

1. In many churches, we have people fill out a ministry gifting questionnaire.  Well, that knocks out people with mental disabilities because they could not fill out any questionnaire. Perhaps some people with higher intellectual mental disabilities could answer if you did a verbal questionnaire with them.

2. The first avenue for assessing ministry potential is observation of people. It is evident those that have the gift of hospitality and compassion because they are in your face asking if they can help or what can they do. Others are gifted in sports or games. There are some who like puzzles and decorating, while others like to straighten things up and clean. In worship, those who like to sing usually are ready to be up front and singing. Others ask for puppets or rhythm band instruments. I have some ask if they can pray, others ask if they can give a testimony, and a few of them are now asking if they can preach a sermon. Many love to pray for people at the altar.
3. This is no different from watching people around us and sometimes discovering giftedness in them that they may not see in themselves. Then we have the privilege to encourage them in developing that gift for use. It may be suggesting a place to get involved and practice that gift and mentoring them. We can talk with them and give lessons or examples of using that gift to the best of their ability.