Katie Wetherbee and I first met at a special needs ministry conference around 2010. She made a beeline to my book table and introduced herself. I attended Katie’s workshop and loved what she had to say. Before the end of the conference, we exchanged email addresses.
We quickly became good friends.
Maybe because we had a lot in common. We were both the parents of kids with special needs. We were both former public school teachers. We both had special education backgrounds. We shared a similar philosophy about inclusive education. We discovered that we had used many of the same strategies to create inclusive classrooms for our students. We also decided that if God had every granted us the opportunity to teach together, we would have been an administrator’s nightmare.
We also both loved to cook.
So we should have known, when we cooked up the idea to co-author a manual to equip children’s ministry volunteers to make every child welcome in their programs, that one of us would suggest using a dinner party theme to make the book hang together.
That someone was Katie. She’s the creative one.
After all, she explained (and I nodded my head enthusiastically), “Everybody eats. And chances are, church volunteers like Sunday school teachers and mid-week church club leaders and others who work with kids know a little bit about cooking and dinner parties.”
So the dinner party theme made sense to us.
But just because it made sense to us, it might not make sense to you. At least, not yet. So in the spirit of inclusion and with my teaching-to-different-learning-styles hat firmly in place, here’s a peek at Every Child Welcome’s table of contents:
Does it make more sense now?
Each chapter is packed with strategies for making church activities more accessible for children with emotional, behavioral, developmental, and physical special needs. But to be honest, why we wrote the book offers motivation for volunteers to implement what’s in the book. So instead of giving examples of the strategies, I’d like to share the first 2 paragraphs of the introduction to Every Child Welcome.
Jesus sets a high standard in Matthew 19 when He says, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” His invitation is inclusive. No gender is specified. The call is not limited to children who will sit quietly at His feet and listen, color between the lines, raise their hands and wait to be called upon, and who work at grade level. No child is disqualified because of pre-existing physical conditions, mental illness, and behavior issues.
Jesus sets a high standard that can be difficult for children’s ministry volunteers with willing, servant hearts but without professional child development or educational training to attain. Difficult, but not impossible. Because when God issues a command like “Let the children come unto me,” He equips people with willing, servant hearts to carry out His will.
Now do you understand why we wrote the book?
Now do you understand why we want to equip children’s ministry volunteers to make every child welcome? It’s because Jesus calls every child to come to him. And he calls us to bring them close to him to meet him.
We are very excited to give away a copy of Katie & Jolene’s new book to one of our readers!
Just leave a comment telling us why you want to read the book (Do you volunteer in special-needs ministry? Do you want to share the book with your church? Do you want to learn more so you can teach your child with special-needs?). We’ll pick a winner Monday morning and contact you using the email address you provide when you leave a comment.