If your church is typical, at some point last December the front of the worship area was packed tight with kids acting out the Christmas story. Take a few seconds to envision the mass of wiggly excitement that stood before you on the dais. Try to remember how many of the children up there had developmental disabilities, physical limitations or medical special needs.
How many did you count? One in every twenty? One in ten? According to recent statistics, twenty percent of children, that’s two out of every ten, have some sort of special need or disability. If the population of kids who participated in your church Christmas program and attend children’s ministry programs throughout the year is similar to those of most churches, far too few kids with special needs attend your children’s ministry events.
Katie Wetherbee and Jolene Philo, co-authors of Every Child Welcome: A Ministry Handbook for Kids with Special Needs, want to help churches change that reality. They want to equip children’s ministry leaders and volunteers so they can fulfill the command Jesus made in Matthew 19:14. “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
Katie and Jolene both raised kids with significant medical special needs. They are both former elementary public school teachers with special education experience. So they took what they learned as moms and teachers, translated educational jargon into normal talk, and created Every Child Welcome. It’s designed to be a handbook churches can use to start special needs ministries and Sunday school and mid-week volunteers in churches too small for a formal ministry can use to make every child (and their families) welcome at church.
The authors also serve as special needs ministry consultants, conduct children’s ministry training weekends and present stand alone workshops at churches and conferences around the country. Katie lives in Ohio, but Jolene lives in central Iowa and would love to answer your questions about special needs ministry.
To ask her a question, visit with her about training weekends, workshops, and consulting, or to learn how to order books at a discount, visit her blog at www.DifferentDream.com. Click on the contact button and send her an email. She’ll get back to you very soon!