Every Child Welcome…the most complete special needs ministry resource I’ve ever come across

Every Child Welcome graphic

Book Review: Every Child Welcome: A Ministry Handbook for Including Kids with Special Needs. Authored by Katie Wetherbee and Jolene Philo. Published by Kregel Publications.

Every Child Welcome is not simply the most complete special needs ministry resource I’ve ever come across…it’s also the best resource I’ve ever seen for Sunday School teachers, children’s ministry staff and volunteers.

Katie Wetherbee and Jolene Philo have distilled a lifetime of experience as educators, ministry leaders and parents of children with disabilities into a concise guide for anyone involved with sharing the love of Christ with kids…especially kids with disabilities.

Every Child Welcome is STUFFED with hundreds of practical ideas and strategies for including kids of all levels of intellectual, physical, developmental and emotional disability into the environments and activities in which we help them to grow to know and love God.

In this book, Katie and Jolene are very methodical in helping church staff and volunteers implement best practices for every aspect of a child’s experience at church. They cover EVERYTHING.

Jolene-and-Katie-300x275What sets this book apart when compared to other excellent special needs ministry resources is the practical wisdom Katie and Jolene share from their years of classroom experience in general and special education. They offer a plethora of ideas and strategies for teaching kids with extraordinarily diverse learning styles and ability. Many books and websites (including Every Child Welcome) have helpful information for managing problematic behaviors. Two complete chapters in the heart of the book discuss strategies for teaching Biblical concepts when kids struggle with reading, the ability to grasp abstract concepts or learning in group situations.

Two other attributes of the book that will be of great value to all who serve in children’s ministry or disability ministry are the practical strategies Katie and Jolene share for effective and sensitive communication with parents of kids with special needs and the emphasis they place on offering all children…including kids with disabilities opportunities to use their unique gifts, talents and abilities in service to others. An entire chapter is devoted to teaching children to serve at church.

This is not a book that will be read once and stuck on a shelf…well-worn copies will be found on the desks and in the workspaces of those serving in children’s ministry, family ministry and special needs ministry because it is destined to become the “go-to” reference when leaders look for answers in seeking to minister with kids with disabilities and their families. The book is also a fabulous resource for parents seeking useful ideas for helping their kids to grow spiritually.

In the medical field, there are standard reference texts that occupy a place of prominence in every clinic or physician’s office. Every Child Welcome should be in the hands of every children’s ministry director or special needs ministry director in every church in the English-speaking world.

Congratulations to Katie and Jolene! The two of them raised the bar for disability ministry resources very high.


Every Child WelcomeJesus set a high standard when He said “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” The call is not limited to children who will sit quietly at His feet and listen, who color between the lines, who raise their hands and wait to be called upon, and who work at grade level. Children’s ministries are responsible to be ready to bring children with disabilities to Jesus’ feet too. Every Child Welcome is the guide for leaders and volunteers to assist in purposeful planning and skill development for a ministry inclusive of children with unique needs. Available at Amazon and Kregel.

About Dr. G

Dr. Stephen Grcevich serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry, a non-profit organization providing free training, consultation, resources and support to help churches serve families of children with disabilities. Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), trained in General Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. He is a faculty member in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a group practice in suburban Cleveland (Family Center by the Falls), and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression. He is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Grcevich was recently recognized by Sharecare as one of the top ten online influencers in children’s mental health. His blog for Key Ministry, www.church4everychild.org was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.
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5 Responses to Every Child Welcome…the most complete special needs ministry resource I’ve ever come across

  1. NickyB. says:

    I love this I wonder if my pastor would “receive it”.


  2. jolenephilo says:

    Steve, thank you for your incredibly kind words about our book. Even greater thanks for spreading the word about special needs ministry through this review and everything you and your Key Ministry crew does.


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