As I look back over my 17 years of ministry with children and their families, I am overwhelmed by many memorable and life changing experiences. I have been blessed to be in ministry with amazing children, youth, adults, professors, congregations, and communities. My ministry has, is, and continues to be shaped by many people, places, and events.
Taking this stroll down memory lane, I find myself stopping as I remember 2006, 2007, and 2008. During that time I was serving a large church in Austin, TX and was given the opportunity to attend the Children’s Ministry Forum. As I think about these events and the way they impacted me as a pastor and leader in the local church, I remember:
- breaking bread with new friends as we discussed the joys and challenges of our work with children and families,
- excitedly taking notes as I participated in a workshop that presented new ideas, tips, tools, and approaches to try when I returned home,
- and participating in life giving worship that renewed my soul and sent me back home energized and determined to continue living out my call.
I often would spend evenings and early mornings in my hotel room going over my learnings from the day, outlining a plan for the months ahead, and thinking about all the possibilities that ministry with children and families creates.
Some of my fondest memories include (and for those of you who were also present- you too may remember):
- hearing the stories of conference participants being sung back to them by Ken Medema in worship,
- driving a minivan full of new friends and colleagues back to the airport as we learned that we were in the middle of a tornado warning,
- sitting outside in a church garden praying and pondering where God was leading me next,
- and participating in numerous conversations with new friends as we brainstormed, shared ideas, and excitedly made plans for our work when we returned home.
Children’s Ministry Forum is a conference for children’s ministry leaders in large United Methodist congregations (over 300 in worship). This event offers opportunities for worship, spiritual renewal, continuing education, fellowship, networking, and support. It was at these conferences where I was equipped, challenged, and encouraged in my work as a minister with children. Being in community with other United Methodists from around the connection made my heart sing as we exclaimed: “We are not alone! Someone understands what I am experiencing! There are others who are with me on this journey!”
Matthew 18 reminds us of the importance of gathering together, journeying together, holding each other accountable, forgiving one another, and supporting one another. In this chapter the author reminds us of Jesus’ promise: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
We are called into community. God moves in and through us as we laugh, share, cry, learn, wonder, play, imagine, and grow. Children’s Ministry Forum offers an amazing opportunity to participate in this work together as we pay attention to all that God is doing in and through our ministry. Will you join me and others from around the country in Little Rock, Arkansas this November?
- What you might discover at Children’s Ministry Forum 2015?
- What you might share at Children’s Ministry Forum 2015?
- Who you might meet at Children’s Ministry Forum 2015?
- Who you will bring to Children’s Ministry Forum 2015?
- How you you will experience God at Children’s Ministry Forum 2015?
Mark your calendars and save the date: November 17-19, 2015
- Confirm with your staff, team, and budget regarding your plans to attend Children’s Ministry Forum
- Watch for the Children’s Ministry Forum Website to go live on February 2nd, 2015 (this will include workshop proposal applications and hotel information)
- Register for Children’s Ministry Forum starting May 1st, 2015
- Invite your staff, leaders, a friend to join you at Children’s Ministry Forum
- Make your advent plans early so all will be prepared and ready when you attend Children’s Ministry Forum
- Join us for this event as we wonder, discover, and grow together.