I remember the day it first dawned on me that being a man in children’s ministry was like being a rainbow unicorn in real life. I was at a Kids ministry conference at Willow Creek 15 years ago and I had to use the bathroom. Every bathroom but one, in the whole church had been converted to a women’s bathroom. It was at that painful moment, the realization came to me. I am not the average kids pastor. I have since found that I am not as rare as I felt in that moment in the halls of Willow Creek Community Church. The past 15 years we have seen more men see the value of ministry to kids, this is very heartening. So as a man what do I appreciate most about Group’s Kidmin conference (other than their very short lines for the men’s room?)
1. Their attention to ministry to whole person. – From opportunities to network to prayer/ministry rooms for pastors who need ministry. Group goes out of their way to minister to minsters. There are plenty of practical breakouts and how to’s but if we are not whole and we are not healthy in our relationship with God and others how we do ministry doesn’t really matter.
2. Humor – I love to laugh. Every year they have “The Skit Guys.” It’s rare that you go to a conference where the artists on stage tap into the inner Jr. High boy in every man. Believe me ladies there is a Jr. High boy in every man. They are hilarious and they are guys. From their Jr. High boy antics to serious vignettes I always leave refreshed and challenged.
3. Options – I don’t know if this is a guy thing but I love lots of options. I love learning in breakouts, in hall ways and after everything is over in restaurants. Group does a fantastic job of connecting people and creating intentional places to meet people like you on purpose (connect groups) or on accident (zorbe chairs).
This will be my third Kidmin Conference. I hope you join me. I would love to hang out talk Family Ministry, baseball or just stare off into space and say nothing because guys like that.
This is my second year a The Gathering. I will be blogging the conference as it happens so be sure to tune in for man session breakdowns, interviews and giveaways. As kids and family ministry leaders are converging in beautiful Southern California my thoughts go back to last year. I had never been to a Tru Gathering before last year.
I really enjoyed being apart of the conference for the following reasons.
In about 4 weeks I will be in sunny Southern California. As someone from the chilly northeast this excites me. Why I am excited may surprise you. Yes this winter was brutal, but I am most excited about being at The Gathering again this year because of my experience at the conference last year and what David C. Cook is trying to accomplish in this event.
There are many conference that talk about the need for family ministry and this emphasis is well founded. The family in America needs every ounce of prayer, strength and support we can give it. What I appreciated about The Gathering was the way they tackle the family ministry problem. They come at it from the standpoint of spiritual formation. That the gospel is transformational in nature. What families need more than anything is a deep understanding of the grace of God despite the dysfunction that we bring to the table.
When you come to The Gathering you will hear about the grand narrative of scripture that tells over and over again that we are dysfunctional but are redeemed and made right because of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. What kids and families need from us is not more programing or slick events they need us to point them to Jesus over and over again. Families need the hope that only the Gospel provides. I love how Paul describes this hope in Romans 5.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
In Christ we have a hope that does not disappoint. So many families have experienced disappointment that has lead them to hopelessness. The good news tells us We Can’t but Christ did on our behalf. I am excited to sit to listen and learn. To be encouraged to press into the inexhaustible richness of God’s grace. As a pastor, as a parent as a sinner saved by grace through faith nothing is sweeter.
I hope to see you there. Because every family needs that gospel and every pastor wants a free ticket to The Gathering. In fact David C. Cook has cleared me to give a ticket away. So waste no time enter below.
Stewardship. Leaders should attend training conferences because we are not just volunteers or leaders we are stewards. When you realize that you are a steward of the time and influence God has given you it changes how you use your time. It’s not your own. I love how the first question of the Heidelberg Catechism draws this point out so vividly. It says What is our only comfort in life and death? The answer is “That we are not our own but belong body and soul to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ. When we realize that we are not owners but stewards it changes events like these from have to, to want to.
If you are not growing. If you are not pushing yourself spiritually or academically then you are being a poor steward. The trap that is so easy to fall into I have many times is thinking that your ministry is yours. You do what you do for the glory of God. You occupy until He returns. You are a steward of the gifts, talents and abilities you have been given. You do not possess talent you are a steward of the gifts God has entrusted to you.
So go to conferences, read books, go back to school, have lunch with someone who is a mentor to you. Steward the gift don’t deceive yourself into thinking that you are owed something because you own it.
Conference season is starting to start-up in earnest. To be effective in any situation you need to have the right tools. I am not the most handy person when it comes to construction and renovation. If I have learned anything over the past 15 years of home ownership it’s the right tools make all the difference.
Here are a few of the tools I use at every conference I attend.