Attending a conference with friends is the best way I’ve found to learn and sharpen my skills as a professional Christian educator. I’m a verbal processor so asking questions and hearing the take-aways from those I trust will fill my creative bucket quickly. Last week at Children’s Pastors Conference sponsored by INCM (International Network of Children’s Ministry) proved even more fruitful when I shared a house with twelve other kidmin leaders from twelve local churches attending the same conference for the entire week.

CPC does a fabulous job of intentionally adding to my resource shelves and providing content to do my job better through various breakout sessions. CPC especially pours into us as disciples in the general sessions with incredibly effective communicators.

One of the most impactful for me was the general session with Bo Barredo, an attorney and native missionary to the Philippines. He and his attorney wife co-founded Advancing Native Missions. He shared, “Hope is anticipating the best of what’s good.”
“Mamas are a child’s first Children’s Pastor.”
“Those in Christ share in His story therefore we will share in His suffering.”
“Until Christ returns or we return to Him, we must work and suffer.”
“How do I stay in my hope in the middle of my journey and remain alive and vibrant until the first moment of eternity? JOY!”
“Do not have a poor joy.”
Brother Bo offered four places where I can find joy in the waiting and even the suffering. He is spot on.

Regarding content, I thoroughly enjoyed and got my sword sharpened by the following:

Gender-Specific Ministry Matters led by Cindy Bultema (GEMS for girls) and Adam Sculnick (CIA for boys). Backed by research, we explored…
86% of teen girls say they would feel more confident if they had a mentor
The average church offers 3-6 ministries for women and girls, but only 1-2 ministries for men and boys.
Church has become A place to go rather than THE place to go to learn to follow Jesus.

Family Ministry: A Holistic Approach led by Kathleen Jaoudi sharing, “Don’t re-invent the wheel; just add the layer.” I’ll save greater details about this breakout in a separate blogpost.

Equipping Parents to Navigate Technology and Their Kids led by Ela Hammond. She shared all her resources of books, links, a musical game, QR codes, takeaways, through a parent workshop model. Ela offered breakout information for (1) Screen Time for Littles, (2) Should I give my kid a phone?, (3) Pornography Prevention, (4) Social Media Strategies, and (5) Video gaming/YouTube.
“Today’s families have food boundaries, why not technology boundaries?”
“Our kids will be discipled by something.”
“In West Virginia, the majority of kids’ caregivers are not parents, but grandparents.”

Reaching the Families in Your Community led by Jennifer Edwards gave multiple, easy ideas for being a good neighbor in Jerusalem (inside the church) and in Judea (outside the church) in the community where we live. She’s presenting at the She Leads Church Online Conference and I can’t wait! In the mean time, I’ll be implementing several of her ideas within the next six weeks.

Holidays and Holy Days: Hands-On Celebration Ideas led by Emily Snider walked us through the seven festivals God called His people to celebrate in the scriptures. The four spring festivals celebrate Jesus’ first coming. The three fall festivals remind us of what will be fulfilled upon Jesus’ second coming. For this gal who has no trouble celebrating Jesus, this breakout just added more confetti to this amazing walk with Jesus. Watch out February!

Engaging the Grandparents in Your Ministry was led by Jill Vogel, a representative of the amazing folks at Legacy Coalition. The resources abound there and are fantastic. Their blog is great, their resources are great, their books are great, and their people are great. I found Legacy Coalition at my last in-person CPC2020. It gave me everything I needed to start a new ministry with grandparents during the shut-down which grew by leaps and bounds. I came back this time with lots of resources to gift to those involved in our Grandparenting With A Purpose team, to add to our Faith Grandparenting Facebook group, and share with churches where I lead workshops on this very thing.

The greatest content? The chats around tables, pizzas, Walmart & Publix & Bucc-ee’s runs, hallways, benches, beignets, walking trails, and Animal Kingdom ride lines (2.5 hours for the Avatar ride!) with my housemates who share the trenches in ministry from Georgia to Ohio. The discounted rate for CPC24 is good until January 20th and worth every penny. We’ve rented an even bigger AirBnB and we have four extra spots because sharing together is the best way to go.

My Spirit is full, my mission is clear, my joy can’t be contained, and I’m coming in hot to share the unending hope I have with whomever will listen or not. 2023, I’m coming for ya with my hands raised high!

“Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence.” Psalm 21:6