The National Children's Ministries Leadership Conference, which took place from April 27-30, attracted over 900 childrens ministry workers from Assemblies of God churches nationwide to Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Mo. Leaders gained strength from each other in many ways, through learning about others experiences during the 200-plus workshops and the friendships that developed between them.
"It's been a very positive experience for me," said Robbie Wilson, 33, a senior from Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. Wilson, who will be interning at First A/G in Fort Wayne, Indiana, said the camaraderie and networking was deeply meaningful.
"I had stuff implanted in me for the rest of my life, commented Wilson after the workshops. Even though he led workshops in using clowning and balloons in ministry, he enjoyed how people were pouring [their experience] into me, people teaching me -- and the resources are phenomenal.
Other workshops taught leaders how to integrate anything from candy to black-light puppets in ministering the Biblical message to children.
A/G Childrens Ministries Agency Director David Boyd, who was one of the speakers for the six general sessions, described the conference as phenomenal and possessing a spiritual intensity not present in other conferences for childrens leaders.
Boyd, also director of Boys and Girls Missions Club, announced on Friday that two missionaries would be receiving $10,000 each from BGMC for their ministry to children. The recipients were Africa missionary Ed Corbin, who also was a general session speaker Thursday morning and has worked in Africa sine 1989, and recently appointed India missionary Joey Ellis, who spoke for the Friday morning session and was the coordinator of KidsQuest USA of Childrens Ministries Agency.
The funds were made possible due to a pledge of $10 a month hundreds of ministry leaders made just moments before the announcement.
"The networking of all these people [has] been exceptional, commented Boyd.
"I am very well pleased with the turnout," says National Children's Ministries Development Coordinator Marshall Bruner. "The general sessions have really brought a great awareness of ministry opportunities to children's leaders."
Christina Vargas, 28, children's pastor of Victoria New Life A/G in Texas, appreciated the opportunity to worship learn with others working in the same field, saying, it gave me confidence I didn't have before.
It is important to reach out to kids while they are young, according to a three-year study by the Barna Research Group released this year. The faith kids practice by the time they are in their teens will last with them for a lifetime. One implication of the study is that the individuals who will become the churchs leaders two decades from now are probably active in church programs today.
The conference also reflected the significance to ministering and discipling to children.
Kids are not only the future of our church, said Burner. They are today's church as many children are now involved in some form of ministry in their church already.