More than 1,100 people shed their old ways of ministering to children
and embraced new methods of evangelism and discipleship during the Assemblies
of Gods National Childrens Ministries Leadership "Empowering
the Next Generation" conference held in Springfield, Mo.
worship during a general session.
"I am challenged to find a place of ministry for every child in
our church," says Vicki Hopkins, childrens pastor at Oak
Hill Christian Center (A/G) in Evansville, Ind., as she waits for a
session to start.
Hopkins says she was disturbed to learn that churches lose more than
a third of their children during the transition from elementary to junior
high school. "I want the children to have such an experience with
God that we dont lose them," she says.
The four-day conference, held in late April, was hosted by the Childrens
Ministries Agency. David Boyd, director of the agency, says the conference
built vital relationships among childrens ministers, some who
had traveled from as far away as Africa and Asia to attend.
"Friendships were built that allowed veteran childrens ministers
to share their insights and years of experience with the next generation
of childrens ministers," he says. "They in turn learned
new ideas and evangelism tactics from the younger childrens ministers."
Looking ahead with God-given goals became the underlying focus of the
conference. Participants at every level of leadership echoed their commitment
to use the resources and training they received to improve childrens
ministry in their communities. "I have pushed my goals ahead and
Im going back with a recruiting spirit," says Sue Fugate,
who works with 6- to 12-year-olds at Riverside Church (A/G) in Sebastian,
"This conference touched almost every area of childrens
ministry," says Glorious Shoo, who directs childrens and
youth ministries for the A/G in Tanzania. In addition to taking what
he has learned at the conference to childrens ministers, Shoo
plans to reach the students of Tanzanias public schools with the
gospel and to warn them of the dangers of AIDS.
More than 250 workshops were held at the conference. "I cant
attend all of them," says Lorinda Butler, who ministers to children
at Evangelistic Temple A/G in Nassau, Bahamas. "But I will take
some of the tapes back."
Exhibitors filled two floors of Central A/G, the host church, offering
the latest tools in reaching children for Christ. Whether the subject
was clowning, gospel illusions, Christian comic books or ventriloquism,
the emphasis remained the same to tell children that Jesus is
the Savior of the world and He wants to have a personal relationship
Many conference attendees also took advantage of a free leadership
seminar conducted by Ron McManus of The INJOY Group a day before the
childrens ministries conference began. McManus told those gathered
that a church must have ministry to children. "If you dont
have a childrens ministry," he warned, "your church
has no future."