You wake up Sunday morning and trudge to the coffee maker. As you slowly sip your caffeine and review your lesson again, your mind drifts to the events of the week. You wonder if you’re doing enough. You wonder if the kids in your ministry are really growing spiritually. You wonder if you’re actually helping the parents who attend your church. You feel tired and a bit alone. You’ve chatted with other children’s ministry workers in networks like CMConnect, but there is just something about sitting across the table with someone from your own community, someone who shares your heart for kids. We all long for community, but somehow, it never seems to materialize.
Allow me to introduce Family Ministry Conversation Events powered by David C. Cook Publishing. I had heard of these events before and even knew a few fellow kidmin bloggers who attended (check out links to their posts below), but I still wasn’t completely sure what it was all about. Michelle Anthony, the architect behind the events, was kind enough to fill me in on few more details.
Q: Can you tell me what the catalyst was behind the Family Ministry conversations?
A: Even though Family Ministry conversations sprang up from the Tru Curriculum, we didn’t want this to be about curriculum. That was just one piece of the puzzle, if it was even a piece at all. Too often, curriculum seems to be the issue that divides us and we wanted to focus on the thing that unite us..passing faith onto the next generation.
I’ve just seen so many parents that are ill-prepared to lead their children spiritually…because of their own spiritual formation issues, because failures in the generation before them, and we had to find a way to turn that around. In order to do that, we have to start having an ongoing conversation about how we can support the family unit.
Q: In the places you’ve visited so far, do you see churches coming together in a new way because of these events?
Most definitely. I’ve done most of my ministry in California and it’s highly competitive out here. I remember the first time I heard about people networking in their communities. I was so amazed and I knew we had to get this happening everywhere! The competition element… I feel like that is one of Satan’s biggest tricks. It keeps us isolated and bitter when really, we’re on the same team!
We’re asking people to come for just one day — meet the people in your community! And you know what happens, people get to these events and they start thinking, “Wow, I love these people!” They start sharing ideas and then resources. Pretty soon they are planning mission trips together or family events or even community conferences. It so cool to see!
Q: So who should attend these events?
Basically, if you care about kids and their spiritual development, you should attend a conversation event. We love it when Senior Pastors attend with the Children’s Ministry director because then they can be on the same page from the very beginning. It is such a great show of support. People from all angles of Children’s Ministry can contribute to these conversations — parents, volunteers, youth ministry directors — you name it. We don’t want people caught up in job descriptions or roles… there’s a much bigger picture to focus on — the spiritual health of the next generation.
Q: Okay, so the dream was to get people in the community talking — is there anything else that you would want someone to walk away from this event with?
A: First, we wanted to be the catalyst to form the network. Sometimes the hardest part is getting things started. We hope that once the group is formed that the conversation will continue. Usually a Tru Community forms and this is led by someone in the area, a person in the trenches doing ministry with everyone else. This person kind of takes on the responsibility of keeping things going.
Second, we hope that the events will provide a bit of a spiritual awakening to the attendees. Too often in ministry, we give even when we have a deficit in our own lives. It’s like we want the kids in our ministry to have a richer spiritual life than we have, and that just can’t happen. We hope to provide some spiritual vitality while they are with us so they can continue to pour into the lives of others.
Lastly, we want to provide some information — something that will be meaningful and relevant in local ministry. Maybe it’s a controversial topic, maybe it’s a belief system movements… we try to stay on top of trends like this that might be affecting the family and provide information at these events.
Wrapping It Up
As always, it was a pleasure speaking with Dr. Michelle Anthony. I really admire what she is doing for family ministry across the country and feel so inspired by her writings. Be sure to tune in next week for an interview with Trevor Lee, a fellow kidmin blogger who recently attended on the Family Ministry Conversations.
More Stuff to Check Out:
Michelle Anthony’s book, Dreaming of More for the Next Generation