Conference Overview By Tina Rae, Westview Baptist Church in London Ontario
As spring has come so have the learning opportunities for children and family ministries. I hope that you and your volunteers have had some moments to join in with a local learning opportunity through your association, with local churches, or even through online training. Maybe you have not had such an opportunity, so I would like to share about one of the biggest gatherings we have recently had in Ontario called Blown Away, and encourage you in your ministry wherever you are.
Blown Away’s theme this year was “Renew,” and that is what this conference brought to us, Renewal. It brought us a time to renew friendships, to renew our knowledge base and share ideas, and to offer us a time to renew and refresh ourselves and our faith. We grew through several breakout sessions where you could choose topics of interest for ministry leaders, parents, or for volunteers. There were also main sessions with some amazing and inspiring music and speakers. We heard from Sue Miller, Carey Nieuwhof, and Jeff Harmon who shared some very encouraging and inspiring words to take home with us that I would like to share.
Sue Miller shared with us from her new book “Not Normal.” She challenged us to be more than ordinary, to be “not normal” and to be owners in what we are doing in our ministries. She said that, “normal people do the expected, they do what everyone else does, but ‘not normal’ people choose to do this thing of helping people… for free!” We can be inspired to be different in a better way. She explained that to be a “not normal” volunteer you need to be an owner, not a renter. We know that renters tend to take less pride and care in the homes they rent, but owners put so much more into their home when it is their own. So she challenged us that we need to be an owner; an owner who believes deeply in what we are doing, who pushes the limits and sees possibilities rather than challenges.
Carey Nieuwhof challenged us to take what inspired us from the Conference and to keep that dream alive. Often when we leave a conference we leave on a high and with great ideas, but when we get back to our churches we make excuses of why something cannot work. Some may be legitimate issues, but leaders who make the most progress also make the fewest excuses. When you bring a new idea back to your church, be prepared to share your ideas: by challenging your assumptions, by understanding what the objections may be and being prepared to counter them, and by finding a group of people who can support you with your new idea. Also, be encouraged and celebrate the wins that you do achieve in bringing your new thoughts and ideas home.
Jeff Harmon shared a few times. He had some very creative object lessons which included a large sword, burning arrows, and lighting a pickle on fire. He held our attention and shared God’s Word at the same time. He also shared with us at our closing session and reminded us that we should run the race that God has set out for us, to “keep our eyes on the prize.” Don’t get distracted along the way, don’t try to run someone else’s race or compare ourselves to others. If we keep ourselves focused on our church ministry and focus on what God is calling us to do in our ministry, however big or small it is, we will be running the race that God has set out for us. We will also be meeting the needs of those in our church and we can do what we are called to do and do it well.
I pray that you will be encouraged in your ministry wherever you are. You may be in a place where ministry is great, or you may be in a place of struggle, but be encouraged. Be encouraged by the conferences, the local networks, local ministers and by the words God has to share with you. Just as God reminded Paul when he needed encouragement, may you also be encouraged by His words, “Do not be afraid, keep on speaking, Do not be silent. For I am with you.” Acts 18:9b-10a. God is always with you to encourage you on your journey as you serve him in ministry.
If you would like to order the media associated with this conference including audio from all the breakout sessions and media from the main sessions you can order it herehttps://westernontariodistrictpaoc.formstack.com/forms/kidzvillage_media_form_2015
“Not Normal” book introduction https://vimeo.com/124983515
For words of encouragement and leadership tips visit Carey Nieuwhof’s website and blog herehttp://careynieuwhof.com/
Christian Education Specialist