Archives For Training

When I read Matt’s post Friday about his take on regional conferences, I felt compelled to provide a response. Like Matt, I have never been to the “big” conferences. In fact, I’ve often thought about “defriending” or stop following some “big names” in children’s ministry because it seems that all they do is attend conferences and that’s not an option for me being bi-vocational with only so much “vacation” time with my FT job and my budget. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to go to a “big” conference someday, but I haven’t, so I can’t compare the two.

I want to talk about some excuses not to go to a regional conference. Awana holds an annual conference in the late summer or fall with a general theme for all conferences, but each region plans and organizes their own conference, workshops, format, etc. I have been involved in conferences in three different states, helping plan some of these conferences and leading workshops (breakouts) with as many as 80+ in attendance to as few as 1 or 2 in a breakout. My first “small” conference surprised me with a mere 100 attendees. I thought why even hold a conference for so few? I was wrong, this conference was needed and truly blessed those in attendance. In these smaller breakouts, you can really probe issues the ministry is having and try to enhance their ministry. It also provides the opportunity to establish a local or regional network.

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A couple weekends ago I attended the Chosen conference, in Fort Myers, FL. This was not a huge conference full of presenters that you would know. There were not hundreds of people in attendance.  It was not put on by a big, international children’s ministry organization. On top of that it only cost $12. How good could the conference really be?

Before I go any further let me say that I have not been to any of the big, national conferences. So, I can’t do a comparison, but I can comment on the value of this conference.

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Last week I said, “There certainly are a lot of things we need to give our volunteers, but for the next few weeks, I’m going to share my top five essentials for us to give our volunteers.” Then I posted about the #5 essential thing for us to give our volunteers . . . give them resources! Today I want to take a few moments to consider the #4 essential thing for us to give our volunteers, training!

I know, I can practically hear you groaning as you think about volunteer training. I understand it can be very difficult to get volunteers to show up at training opportunities, everyone is certainly busy, but training is essential if we are going to be effective in our ministry.

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In our Children’s Ministry, we developed a volunteer role called “Coaches,” and we’ve had the opportunity to share these ideas with other churches. This volunteer structure can be incredibly useful in your ministry, whether you have 30 or 60 or 200 or 800 volunteers. And keep in mind that this type of structure is not just applicable for churches and children’s ministries, but any type of organization that is volunteer-dependent and where leadership development is a goal.

What Volunteer Coaches Do

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If you live in or near the Austin, Texas area, we want to alert you to a great new conference that is going to be held there on Saturday, November 6, 2010 at Gateway Community Church from 9:00 A.M. to 3:15 P.M..

The name of the conference is Illuminate, and it is the brain child of Kenny Conley and his team at Gateway.  I love that Kenny thinks outside the box when it comes to children’s ministry, and this conference is no difference.  According to the article Kenny wrote about the conference yesterday:

“…haven’t you ever come home from a national conference and though, “I wish my volunteers could have heard that speaker?” As a result of asking those questions, we developed the idea for Illuminate. Although I and a few members of my team might hit a national conference, our biggest focus is to bring the national conference to our volunteers.”

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image One of my favorite perks of being in children’s ministry is getting to attend conferences from time to time. I love kidmin conferences – or breakfasts, or luncheons, or training sessions. I love talking with other kidmin about connecting kids and Jesus. I love listening to speakers who encourage those in ministry to new levels of understanding and service. I love listening to teachers explain their new perspectives on reaching and relating to kids. I have done this long enough to know that there are thousands of ideas that I haven’t heard or tried yet, and I want to hear them all and try them all.

However, there is one potential downside to excitement about soaking up all this new information.  In my zeal to know all that I can, and to learn all that I can, I may easily spend all my free time learning, and never take what I have gleaned and put it into action. It’s as though I have become a colander instead of a cup. Very little is retained that can be shared with someone else.

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During the summer I started a new job, taking me to new ground: working with children that have special needs. Specifically, these kids have various developmental and cognitive disorders. I wasn’t sure at first if I would be effective in ministering to these children, as I have not had any previous experience with special needs. As I adjusted to this new job, however, I have learned some things that may be of benefit to others that find themselves with children that have special needs.

1. Though training is beneficial, it is not required to help children with special needs. My first trepidation as I started this new job was my complete lack of training in this area. Despite this, I was able to connect with the children and quickly learned what their needs were. If you find yourself ministering to children with special needs, take heart. You can learn as you go. If, however, you have the opportunity to learn up front, take advantage of it. Knowledge is power.

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1262266_21971210 Tony Kummer posted the following video last week on  I thought it was important enough to repost it here on Kidmin1124.

It is a scary tale of an attempted abduction of a nine year old girl at a church.  The attempt was thwarted by a well trained volunteer.  Someone from the church explains the training program that all volunteers at the church go through and the security procedures that they had in place.  I think this is an alarming reminder of the importance of training volunteers and being prepared.  What are you doing to train your volunteers?  Would they know what to do in this circumstance?  Fortunately, in this case everything worked out in the end.

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