Engage Conference 2014 [What Are You Doing Next Week?]

engage logoNext week this time I will be on my way to Mechanicsburg, PA for the Engage Children’s Conference. This is my third year going, and I am more excited than ever to get the chance to speak to children’s ministry and youth ministry workers and leaders about the need for ministering to kids from modern families.  This year, the five workshop track I am leading is called (wait for it…):

A Generation in Crisis – Ministering to Children from Modern Families

Here’s the description:

The shape of families in America is changing and so are the environments the kids you minister to are growing up in. What types of families are the children in your ministry going home to after your service on Sunday morning? How do you even define the word family in this day and age? Are kids from these modern families even coming to your church? Come learn about ministering to children from today’s families.

When I get a chance to talk to people about the Engage Conference, I am quick to tell them that it is the absolute best regional conference in the country. Here are some of the things I love about the conference:

  1. They let me speak. Let’s face it, anyone willing to do that can’t be all bad. I offer to speak on the topic of ministering to modern families wherever I can. So far, very few have taken me up on that offer. It isn’t the most glamorous or even fun thing to talk about, but it is absolutely essential that we minister to these kids and these families.
  2. The people who put it together are top notch. They are all local children’s pastors, and this conference grew out of there local group of children’s pastors. Accordingly, they have their collective hand on the needs of children’s pastors and volunteers.
  3. There are over 60 workshops to choose from. Obviously, there are five in particular that I think are critical (see below), but I’m a little biased. My one regret with teaching all five sessions though is that I don’t get to sit in on any of the other awesome workshops that are being presented.
  4. The facilities where the conference are held (East Shore Evangelical Church) are awesome. There isn’t much more I can say.
  5. The location (Mechanicsburg, PA) is convenient to so many of you. I’m driving 6 hours to attend, but I’m told Philadelphia, Baltimore and maybe even Washington are within 2 1/2 hours. Trust me, it’s worth the drive.
  6. You can’t beat the cost. You get one-and-a-half days worth of training (and lunch on Saturday) for $25 if your register before November. $35 per person after that.
  7. I’m (probably) bringing my 13 year old son with me this year. He’s interested to see me speak at these conferences, and I think it will be a good experience for him. Plus, he’s really looking forward to learning to make balloon animals.
  8. I can’t wait to meet you! If you’re coming, let me know. I want to make plans to meet you.

If you need more information, make sure to check out EngageChildren.org and click on the conference link.

If you were wondering, the track consists of five one hour workshops over two days and will cover a wide variety of topics including:

WORKSHOP A: Defining the Modern Family: What Is It and Why Does it Matter?

What does family mean today and what should the changing shape of families mean to your church? In this workshop we’ll look at why it’s important to define the term family, various views of family and the changing shape of families. We’ll also discuss why understanding modern families matters to your church, different family ministry models and what your church’s vision and approach should be for today’s modern families and kids.

WORKSHOP B: How Can I Help?: Ministering to Children Living Through Family Disruption

If you work with kids or teens, it is likely that at some point one of them will come to you to let you know that their parents are divorced or getting a divorce. Are you prepared for that conversation? In this workshop we will discuss practical ways to help kids living through family disruption. We’ll talk about how kids experience family disruption at each stage of development, how to help kids at every stage of family disruption and specific ideas and things you as an individual can do to help these kids.

WORKSHOP C: Hope 4 Hurting Kids: A “How To” Guide for Ministering to Kids in Crisis

Studies show that adverse childhood experiences increase the likelihood of negative life results. Many times these negative results show themselves during childhood and the teenage years. In this workshop, we will look at some of the common negative outcomes and behaviors frequently encountered by children and teens who have experienced family disruption and other high stress life events including abuse, cutting, suicide, acting out, and more. We’ll look at warning signs for each situation and provide practical guidance about what you can do to help.


WORKSHOP D: God, Church and the Modern Child: The Spiritual Impact of Life in a Modern Family

The changing shape of families and the increase in family disruptions has a significant impact on how children relate to God and the Church. In this workshop, we’ll talk about how family disruption impacts a child’s spiritual journey, the hurdles that these children face in their relationship with God and what the Church can do to help.

WORKSHOP E: Dealing With Difficult Emotions: Helping Kids Navigate the Minefield of Their Feelings

Kids and teens today deal daily with emotions that would make most adults buckle under the pressure. Fatherlessness, ever-changing family structures, divorce, financial difficulties, bullying, peer pressure and more lead to intense emotions that kids are often unable or ill-equipped to deal with. In this training workshop we will take a closer look at the “Big 5” (Anger, Anxiety, Sadness, Grief & Stress) as well as a six point plan for helping kids deal with difficult emotions. This workshop is packed full of practical suggestions for helping kids to understand and process their emotions.

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