Sunday 24 March, 2019 marked the date of the North England Conference (NEC) Children's Ministries Training Seminar. Organised in collaboration with the NEC Health Ministries and Disabilities Ministries department, this much anticipated feature of the annual calendar took place at Manchester South Seventh-day Adventist church. Pastor Michael Simpson, NEC Personal Ministries director, began by presenting the devotional, a heart-rending plea for us to take Children's Ministries seriously as a means of saving our children, harnessing their natural giftedness and mobilising them in ministry. He even advocated that churches create a cycle of evangelism especially for children.
This message set the tone for the day, as Pastor Leslie Ackie, British Union Conference (BUC) Children's Ministries and Family Ministries director challenged parents to realise the great opportunity that God has given them in impacting the lives of their children for the good. Deuteronomy chapter 6 affirms this, by calling on parents to be intentional in the spiritual formation of their children. Grace Walsh, NEC Health Ministries and Disability director, emphasised the necessity of a healthy diet and exercise for growing children if they are to experience optimum health.
Delegates also engaged with other professionals and were challenged to assess the current practice of Children's Ministries within their local church. Presenters included Mark Palmer, an educational social worker, Satish Paul a lecturer, with specialism in Autism Spectrum Disorder and severe learning difficulties. Ayola McKenzie a professional working with British Sign Language with people who are audiologically deaf, Pastor Sam Gardner and his wife Roxan Gardner who is a qualified counsellor presented Smart Love training. Janet Taylor a family in crisis practitioner, Jennifer Munroe-Dinham and Sharon Pryce experienced early years practitioners, whilst Joel Pryce is Pathfinder co-ordinator within his local church. These people collectively desire to raise the standards high, by God's grace initiating transformation in the way that we perceive and engage in Children's Ministries.
Topics ranged from a consideration of 'Child Safety Policy', 'Disability Awareness', the value of the 'Sabbath School Curriculum', the importance of 'An Inspiring Church Environment', 'Messy Church', and 'Creative Church'. This seminar tackled the threat of suicide and mental illness on our children, this formed the central focus of this year's 'Current Affairs' workshop.
Pastor Patricia Douglas, NEC Children's Ministries director concluded the training by sharing the Children's Ministries Discipleship Programme which includes the 'Coming of Age Programme' and 'Smart Love'. Churches were encouraged to embrace the full programme, to assist in the nurture of children into a loving serving relationship with Jesus.
Pastor Douglas praised God for the blessings of the day, the support of the Stanborough Press, her secretary Sharon Mattis, Communication director Lungani Sibanda and all who have been instrumental in making the day a success.
Delegates provided this feedback:
We're going to implement programmes we have learned here.
The training sessions were very well organised, they were also very informative.
The Church will use this training as an evangelistic tool to reach children, parents and young people.
Share information with church, apply theory to practice.
Delegates were impressed by:
The knowledge and practical experience of the seminar presenters.
Experience, confident friendly presenters and good resources.
The diversity of seminars.
The different workshops to equip God's people for service.
The care and attention given by the presenters to encourage and direct the participants.
The presentations have been really helpful…
I would love my church to be more supportive.
I thought it was excellent. If all my church Children's Ministries team had been here I'm sure they would have enjoyed it.
Brilliant training would have loved to attend more workshops.
Keep up the good work and continue to help others to be equipped for service. It's truly been a blessing!!