FOCUS Children’s Ministries Leadership Training Conference

“Break Thru” is the theme of the 24th annual FOCUS Church of God Children’s Ministries Leadership Training Conference to be held March 1-3, 2018 at the Marriott Hotel in Knoxville, Tennessee.

In January 1994 at an interdenominational children’s ministry conference, nine local-church Church of God children’s covenanted to help advance Church of God ministry to children. In September of that year, a two-day children’s leaders retreat was held near Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Twenty-seven children’s leaders from nine states met and formed Children’s Pastors Fellowship, which later became the National Children’s Leaders Association.

In 2011, the name of the fellowship was changed from National Children’s Leaders Association to Children’s Leaders Association. The name change was more inclusive of international leaders who are a part of this fellowship.

On May 13-15, 1995, the first national children’s ministries conference, called “For the Kids!” drew 300 people to a three-day event in Asheville, North Carolina. This annual conference, now called “FOCUS Children’s Ministries Conference,” has continued for 21 years. It has expanded to include Middle School leaders, as well as Spanish speaking delegates. There are 32 workshops, four general sessions, and even several pre-conference workshops. Each general session includes worship, entertainment, inspiration and fellowship.

Guest speakers for the “FOCUS 2018 Conference” include Seth Dahl who is a world wide speaker who trains children’s workers in raising up the next generation of revivalists. His passion is to bring God’s Kingdom with signs and wonder, connecting children to the Father’s heart so they will serve Him all the days of their lives. He is serving as Children’s Pastor at Bethel Church in Redding, CA. Also speaking will be Beth Guckenberger. Beth and her husband, Todd, serve as Co-Executive Directors of Back2Back Ministries. After graduating from Indiana University, the Guckenbergers moved to Monterrey, Mexico where they lived for 15 years. Between biological, foster and adopted children they have raised ten children. Beth is the author of eight books including adult and children’s titles. Brenda Marshall has been clowning around as “Flower” since 1981. She has been involved as the Clown Coordinator and a performer in the Circus of the King, a Christian circus, where many have responded to the gospel presented in a unique way. She has won awards in both state and international clown competition. Leading worship will be Pastor Javaris Wright and ministering in the creative arts will be Hannah Maggard.

A special emphasis this year will be a track of specialized ministry workshops on ministering to children with special needs. This track will be led by Scott Hunter, Lead Pastor of Genesis Church in Tallahassee, Florida and Genesis Kidmin and Special Needs Director, Rachel Ritter. This church is intentionally reaching special needs children in their community. Under the umbrella of a non-profit called Shine, the church has partnered with organizations such as the Tim Tebow Foundation. Each year, at an event called “Night to Shine,” they celebrate the uniqueness of each individual providing an unforgettable experience where children are welcomed, valued, and loved! Even their church facilities are designed to better minister to special needs children and families. Their goal is to help those with special needs realize that their church can be a place where they are loved and feel welcomed. Their goal is to help those with special needs feel loved and welcomed! Other specialized tracks will be taught by Becky Fischer (Kids & Supernatural), John Tasch (Dynamic Kids Church), Mary Bellafatto (Counseling), Jeff Smith (Creative Arts), and John Hicks (Royal Rangers).

To register, go to or call 423.478.7229. “FOCUS Conference” is a ministry of CLA, Children’s Leaders Association, and Church of God Youth and Discipleship.

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