Announcing the 25th Annual FOCUS Children’s Ministries Leadership Training Conference

“Go Beyond” is the theme of the 25th annual FOCUS Church of God Children’s Ministries Leadership Training Conference to be held February 28-March 2, 2019 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 2019 Conference” include Craig Jutila. Craig is a best-selling author and communicator to audiences throughout the country on the topics of leadership and family. Craig is the author of several books and has appeared on numerous radio and TV shows discussing the topics of parenting, marriage and work-life balance. Craig’s most recent book, is “Faith and the Modern Family: How to Raise a Healthy Family in a Modern World.” ! Craig was also voted by Group Magazine as one of the top 20 influencers in Family Ministry. He is the president and founder of Empowered Living whose mission is to empower leaders and their families for life. We are excited to have him with us today.

Also speaking will be Shane Cooke. For 16 years was the Children’s Pastor at Living Waters Full Gospel Church in Durban, South Africa having also been the Youth Minister for a 4 year period. He also Founded and pastored Mountain View Family Church for 4 1/2 years in Durban. In 2002, Shane moved to Australia to take up the position of Children’s Pastor at Faith Christian Church in Melbourne, Australia. A position he held for the next 14 years. Now, Shane travels around the world speaking to children, children’s ministry leaders, and families. The passion of his heart is to see God move in and through the next generation of kids, that these children would encounter the Power and the Presence of God as they operate in the Gifts and callings of God.

Leading worship will be the anointed Pastor Javaris Wright. For the 2nd year, Javaris will lead the conference delegates into an encounter with Christ in worship.

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 also be available and will be announced with the entire schedule on the Church of God Youth and Discipleship website.

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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