“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 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 leaders 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 include Shane Cook. For 16 years, Shane 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.
Also speaking will be Gina McClain. Gina has led children’s ministry for 17 years, including 10 years at LifeChurch in Oklahoma City, and eight years at Faith Promise Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. Currently she serves as the nextgen pastor at Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Gina teaches, mentors, and writes on the topic of ministry leadership and personal development. She is also a member of the ORANGE Leadership Team.
Randy Christensen will also be presenting at the conference. Randy Christensen is a professional entertainer and speaker known for his creative and inspiring presentations. As a variety artist, Randy has presented programs for over thirty years for schools, churches, businesses, conferences and community programming across the United States and in seven other countries. He is an accomplished, juggler, illusionist, stiltwalker, puppeteer, physical comedian, ventriloquist, clown, storyteller, musician, comic mime and national caliber speaker. Audiences love Randy whether he’s wearing a clown nose, or not.
Leading worship will be Pastor Javaris Wright. For the second year, Javaris will lead the conference delegates into an encounter with Christ in worship.
Recently added as a keynote speaker is Brian Dollar. Brian began in Kids Ministry in 1992 and has served his current church for over 19 years. He is the author of several books: “I Blew It!”, “Kidminnovation”, and “Talk Now And Later.” Brian founded High Voltage Kids Ministry Resources in 1998, which creates and provides Kids Church Curriculum, Music, Games, Videos, and more to churches around the world. Over 10,000 churches have used High Voltage Kids Ministry materials.
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! with the entire schedule on the Church of God Youth and Discipleship website. Dr. heather Quagliana, a professor at Lee University, will be presenting workshops on specialized topics including bullying, as well as sexual issues and children.
To register, go to www.cogyouth.org  or call 423.478.7229. “FOCUS Conference” is a ministry of CLA, Children’s Leaders Association, and Church of God Youth and Discipleship.