“Wide and Deep” is the theme of the 26th annual FOCUS Church of God Children’s Ministries Leadership Training Conference to be held March 7-9, 2020 at the Gatlinburg Convention Center in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. This is a change in venue, relocating this year in the Smoky Mountains.
In January 1994 at an interdenominational children’s ministry conference, nine local Church of God children’s leaders convened 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 the 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 also 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 26 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 JUSTYN SMITH, YOLY PACHECO, EUGENIO ESPINELL (CHAGY), LITTLE TOMMY, DERRICK SKELTON, HEATHER QUAGLIANA, AND ESTHER MORENO. This incredible line up of speakers and entertainers will provide awesome training, motivation, and inspiration for anyone who ministers and serves children in the church. Leading worship will be the anointed Pastor JAVARIS WRIGHT. For the 3rd 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. Scott Hunter, Lead Pastor of Genesis Church in Tallahassee, Florida and Genesis Kids Ministry and Special Needs Director, Rachel Ritter, will lead this track. 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. DR. HEATHER QUAGLIANA, a professor at Lee University, will be back by popular demand presenting workshops on specialized topics that address bullying, sexual abuse, and more.
There will also be numerous exhibitors and vendors sharing some of the latest trends in children’s ministry resources for the attendees to see. Space is available for rent if there is anyone interested in sharing resources at FOCUS Conference this year.
The annual Shepherd’s Cup Award is always a highlight of the FOCUS Conference, honoring individuals who have been involved in children’s ministry for 10 years or longer and who have made children’s ministry a lifelong calling. Nominations are being received now through January 24. For a nomination form call 423.478.7229.
To register and see a conference schedule, 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.
(Source: Youth and Discipleship)