2017 Family Conference Report Featured

Written by  Youth and Family Service Team Saturday, 09 September 2017 15:49
"We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done." Psalm 78:4

In our fellowship's short history we have seen thousands of our beloved children who grew up in our congregations put on Jesus as Lord at their baptisms. This is thanks to the amazing grace of a mighty God who wants all people to be saved, and moves in incredible ways through His word, His spirit and His people. In most cases our children getting saved is also the result of tireless striving by dedicated, spiritual parents who exemplify Christ and uphold His standards.

In 2007, fellowship-wide we made a bold, right and vital leap. We transitioned from a traditional "Youth Ministry" model, to what we now refer to as a "Youth and Family Ministry" model. Congregations strive to equip parents to be the primary source through which faith is passed to children, just as God called the ancient Israelites to do (Deut. 6). In the past decade we have seen the fruit of this labor as God has moved powerfully to save so many of our children.

Over the past few years, God has begun to stir elders and youth and family ministers, laying on their hearts something exciting that we believe to be the next big leap in engaging the next generation. While continuing to take a "Youth and Family" approach, it is becoming clear that most congregations have fallen short, particularly in preparing parents whose children are so young as to still be in the cradle. Beginning in St. Louis at Reach 2016, leaderships of our movement heard the call to not wait until families have high school children to prepare the parents. The challenge, that Frank Kim so eloquently delivered, was to have a plan for bringing along our children in the faith from "Cradle to Campus."

As a result of this mindset, the Elders Service Team and the Youth and Family Service Team decided to expand our traditional "ICYFM" (International Conference of Youth and Family Ministry) in order to have our movement's first ever, "Family Conference." With the Denver Church of Christ stepping up to host, the new conference was entitled, "All Generations." This new conference was groundbreaking, also, in that it included tracks for Children's Ministry leadership and a parenting track.

The Children's Ministry track was of particular significance and excitement. This is because of the vital role that those planning the conference see Children's Ministry playing in this "Cradle to Campus" approach. This crucial area of ministry has had its own conference in recent years, which many have attended. This is thanks, in big part, to the heroic efforts of Steve and Vicky Bergem of the San Diego Church who have truly championed this ministry. At "All Generations" over 170 people attended this track.

There was an amazing parenting track as well. Frank Kim was the director of this track that brought together some of the best voices our fellowship has to offer. Parents were encouraged, challenged and taught in life-changing lessons. Of special note, the parenting track included two special tracks. There was a track dedicated to adoption, which was called "Forever Families." Another track was on the area of special needs, it was called "Exceptional Families." The over 500 parents who attended this conference had an amazing experience.

The roughly 480 Youth and Family Ministry leaders in attendance also had an outstanding time. For the heavy majority of attendees, this was their first conference having to do with Youth and Family Ministry. Nearly half of these individuals were also non-staff, volunteer leaders. We praise God, especially, for such heroes! Those who attended this track heard classes on their personal lives, their ministry lives and also had a day-long workshop on the "Ten Healthy Principles of Youth and Family Ministry." There they also heard from each other about great ideas that are working well in their local ministries.

With all tracks combined, the conference had 1,166 in attendance. The Sunday attendance was over 2,400 including adults and children. The Sunday service concluded the conference where John Lusk preached a sermon entitled, "Go and Make Disciples through All Generations" and then four men were appointed elders in the Denver Church of Christ. What an amazing, inspiring, powerful conference!

Special thanks to conference coordinators, Sonny and Kim Rhyne, Evangelist and Women's Ministry leader in the Denver Church. They also serve as the Family Ministry leaders in Denver. Thanks also to the amazing volunteer base of the Denver Church that served not only over the weekend, but for months leading up to the event.

"HOW CAN YOU CATCH SOME OF THIS EXPERIENCE?"
Thanks to many people's hard work, whether you were unable to attend, or if you were present and had to make the hard choice of one class when there were many in which you were interested, most of the classes are available online for free! The links below have all the content that was captured.
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