Associate & Family Ministry at NW Ministry Conference

19 03 2010

I am participating for a second year in the NW Ministry Conference at Overlake Christian Church in Redmond, WA. A wonderful 15 minute drive from home to get there (and then an hour to get home on a weekday!). Today was the first day for me participating in two pre-conference intensive workshops which means they were two hours long for some extra diving into particular topics.

There are SO many great options to choose from, today we were asked to choose two out of eighteen options. The two workshops I chose were:

1. How to Flourish in Your Role as an Associate/Specialty Pastor with Rev. Ken B. Dyck

2. Awakening Spiritual Parenting in Today’s Families with Dr. Michelle Anthony

In the midst of the second workshop I realize an overarching theme to day that perhaps God’s Spirit was whispering to me…. Count on and trust that God will honor me, my family, my ministry, the people I interact with even if I mess up or simply have no idea where to go or what to do next. As long as I keep coming back to God trusting that he created me (us) for good, despite any unknowns or murkiness in life.

The unknown refers to the fact that next week my new boss, our new pastor at LCPC, begins her ministry (on Thursday). I’ve met her briefly a few times but really don’t know what God has in mind bringing her on board at the church. I definitely have my hopes (trying to put expectations in terms of hopes) of what can be possible at LCPC with a new permanent pastor. I’m excited to see what vision she will cast and where she wants to lead the church, I’m anxious to partner with her (and the other staff and congregation folk) where God wants to lead us.

That is the reason I chose the Associate/Specialty Pastor workshop – because it was about how to be supportive and partner with your senior pastor. I appreciate that Ken Dyck addressed the group saying that although the workshop title was worded with associate/specialty ‘pastor’ that anyone with a ‘director or coordinator’-ish title was welcome to the class. In this class we were encouraged to be ‘Helpmate’ to our lead pastor, to mesh our vision for our area of expertise with their vision for the congregation as a whole and a lot of other ways to support the pastor. Also learned how to honor the fact that each associate may individually have our own personal ‘calls’ in ministry and to know that we may not always get to work on that call in our current ministry, it may still be something we are being groomed for a future ministry opportunity. Until then we can try to work out our passions in our ministry if it is in line with the pastor’s vision or find ways to volunteer outside of our ministry until God is ready to have us use it fully elsewhere. Until that time we need to trust God with our passions and let him hang on to them for when the time is right.

The second workshop I chose first because family ministry is one of my greater ministry passions and second, because I’ve heard Dr. Michelle Anthony speak before and she has a lot of wise words on spiritual parenting. Essentially, Spiritual Parenting is not a method… it is putting God first in all the decisions we make as parents. It is putting up a cry for help in those moments when:
– you want to scream at your children for something they’ve done
– they ask you an ethical question and you’re not certain how to answer but need to
– you’re not a biblical or faith expert and your child wants to know what you believe about God, Jesus, etc.
And then in those moments you take the leap, regardless of your angst or messy faith, and be real with them.

There are places in my ministry that I know maybe not the ‘deepest’ secrets or hurts in a family but I know some of the hurts and pains that a parent shares about a child or that a child shares about a parent or family member. This is the murkiness I typed about a few paragraphs ago. I know in my heart that children’s and youth ministry is not just about the children and youth but the parents, grandparents, and all other adults invested in their lives. It is also about the adults in our congregation who may have a grandchild, niece or nephew who may never set foot in our church but the adult sets foot in that child’s life.  I want to be able to be supportive to these adults as they walk through sometimes murky journeys with children and youth. I don’t want to solve the problems, just be a resource and a support – especially in the spiritual arena. Not that I have all the answers now, but listening to the experiences and ideas of Dr. Anthony (who is a family ministry pastor and a mother of two) were very encouraging and support to me in my ministry (and as a parent).

The comments/ideas that struck me the most from the family ministry workshop were:
– We need to help parents learn to parent the soul, not just behaviors and the mind.
– Parents need permission to let their children into their messy faith journey. Even if it is vulnerable. That’s how children will learn to be OK with a messy faith journey.
– Rather than flood the current generation of children and youth with all the the things they shouldn’t be and shouldn’t do, what if we help them see who they are as children of God and teach them to trust in God and follow Christ in those moments when they have to make a choice.
Make sense?

Two more days to go.. tomorrow will be packed with much more information, I’m certain.

Also bonuses to the day – meeting up with Doug’s cousin Amanda who is also in children’s ministry in the family ministry conference, and meeting a fellow tweeter in real life… recognized his name when we were in the Associate pastor workshop. Nice to meet people IRL – as much as I have an addiction to online life. 🙂

Peace, ~L




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