Tag Archives: Conference

Review: Awesome Kidmin Conference 2018

By Ruth Friesen

On March 2-3, 2018, I had the privilege of attending the Awesome Kidmin Conference. Hearing a conference described as “awesome” in its title made me a bit hesitant, but, after checking out the website and seeing the variety of sessions available, I decided it would be a good investment of time. I was not disappointed. In fact, I came away from the weekend encouraged and excited to try some of what I’d learned. It was an incredible experience to be at a conference with 200 other people doing kids’ ministry. A group of children’s pastors from churches in Regina had driven to take part.

The conference brought in a top-notch speaker David Rausch who, by God’s grace, has started a new children’s church curriculum entitled “GO!” He challenged us to think about the long journey of faith and to teach our kids that faith is not all about life being easy and happy when we follow God, but that it is an adventure. He admonished us that we do a disservice to our children if we don’t prepare them to face the doubts, questions, and challenges that living by faith brings. We were also encouraged to look for opportunities for our kids to serve; they they can do much more than we think they can, a message that was reinforced in a breakout session with Lydia Stoez on teaching our kids to pray.

There were five opportunities for breakout sessions with four to six options at each session, leaving many of us wondering how we were going to get to everything we wanted to hear when our top choices were at the same time. Leadership labs on Friday focused on gender and sexuality, volunteer recruitment and retention and basic training for those new to children’s ministry. The Friday night options were all focused on personal development, which was an important opportunity to be fed. On Saturday we had choices of looking at how to develop our storytelling skills, how to include kids with special needs, pick curriculum, teach our kids to pray, help them process pain, come alongside families and many more options.

Looking through the program I was encouraged to see how many EMCers were involved with the conference. Steinbach Bible College was a sponsor. Teresa Enns Zehr (Aberdeen), Arlene Friesen (SBC), Michelle MacGibbon (Fort Garry), and Lisa Schau (St. Vital) were presenters at different breakout sessions, and Lorna Kroeker (St. Vital) and Lisa Schau were on the planning committee.

Ruth Friesen

I left the weekend with new curriculum ideas, resources, contacts, and an invitation to join the network of children’s ministry workers that meets regularly in Winnipeg. More importantly, I felt that I had met God, been challenged, encouraged, and refreshed. I hope to see many more EMCers at next year’s Awesome KidMin Conference (www.awesomekidmin.com) on March 8-9, 2019, for an awesome experience.

Ruth Friesen says, “Besides trying to disciple my own three kids, I am currently the midweek children’s club coordinator at our church and have been involved in children’s ministry and work in various forms (children’s church, Sunday School, VBS, camp, daycare, group home) for much of the past 23 years.” She has a BA in theology (Providence) and a BSW (U of M), and is part of Fort Garry EMC.

Terry Smith: Why a Conference of Churches?

by Terry M. Smith

Why do we have a Conference of churches? Some say it’s because of missions; we work together to make disciples and plant churches. Some pastors, missionaries, and evangelists emphasize this. Yet, at best, it’s only partly right. We are a conference because of Jesus—a person, not a task.

Pastors Kevin Wiebe and Darren Plett spoke on unity at the recent EMC ministerial retreat. Kevin also recently reminded us that Christian unity exists because of Jesus (see his Reformation Reflection column online).

We exist as the EMC because of Jesus. We are one by the One who is our peace (Eph. 2:14). Our unity is in Christ: “just as you were called to one hope when you were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all in and all” (Eph. 4:4-6). This is wonderful, enriching, foundational.

As we recognize our unity in Christ, we are to work together in many ways in the EMC and beyond.

What gets emphasized within the Great Commission? Going, making disciples of all nations, and baptizing them in the name of our Triune God. Yes, let’s send more workers and also plant more churches in Canada!

The EMC has plateaued in membership for 17 years. Numbers matter because they represent people—and people matter. Sure, some church starts will fail. But the more we plant, the more we will succeed.

Within the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20), though, what is too often reduced in significance? It is “and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Packed into a few words is much.

We are to teach believers to “obey everything” Jesus has commanded. What does “obey” mean and “everything” include? More than can be said here. That’s precisely the point. Jesus’ teaching by word and example reveals our calling, our mission, is many-sided (Luke 4:17-19, Matt. 23:13-25).

We are called to faith, discipleship, evangelism, community, charity, justice, and much more. Does any of this sound un-EMC? One hopes not!

Consider again what our Constitution says: “The purpose of the Conference is to glorify God by building His Kingdom. This is done by proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ at home and abroad, ministering to the spiritual and physical needs of people, establishing and nurturing local congregations of believers, building and maintaining community among member churches, coordinating the concerns and resources of the member churches for the various ministries within the Kingdom of God, [and] forming affiliations with other groups within the body of Christ in order to carry out the worldwide mandate of the church” (page 20).

Terry M. Smith

This is a broad calling—as local as next door, as wide as the world, as many-sided as there are ministries in God’s Kingdom. EMC churches are to work together to the glory of God and for His Kingdom.

The EMC exists because of Jesus. We are one in Him and called to follow, to be, to work in many ways (Rom. 12:4-8). How well does your local church reflect this?

Terry Smith: TIES, Building Church-Conference Links

by Terry M. Smith

Ever hear someone say, “Our church doesn’t feel close to the conference”? If so, listen carefully as to why. Denominations and local churches are imperfect; they can err. Reasons and issues can be discussed.

We can’t change Canadian geography. We are a small conference with large physical gaps between some church locations (a reality shared with other evangelical groups). However, electronic links offer new possibilities to be involved in seminars, committees, and meetings without travel.

Beyond that, how might we respond? Perhaps first by saying that the conference is wherever you are, as Tim Dyck says. The EMC is not the national office; it is the 64 churches. You are the conference, as he says.

In addition, we might suggest TIES to help a church become more connected.

  • Some pastors say that “their” people were not raised in an Anabaptist church or don’t know how a conference works. If so, pastors, board chairs, and delegates can wisely Teach on these matters.
  • All churches are to send delegates to the national ministerial and conference council meetings. Each region of churches has a representative on the EMC General Board. They give and receive counsel. They both hold the wider EMC accountable and encourage it. Each church and region is to Include itself.
  • Churches are to use the materials provided by the EMC’s five boards on their behalf. These resources help Explore our life together.
  • Churches do well to regularly invite national staff members for a worship service or other event, a discussion with leaders, or to share reports. Every church will benefit. National office staff members, by mutual decision of EMC churches, aid in understanding and assist in our work together. We are to Serve.
Terry M. Smith

Building conference-local church ties isn’t magic. Much of it is basic to all denominations: TIES (Teach, Include, Explore, Serve). Teach. Include your church. Explore our educational materials. Invite national leaders to Serve. See, then, what links develop.