Hello from Louisville (which is pronounces “Lew-vull” apparently) and the first ever CMConnect Conference. I am so excited to be partnering with an amazing group of Children’s Ministers and bloggers for the next few days as we connect around the incredible world of Children’s and Family ministries in the global church. It’s been great to hear from and interact with people from all over the world and people close to home as we share together our hearts to see kids discipled, homes equipped and God glorified.
This morning I had the chance to meet with Michael Chanley, the head of CMConnect and organizer of the conference, and I asked him, “What is most important that we as bloggers can share with our readers about CMConnect?” I was immediately taken with his answer: “Tell them our mission; that we are here to connect people in ministry to one another and God and we are passionate about equipping and supporting under-resourced churches.”
I have seen the truth of this statement evidenced in the atmosphere around me. Breakout sessions are being led by those “in the trenches” sharing practical and meaningful tips that others can immediately put into practice in their home church. I have seen ministers praying for one another in the hallway, new friends gathering to share vision over lunch (from the food trucks who brought it right to the door – with something called “Boss Hog Nachos” on the menu!!), and I’ve seen old friends encouraging one another and sharing the burden of ministry in a safe place where Jesus is lifted up. And, in the middle of that, I have had person after person say to me, “I got a scholarship to come here. We could never have afforded a conference at our church, but I was given the chance to be here for free.” The vision of CMConnect is being fulfilled!
During the session last night, Andy Kirk, a fellow minister from Australia, reminded us that “The who you are brings the power to the what you do.” In other words, when we find our identity not in what we are doing but in who we are in Christ, the work we are doing becomes kingdom work and the lives we are touching become “heaven on earth”, the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. What a great reminder that we are not our own, but His own, and when we are found in Him, we have no reason to fear. Like Jim Wideman shared a few minutes later, “If God has called you, He thinks you can answer the call.” Place your trust not in what you are able to do but in a God who is able to do anything!
CMConnect is about living that call. A vision that seven years ago started with 12 people desiring to connect to each other and to God in order to serve children and families has grown into a global group of over 12,600 members and now a conference where they are doing that connecting face-to-face.
If this sounds like something you’d like to experience, as a minister or a parent who is doing that faith forming work at home, check out the 2016 CMConnect Conference website and start planning now to join this amazing group!
If you are interested in reading more about what is going on this week, check out G.J. Farmer’s blog at www.childrensministryblog.com where he is live blogging from several of the sessions.
Or head over to Twitter and search for the hashtag #CMConnect where you will find other bloggers, session notes, and updates on all the great things happening at the conference.
About the author
Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at ChildrensMinistryBlog.com.