Children’s Ministry Leadership Training Retreat 2020
Ridge Haven Conference & Retreat Center
April 14-16, 2020
The Children’s Ministry Leaders at your church (pastors, children’s ministry staff, volunteers in leadership roles, nursery coordinators.), are invited to CDM’s annual Children’s Ministry Leadership Retreat at the Ridge Haven Retreat Center at Brevard in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Come join a community of leaders of the PCA, who are passionate about reaching the next generation for Christ! Susan Hunt will join CDM’s Children’s Ministry Team to encourage and equip you with a biblical and theological understanding of Children’s Ministry.
“Susan Hunt laid the foundation of Children’s Ministry in the PCA. She has affected generations, and God has multiplied her impact.” ~Sue Jakes, CDM’s Children’s Ministry Coordinator
Susan is the widow of Gene Hunt, a retired PCA pastor, and they have 3 adult children and 12 grandchildren. She is the former PCA Coordinator for Women’s Ministry and served as a consultant to CDM. Susan is the author and co-author of several books, including Heirs of the Covenant, as well as TRUE, the CDM discipleship curriculum series on biblical womanhood for teen girls, and Transformed: Life-taker to Life-giver and Life-giving Leadership. She has also authored several books for children, including Sammy and His Shepherd and My ABC Bible Verses from the Psalms.
Meet CDM’s Children’s Ministry Team. With decades of experience in churches of all sizes, the team can relate to the specific struggles in your church—and help develop practical strategies to enhance your ministry to children.
- Equipping Parents
- Kids and Technology
- Engaging Disability
- Theology and Catechism
- Recruiting,Training, & Celebrating Volunteers…..and much more!
On Tuesday, you’ll have an opportunity to sign up for individual appointments with exhibitors.
Cost: $315/person (includes lodging and food)
(includes registration, lodging in a shared room, and 6 meals).
Registration deadline is 3/23/20. If you need a private room, the additional cost is $135; there are a limited number so register early!
Things to know when registering:
- You will need to choose your 3 workshops. Affinity Group, and you may choose an optional Wednesday afternoon Lab.
- Priority rooming assignments (types of rooms) will be based on the order that you register. For example, those who register first will get first priority on rooming choices. There are rooms with 2 double beds, and rooms with bunk beds. Register early!
- If you have a roommate preference, please be sure to indicate that when registering. Your roommate choice MUST register within the week you register and include your name in order to be assigned to the same room.
- If you would prefer a private room, there is an additional $135 cost. (There are limited single rooms available.)
- You will receive an email 3 weeks prior to the conference with the list of other retreat attendees in order to share rides from the airport.
- You will have an opportunity to indicate if you have medically necessary dietary restrictions.
If you have registration questions, please contact Kathy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 678-825-1132.
A limited number of partial scholarships are available. Please email Kathy Wargo email@example.com for a Request for Scholarship form.
Susan Hunt is the widow of Gene Hunt, a retired PCA pastor, and they have 3 adult children and 12 grandchildren. She is the former PCA Coordinator for Women’s Ministry and served as a consultant to CDM. Susan is the author and co-author of several books, including Heirs of the Covenant, as well as TRUE, the CDM discipleship curriculum series on biblical womanhood for teen girls, and Transformed: Life-taker to Life-giver and Life-giving Leadership. She has also authored several books for children, including Sammy and His Shepherd and My ABC Bible Verses from the Psalms.
Ashley Belknap serves as the Director of Engaging Disability (the Special Needs Ministry of the PCA). A gifted communicator with a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary, Ashley has the ability to tackle challenging issues with creative and practical ministry applications. She served for four years as Director of Women’s Ministries at First Presbyterian Church in Jackson MS, where she led a wide variety of ministry initiatives. As the mother of a son with autism, Ashley has a personal passion to see families touched by disability reached with the good news of the gospel. Ashley and her husband, John, have three children and reside in Brandon, MS.
Bethany Belue works for the PCA Committee on Discipleship Ministry as the Established and Certification Coordinator. Before coming to CDM, she worked in Children’s Ministry for 9 yearsat 2 large PCA churches as the Children’s Director, Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City and Oak Mountain Presbyterian in Birmingham. She currently lives in Mobile, AL with her husband Dustin.
Mary Elizabeth Burton is over all operations at One Hundred Years. She grew up in Alabama and graduated from Auburn University in 2013 (WAR EAGLE!). After graduating, she served on staff with Reformed University Fellowship at TCU before moving to Chattanooga in the summer of 2016. Mary Elizabeth and her husband, Davis, love travel, tacos, good stories, and any and all Tom Hanks films.
Steve Collins is the Founder and Executive Director of Adults Protecting Children, which trains adults in how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. Steve has comprehensive experience training adults and working with organizations in how to prevent the sexual abuse of children. His experience includes developing and implementing child protection policies. He has expertise in how communities can create child protection initiatives that can train enough adults in that community that the culture of the community is changed and becomes a safer place to raise children.
Debbie Harrell serves at the Overseas Educational Advisor for Serge and the author or What’s Up? Elementary, and co-author of What’s Up? Discovering the Gospel, Jesus and Who you REALLY are, and the Gospel-Centered Parent. Debbie has been a teacher and missionary for over 30 years. She and her husband, Jason live in North Carolina. They have one daughter, Sarah and two puppy dogs, Juno and Murphy.
Sue Jakes is mother of four, grandmother of 11, and lives in Atlanta, GA where she serves as Children’s Ministry Coordinator for the Presbyterian Church in America’s Committee on Discipleship Ministries. She has served as director of children’s ministry at Covenant PCA in Fayetteville, GA and is now serving as children’s director at Westminster PCA in Atlanta. She has been teaching children, youth, and women’s groups in the church for over thirty-five years. Sue is co‑author of “Heart of the Home,” a Bible Study ministry for moms and Teach Me To Worship, CDM’s children’s church online curriculum.
Anna Johnson is the former Director of Children’s Ministry at Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church, and is currently teaching Kindergarten at Kirk Day School, a ministry of The Kirk. Anna has over twenty years of experience working with children in Christian Education and Children’s Ministry. Anna has a Master’s degree in Education (curriculum) from Covenant College as well as degrees in elementary and early childhood education. Anna and her husband, Jack, have one daughter and live in St. Louis, MO.
Sherry Kendrick has served as the Children’s Director of Covenant Church of Naples in Naples, FL for nine years. She has a degree in elementary education from East Tennessee State University and over 30 years of experience in children’s ministry as well as homeschool, private school and public school education. She loves children’s curriculums and tends to collect them. Sherry was married to her pastor husband, Mike, for 36 years serving in both small and large churches. As a widow, she continues to serve the church and has three grown children and one grandchild.
Dr. John C. Kwasny is the Director of Discipleship Ministries at Pear Orchard Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Ridgeland, Mississippi. He is also a Biblical counselor, an adjunct professor at Reformed Theological Seminary, and Director of One Story Ministries—authoring a complete discipleship curriculum for the church, home, and school—for children and youth. John and his wife, Martie, have eight children, three sons-in-law, and one grandson.
Burress McCombe loves living in the Shenandoah Valley and has had the privilege of serving there at Covenant Presbyterian Church, Harrisonburg, VA as the Pastor of Worship. Burress also takes great joy in being a husband and a dad. He cares deeply for the church and desires to be a part of aiding the church in singing rich, biblically sound theology. He enjoys playing guitar, running, laughing and being bald.
Betsy Palm’s heart for children comes from Psalm 74:8 “…tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.” She has been working as a Children’s Ministry Director since 2000, the last 5 years at Valley Presbyterian. The heart of ministry is to nurture kids in their faith, encourage and support volunteers and equip and assist parents and families. Betsy and Kevin, her husband of 36 years, have three daughters, two sons-in-law, and Hank, our grandson. Their favorite pastime is following Tennessee Game Days and the Chicago Cubs. Her hobbies include reading historical Christian fiction, watching classic movies as a family, quilting projects and crafting. Our times of rest are best either viewing the Great Smoky Mountains or sitting by the seashore.
Joseph Parker is a native Californian who spent nearly five years in Atlanta before God called him to Village Seven Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs in 2018. After more than 25 years of ministry with children, he is committed to the equipping of adults to diligently disciple children in such a way they will grow to become Christ-changed, hope-filled, productive adults (Ps. 78:1-7). Joseph and his wife Kelly have two sons, whom they adopted in 2013.
Dana Russell has been a member of Christ the King in Cambridge, MA for over 20 years and started serving in children’s ministry when the first children were born into the congregation. She spent her early years helping lay the groundwork for nursery and teaching Sunday School. With degrees in engineering Dana did not anticipate serving full-time in children’s ministry until she stepped in as director in 2013. Dana is passionate about equipping teachers and parents in guiding and growing children in faith and recently joined the CDM children’s team. With her husband she is also navigating raising three teenaged girls.
Becky Sinclair is the Children’s Director at Clemson Presbyterian Church in Clemson, SC. She has a passion for teaching children God’s Word and encouraging memorization of Scripture. She loves to explore different avenues and curricula to communicate Scripture in innovative ways. Her hobbies include spending time with her husband, David, and their adult children and grandchildren, reading, and knitting.
B.A. Snider has more than 20 years’ experience as a children’s director in PCA churches ranging in size from 200 to 4,000 but finds her passion is the same no matter how many children she’s serving or teaching about Jesus. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Tennessee and taught college until the Lord called her to seminary and full-time ministry. She graduated with a master’s degree in Christian Education from Columbia International University. Speaking at conferences, consulting with leadership, and training teachers brought her to Great Commission Publications in 2014 as the Children’s Ministry Consultant and Marketing Director.
Joanna Thompson has been in Children’s Ministry over the last 15+ years. From being on staff at her local church, to serving on mission in Albany, Georgia all the way to Uganda, Africa Joanna has learned that all children need to be taught the same thing: God made you, takes care of you, and works out all things for your good and His Glory. She is passionate about preparing children to one day walk with Jesus and “rejoice in suffering” and she believes that it should be the pleasure and responsibility of all believers in your congregation to proclaim the God of hope and love to the next generation (Romans 5:3-5). Joanna has been married to her husband, Brett for 12 years and together they have 4 children: William, who God called home in December, 2012, Magdalene who is 4, Deacon who is 1, and Campbell Elizabeth who was born November, 2019. In fear that 3 kids wouldn’t keep her busy enough, Joanna has recently started a ministry geared to the youngsters “in-between” children’s ministry and youth ministry. She is excited (and terrified) for the challenge to disciple a group of kids that will inevitably ask all the hard questions.
Lisa Updike is the Director of Children’s Ministries at Covenant in Harrisonburg, VA. Her ministry experience includes teaching, special education, leading children’s choirs, and curriculum writing. She has also spearheaded children’s programs in several churches. She and her husband, Kevin have been married since 1989 and are blessed with 4 children, 3 of whom joined their family through adoption.
WORKSHOP SESSION #1
Partnering with Parents – Communication Practices (Sherry Kendrick) – What are some communication processes and practices that help us partner with parents in sharing the gospel and teaching faith to children? Let’s explore some of these together!
Creating a Healthy Children’s Ministry Program! (BA Snider) – Planning the ministry calendar, setting goals, and trusting our covenant-keeping God for the results. Discussion of the balance between knowing that only a miracle of God changes the heart of a child and being called to teach our children the truth of Scripture. This workshop is for everyone new or old to children’s ministry.
Developing a Communicants Course (Joseph Parker) – What is Communicants? What age is appropriate and why? What are some resources we can use? This workshop will help you communicate our distinctive beliefs as a worshiping body of Christ, guiding our children in their newfound faith to understanding what it means to be a Communing member of the local church.
Serving While Suffering (Lisa Updike) – Even though you may be in a season of struggle…even suffering…recruiting still must happen, families still need your attention, and there is a Sunday every week! How can you serve when you are at the end of your rope?
Outreach that isn’t Extra (Bethany Belue) – All of us want our churches and families to be reaching out and drawing more people into God’s Kingdom. But how can we do that in a way that doesn’t become just “one more thing” to do? Come and talk about how to incorporate an outward-facing mentality into your existing ministry structures and events.
Child Sexual Abuse in the Church: Its Prevalence and Prevention (Steve Collins) – We will look at the prevalence of child sexual abuse in the church and what steps can be taken to protect children. Participants will receive valuable resources that will help in writing and implementing child protection policies and procedures.
WORKSHOP SESSION #2
All God’s Children Gotta’ Worship: At Home (Becky Sinclair) – What daily steps could we be taking to train our children toward loving God and desiring to worship Him? Learn some practical guidelines that every parent can incorporate through family worship in the ongoing discipleship of true worshippers.
All Together: Teaching the Bible to all Abilities and Learning Styles (Ashley Belknap) – We want all our children to learn God’s Word and grow in their understanding of the gospel story. How can teachers simultaneously and effectively address a wide range of learning needs in the classroom? This workshop will focus on strategies and tools you need to figure out how your children learn and how to teach the Bible to students of all levels of ability.
Essential Elements of a Fruitful Nursery Ministry (Bethany Belue) – There are many essential pieces of a fruitful nursery ministry and this workshop will cover them all! Join us for a time to discuss everything from setting up a safe and secure nursery, to recruiting volunteers, to disciplng our children from a very young age. We will discuss overall vision as well as the week specific strategies and practical ideas.
Giving Kids the Gospel of Hope in a Broken World (Deborah Harrell) – Each day you are faced with the brokenness of this world. Let author, and Overseas Educational Advisor, Deborah Harrell show you how to develop a discipleship model within your existing curriculum. In this workshop you will be given practical tools and a Gospel-Centered frame-work that points to the Good News of Jesus.
Talking with Children about Sex and Sexuality (Anna Johnson) – It is crucial for parents to establish themselves as the first and loudest voice their children will hear as they navigate the ever-increasing murky waters of sex and sexuality in today’s culture. But what should they say and when should they say it? This workshop will provide resources to help parents get started and assist ministry leaders in equipping parents in their church.
Coming Alongside Families Who Foster and Adopt Children (Joseph Parker and Lisa Updike) – As much as we would like to think that love is enough to heal the hurts of a child who leaves their birth family and joins another family system through foster care and/or adoption, it simply is not. Learn about the unique challenges and joys that these families face in caring for their children and explore ways that you and your church might be able to support them.
Working with Difficult People (John Kwasny) – Children’s Ministry would be easy if we only had to work with children! Being a Children’s Ministry leader means working with parents, volunteers, church staff, and personalities of all types. Discover some strategies for working with various types of difficult people who can be draining and distract us from our purpose of discipling children and families.
WORKSHOP SESSION #3
Partnering with Parents – Discipleship (Sherry Kendrick) – Parents are the primary agent to disciple their children. How do we help equip them for this and what are some resources we can share with them to help in this discipleship?
Ministering through Milestones (Dana Russell) – Celebrations provide tangible opportunities to connect with families. What are the significant milestones for the children of your church? How might you celebrate those in meaningful ways to help children see God’s faithfulness as they grow? Practical tips and ideas will be shared and discussion encouraged!
Classroom Management: A Gospel-Centered Understanding of Behavior (Ashley Belknap) – Managing challenging behaviors of some can take teaching time away from the entire class. Let’s challenge our views on how behavior is shaped and changed, examining what behaviors communicate and how to support all children so that they are better understood, better enfolded, and better equipped to grow in Christ.
Scripture Memory – Hiding God’s Word in Their Hearts (Lisa Updike) – Need some new ideas for encouraging kids to memorize scripture? Your ministry can come alongside parents in this Biblical charge to learn God’s Word as a defense against sin. Share your success in this area as we all gain new motivation for this task.
Recruiting and Training Volunteers (Joanna Thompson) – Struggle with recruiting volunteers for your ministries to families and children? You are not alone! In this session we will break down the challenges of recruiting and retaining volunteer teams and share creative solutions.
Small but Mighty – The Importance of Teaching One Child (Betsy Palm) – There is often one child that is listening and learning with a deeper interest. They ask the heart questions. They look for Jesus in the story. They ask about sin and grace. How do we recognize a tender heart and build relationships that continue to show them Jesus?
Kids and Technology: What’s a Parent to Do? (Dana Russell) – Screens, smartphones, and social media can be overwhelming for us as parents and as those who equip parents. How does God’s Word apply to these issues and what can we do to practically disciple children and equip parents in the use of technology?
WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON LABS (Optional)
Music with Purpose (Burress McCombe and Lisa Updike) – Yes, music can be fun. Yes, music can help the kids get their wiggles out. But let’s make the most of our time with the children by using music to engage young bodies, hearts, and minds in worship, solid theology, and thinking on God’s Word. Join us for this lab where we will learn music, make up motions, and maybe even write a song or two together!
Gospel Message in All of Scripture (Sue Jakes) – How can you train the teachers in your church to understand the whole story and communicate it each time they teach a Bible story? We will look at the historic, redemptive model of teaching and practice on a familiar passage, equipping you to go home and train your children’s teachers.
Gospel Illustrations: A Hands-On Lab (Dana Russell, Anna Johnson, Becky Sinclair) – What do report cards, tea bags, baking soda and vinegar, dirty tea shirts, and paper planes have in common? They can all be used to teach the gospel! This lab will demonstrate several object lessons that you can take back to your church to present the gospel in creative ways to kids who all learn differently. We will discuss the goals of each object lesson and how to adapt a lesson to keep it biblically accurate.
215 Ridge Haven Road
Brevard, NC 28712
Tuesday April 14, 2020
2:00-4:00 pm: Check–In
4:00 pm: Introductions and Instructions you don’t want to miss!
4:30-5:30 pm: Workshop #1
6:00 pm: Dinner
7:30-9:00 pm: Plenary Session 1 – An introductory interview with Susan Hunt
9:00-10:00 pm: Dessert Social
Wednesday, April 15, 2020
8:00 am: Breakfast
9:00-10:00 am: Plenary Session 2 – Heirs of the Covenant (Susan Hunt) – Why is defining and teaching God’s covenant essential in Children’s ministry? How does the entire Body of Christ participate in that teaching?
10:15-11:15 am: Workshop #2
11:30 am-12:30 pm: Church Size Affinity Groups
12:30 pm: Lunch
1:00-6:00 pm: FREE TIME (organized activity options/individual appointments/Exhibits Open)
1:30-3:00 pm: Three ELECTIVES/LABS offered
6:00 pm: Dinner
7:00-9:00 pm: Worship Service and Celebration
9:00-10:00 pm: Celebration Dessert
Thursday, April 16, 2020
8:00 am: Breakfast
9:15-10:15 am: Workshop #3
10:30-12:00 pm: Plenary Session 3 – Life-Giving Leadership (Susan Hunt) – Our leadership can be life-giving, not life-taking, in our ministry to children and those who serve alongside us in our churches.
12:00 pm: Lunch
1:00 pm: Departure
It’s a curvy and mountainous ride to Ridge Haven, but once you’re there it’s beautiful!
Here are some things to note about transportation:
- Best airports:
- Greenville-Spartanburg (GSP) – About 1-1/2 hours from Ridge Haven
- Asheville (AVL) – About 1 hour from Ridge Haven
- Charlotte (CLT) – About 2-1/2 hours from Ridge Haven
- Atlanta (ATL) – About 4 hours from Ridge Haven
- There are no hotel shuttles and no Uber from airports to Ridge Haven.
- Even though it may say 25 miles, it will take you a lot longer than you think because of the mountain roads.
Directions to Ridge Haven: Click on this link and print out directions ahead of time…you will want to have a hard copy of them in case you lose cell service in the mountains.