This past week I attended the Children's Pastor's Conference at the Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando/Disney World for the first time and let me just say, WOW. I learned so much about myself as a minister and it was such a great time of refreshment that I desperately needed.
I was solo at CPC and my husband came with me but he did not attend the conference. We left Lydia Joy at my parent's house since for a majority of the trip I would be in the conference and we wanted to scope out Disney before taking her in the future on family vacation. I was nervous about going by myself and my precious friend who told me about the conference that I planned on hanging out with while there contracted COVID and we didn't even get to see each other. I was able to make friends and have time to also process all I was learning in real time. I wrote tons of notes, and really thought about how I can take things back home.
Here are my notes from some sessions and breakouts. Some of the sessions gave me a powerpoint so I didn't write too many notes.
I loved every part of the conference but my favorite part was the large group sessions. So many times as kid's ministers we are in our kid's worship hour and we do not get to attend church. I go back and listen to the sermon's on Mondays usually after serving on Sunday but its very infrequent that I sit through a whole church service. I love serving with my kids but it was good to hear some speakers who get children's ministry and were able to pour into us as leaders.
My favorite breakout sessions were about mental health, how to help volunteers thrive, and how to have hard conversations. This last year and half have played a toll on many in these areas and we have had to have those hard convos this last year during Covid. Going into breakouts like this have helped me in learning how to minister to those who are ministering alongside me and how to better serve in the church
Let's be real.. it's a children's ministry workers dream to go to a conference at Disney and we loved going to the parks too. While at the parks, I studied why these people come here from all over the world. It's so crazy how much psychology went into making the parks and how the structure of everything works. It was really fun, clean, and inviting everywhere we went and that reminded me how important it is for me as a minister to make my space the same.
Also, it reminded me how much I don't like to wait in lines so I don't want my people to wait in lines. The big thing is convenience and how we offer the Gospel to so many in our ministry. When you're in kid's ministry, its about the family experience as a whole and how I need to be ready to offer a family experience. If you make it appealing for the kids, the family will come. We don't have the Disney budget, especially in small churches, but one thing that stuck out to me is that at Disney people feel the love and that they matter as a customer. I'm not saying that church members/visitors are the customer, but that they need to feel loved and know that they matter. They need to know what to expect and they need convince and security to feel that stable connection. My visit to the parks reminded me of that. Now.. I just wish I had a Disney budget...