Evan and I just spent the past couple days in Columbus at Grove City CoN at the Kid U conference sponsored by Kidology. I have to say for the price and the distance it was well worth the money. Evan even said that in some ways he found it more valuable than CPC. It is a good length (Fri pm and Sat am-afternoon). They had a fairly good mix of visionary and practical information.
The speakers placed a heavy emphasis both avoiding burnout and family ministry. Both of these topics have been near to our hearts lately, so it is good to hear that this is what others in the field are talking about as well. BTW, get ready for family ministry because it is redefining not only how pastors view their role (vocational expectations, placing the responsibility for children's spiritual lives back into the hands of parents, etc.) but also how we view the church in general.
My main comments however, stems from a conversation Evan and I had with a NCPA (Nazarene Children's Pastor's Association) board member and the upcoming Ignite! conference in Kansas City. I had posted a rant just a few days ago regarding my disappointment with what I felt was yet another lazy attempt by the CoN to "resource" its local ministers. My rant as follows: "OK, I know this is a little off subject, but I just read the info on the NCPA (Nazarene Children's Pastors Association) conference in October and I think the problem of Naz white flight [HQ moving to Lenexa] continues because of all-around general laziness (theological, ethical and otherwise). There's so much that could be said right now, but essentially, why would I pay over $200 in conference fees alone to hear what is going on in Lenexa, Kansas in children's ministry? Ohio, perhaps? Oklahoma . . . really? Something is actually going on there???Incredibly (or not) three of the four speakers for the conference hail right from the KC area. (No hotel or travel?) But please tell me that there are other people -- yes, even Nazarenes -- who have as much to offer as these people who could use a wee bit more street cred right now (besides the fact that they or their spouse have been affiliated with HQ in the past) . . . I mean, who cares if they're "Wesleyan" at this point. Anyway, I bring this up because it seems to further support your suggestion of insulation, us vs. them mentality, i.e. running for the hills that is apparently paralyzing the denomination. We are simply more willing to pay the price for mediocrity than do whatever it takes to be citizens of the Kingdom of God here on earth -- even if it means losing ourselves in the process. All for today. Sorry, it's 1:45 a.m. ET which I think makes it even more irritating. Disclaimer: Evan told me to go ahead and post this. Of course, he was asleep when he gave me his blessing. I'll have nothing to do with it tomorrow."
So then, my conversation with said board member at KidU was very enlightening. What she explained to be the purpose of this conference was far different from the promotional material posted on the website. http://www.nazarene.org/ssm/children/ncpa/ignite.html. As she stated it, some members of the board asked themselves, what is the best thing about us (the NCPA group) getting together each year (which they do 2 x a year)? They came to the conclusion that the opportunities that they had for sharing experiences and ideas with one another, encouraging colleagues in specific situations, and general networking were the most valuable things they did during their time together. They wanted to give this opportunity to others not serving directly on the board. But the only way this basically voluntary group could do this was through HQ involvement Sunday School/children's ministry. Hence K.C.. Hence speakers speaking gratis. Understood.
NCPA, from my limited understanding of its history has been one of the few recognized voices advocating for children's ministry in the CoN. They are doing what they can. I appreciate that. I don't know that Evan will be able to attend this conference, but I hope it is able to fulfill the expectations set out by the NCPA. This is an effort by children's pastors to do what the denomination seems to be reticent to do from within. But considering the church almost disbanded children's ministries on a denominational level at one point, I suppose it's better than nothing.