Christ UMC Farmers Branch hosted the conference-wide Children’s and Youth Volunteer Training Event on Saturday morning, August 13. Amy Ruppersberg, Children’s Director, and David Magallanes, Student Ministries Director, welcomed the volunteers at 8:30 a.m. Amy thanked everyone for volunteering and went over the positions and the schedule. David said a prayer before the group departed to the greeting stations or the narthex for registration and giving directions.
A breakfast table had a variety of pastry options, fruit, and even homemade sausage biscuits. People from churches around the conference arrived to check in or register at 9 a.m. Worship began in the sanctuary at 9:15 with the Christ Alive Band. The keynote speaker was Joe Stobaugh, Executive Minister of Worship and Arts at Grace Avenue UMC in Frisco.
Stobaugh began by playing a praise song on ukulele, then had the congregation to join him in singing. He is the leader of the ukulele choir at Grace Avenue. Joe is also a very outgoing and affable man and a practiced speaker. He shared a nice – and personal – story of not being interested at all in singing when he was growing up. A mentor saw some potential in him and talked him into playing guitar in the band, even offering to give him a very nice guitar for one dollar. Stobaugh said he could not do that. To which his mentor said he would give it to him for free with two conditions. One, he would only play music for God on the guitar. Two, when the time came, he would pass it on to another youth. Joe still has the guitar and plays it. When the time comes he will pass it on as agreed. An excellent example of the effect a volunteer can have on children and youth.
Appreciating and Equipping Your Volunteers was facilitated by the Children’s Minister at Grace Avenue UMC, Kristen Lane. She discussed tools of the trade and giving volunteers what they need and more. Kristen was a lively and vibrant speaker, as was Beth McClure. Beth led the Your Classroom is God’s Classroom workshop. She is the Director of the Early Development Program at Holy Covenant UMC in Carrollton. McClure demonstrated the way she motivated the children to behave by using little “jingles” that let the children know was coming next.
Kelly Carpenter of the Children, Youth, and Young Adult Ministry of the North Texas
Conference, led a roundtable for Children’s Ministry in the first session and Youth Ministry in the second session. The round tables were discussions about life, ministry, balance, programming, and anything needing to be discussed. Some good ideas were shared and a few people were able to get some things off their chest as to some effects of volunteering.
In the second session, which pertained to youth, Morgan Stafford led the workshop on The Adventure of Youth Mentoring. As Executive Director at Christ’s Foundry, Stafford discussed the joys and challenges of youth mentoring. Bill Mauldin, Director of Family Ministries at Holy Covenant UMC in Carrollton, talked to volunteers about applying principles from the book “Good to Great” to youth programs.
Working together to create a smooth handoff between Children’s and Youth Ministry was
the subject of The Phases of Children’s and Youth Ministry. Amy Ruppersberg and David Magallanes are well positioned to tackle the subject. For one thing, they talk often and are working toward that smooth handoff with the children at Christ UMC. The transition from one phase of life to another can be a lot for some children to absorb all at once. Knowing the youth director personally while still in elementary school goes a long way toward easing the effect of growing up.
Pastor Kenny Dickson of Christ UMC, along with members Jerry Russell and Darren Gardner, presented the Taking It To the Streets session. Dickson explained how the title to a Doobie Brothers song became the church’s theme for the year. Which means intentionally going beyond the walls of the church into the community and actually becoming involved, not just simply being a presence. Going back to thinking of the church as the people, not just the physical building. Activities were planned with just that interaction with the community in mind. From the Easter egg hunt in a local park, to swim nights at the community pool, and delivering food to elementary children as part of Sack Summer Hunger. Mission, fellowship, and worship opportunities with the community are relatively endless. There is always a new need, a new soul to be saved, or new crises to help someone deal with. And all outside of the church building.
After the final sessions, everyone gathered in the gym for lunch. Which consisted of box lunches from Jason’s Deli provided by the North Texas Conference. Dot Stewart of CUMC helped set up the tables for lunch, as well as the breakfast table, and served drinks at both. Attendees and presenters alike gathered to go over what they had learned, new ideas they came up with, and general church and conference news.
Amy Ruppersberg and David Magallanes should be commended for planning the training event. The presenters should be commended for passing along the knowledge they have acquired through practical application. Amy and David thanked the volunteers from Christ UMC who helped the morning move along smoothly. The attendees should be appreciated for taking time out of their weekend to learn how to more effectively serve the children and youth. And all volunteers everywhere need to be thanked and appreciated. Since biblical times, when faithful volunteers kept house churches alive, volunteers are still keeping churches alive through ministry and mission – inside and outside of the church building.
Peace be with you.