Academy to educate children’s workers

2/21/2014

Academy for children’s ministry workers
Location: Canyon Camp
FIRST YEAR Aug. 1-3 and Dec. 5-7 (2014) Feb. 27-March 1 and April 17-19 (2015)
SECOND YEAR Feb. 27-March 1 and April 17-19 (2015) TBA (2016)

By Holly McCray

  • Children’s ministry at your church ended because the volunteer leader moved out of town.

  • The elementary-age classes need updated materials. There are so many resources! Which are best?

  • New children in your church don’t know basic Bible stories.

How do you make good choices to teach the youngest disciples?

An academy for children’s ministry workers will make its debut in August in Oklahoma.

If you are a children’s ministry leader, whether volunteer or paid staff, you will benefit from this training, assured Diana Northcutt, who is Discipleship for Small Membership Churches director/Conference Youth coordinator.

There is further benefit, too. For a local church, "this is about sustainable ministry, not ‘hire someone and be done with it,’" she said.

The academy will help local churches "develop their repertoire of resources to use within their congregations," said Rev. Northcutt.

In her role assisting smaller-membership churches across the state, she is aware of challenges in discipling young people. "If the church has a plan for sustainability of youth/children’s ministries, it will work for whoever does the job."

In the first academic year, the classes for children’s workers will be held on four weekends at Canyon Camp.

The full course will be completed in eight weekends across two academic years. Graduates will receive an Oklahoma Conference certificate in Children’s Ministry.

According to its synopsis, the course intends to give each adult participant, ages 22 and older, theoretical and practical skills for working with children. You will complete the course with new confidence and understanding for a healthy, safe ministry for children, grounded in United Methodist tradition.

This educational opportunity will be offered in concert with the successful Youth Worker’s Academy, beginning its eighth year in Oklahoma. That course has averaged 12 to 15 participants per year.

"We’ve got to train our adults, give them some biblical literacy, so they in turn can gave our youth and children some roots. Kids want to know the Scriptures," Northcutt said.

Charlotte Teel is dean for the new academy. "I see the difference in kids who have many Bible stories to lean on," she said.

An ordained deacon, she is a certified Christian educator with a doctorate in Children’s Spirituality. Her children’s ministry career began when she volunteered in 1974. She is associate pastor at Yukon-Good Shepherd.

Faith development in families is the greater vision for the academy, she explained. Well-prepared children’s ministry leaders also help equip parents.

"We have a lot of people who do not have access to training events, who need to strengthen their skills," explained Rev. Dr. Teel. "We’ve got to convince our churches to invest in that so they will have a strong program, so that children know the Bible."

Christian educator Leslie Long said, "My concern is if we don’t train up children, it’s harder for them to become faithful adults."

Educational ministries in the church have long been her calling. Rev. Dr. Long will oversee both the children’s and youth workers academies. She also is assistant professor of religious education at Oklahoma City University.

"These academies are more than just teaching the nuts and bolts," she said. "What are children and families going through that can impact their learning?"

She continued, "We appreciate passion, but sometimes people are not trained for what it takes. People flounder; they feel frustrated instead of empowered. We want those working with our children and youth to understand social and faith development … We try to look holistically.

"For anything we’re going to do on God’s behalf, we want to put our best foot forward."

To learn more: http://www.okumc.org/childrensworkersacademy.  Registration is $1,200 for the first year. That includes all textbooks and other materials, as well as room and board. Northcutt noted that Youth Worker’s Academy participants receive some 26 books each year for their libraries.

Contact Northcutt with questions about cost, class topics, etc. — dnorthcutt@okumc.org,  405-530-2144.

 

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