What I Learned About the Need for Divorce Ministry 4 Kids from Speaking at the Engage Conference – Part 1

Last weekend, I was blessed to lead a five workshop Divorce Ministry for Kids track at the Engage Conference in Mechanicsburg, PA.  That opportunity grew out of a conversation over lunch with a children’s pastor friend in which I was lamenting the lack of such workshops and breakouts at most children’s ministry conferences.  So, when he invited me to speak at this conference, I couldn’t very well say no.

I was excited about, and grateful for, the opportunity to speak about a topic which I feel very passionate about, and I poured a lot of time into getting ready for the workshops.  I spent a couple of week gathering my notes for the five workshops:

  • Workshop A – The Forgotten Mission Field: Why Your Church Should Be Ministering to Children of Divorce
  • Workshop B – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: Changing the Church’s Attitude Toward Children of Divorce
  • Workshop C – Divorce Through Their Eyes: Understanding the Child of Divorce
  • Workshop D – First Steps: Starting a Ministry to Children of Divorce at Your Church
  • Workshop E – Sunday Morning and the Child of Divorce: Ministering to Children of Divorce in a Traditional Children’s Ministry Setting

From there, I spent hours and hours putting together the Powerpoint presentations (old school I know) to go along with presentations.  I think in the end I had something north of 400 slides for the five workshops.  I practiced the workshops and made sure I was prepared. I have 4-8 pages of notes for each conference as well as an eight page listing of resources for the attendees (40 copies of each plus 100 of the resource page) In the end, I felt ready and prepared to influence for region of south central Pennsylvania for the cause of Christ and the mission of ministering to these kids.

I finished up with Divorce Care 4 Kids late Thursday night, came home and packed up the care, and then got some sleep for the big day tomorrow.  I set off relatively early Friday morning to make the 350 mile drive from my home.  As I drove, I went through the workshops in my head one final time.  I checked into the hotel a couple of hours early and set out to work with the iPad app that I would be using to control the presentation.  That flopped as the free Wi-Fi at the hotel wouldn’t allow the two devices to connect.  I worked out plan b in case it wouldn’t work at the church either.

I ventured over to the conference about 90 minutes before it officially started.  I carried my computer and the box full of hand outs into the conference venue (a beautiful church) and was directed to the room where the workshops would be held.  I rearranged the tables and fiddled with the video and sound system to make sure the presentation software would work (it did thankfully though was a little glitchy).  I laid out my handouts, the books and other resources for a resource table and (of course) a big basket full of candy (there is, after all, no quicker way to a children’s workers heart).  I was ready to go.

I finished just in time for the keynote speaker’s (Sue Miller) opening presentation.  She spoke on the changing look of children’s ministry and the need to be prepared to minister to diverse families.  Could I have asked for a better opening?  I snuck out ten minutes early just to triple check that everything was ready.  I am a bit of a perfectionist at heart, and my topic was important enough that I wanted to make sure that everything went off without a hitch.

Then, it happened.  As the keynote speaker’s presentation ended and people began to filter out and into their workshops, I waited for the people to arrive at this critical workshop on the need for divorce ministry 4 kids.  The time clicked on as people began to filter into one room or another.  When it was all said and done,  my room, set up for 40-50 people, had four.  That’s right, four people.  I was a bit deflated, but I carried on with my presentation as planned – for a few minutes.  Technical problems with the remote application caused it not to run as smoothly as I would have liked, but it was ok.  Needless to say though, I was a little disappointed with the turn out.

Come back Wednesday morning for the exciting conclusion of this story…