Sunday, March 14, 2010


For the record, I set my clock ahead one hour before I went to bed. And I set the alarm to give me enough time to get up, get ready, get breakfast, and report to the foyer for the church tour.

The alarm went off as scheduled. I shut it off and thought how grateful I was to be able to attend the premiere conference of its kind. I thought about all it took to get here, about the great resources and networking opportunities I would

My eyes opened and I turned my head to see I had less than 30 minutes to report to the foyer! I sprang from the bed with all the nimbleness of a gazelle (with a broken leg), showered, dressed, and headed out the door. No time for breakfast. I got to my destination on time and....waited. I probably would have had time to grab a bite before we got on the busses, but one never knows these things. Besides, I was anxious to get started on the church opportunity to visit different facilities and see how they have set up their environments for maximum effectiveness.

First up was Mission Valley Church of the Nazarene. I've actually been here before at a previous CPC church tour. Then, their sanctuary looked like this:
Now it looks like this:
Because it was Sunday morning, we attended the early service at the church. It was rather amusing to see the expressions of some of the people in the parking lot: "Uhhhh, what are these big tour busses doing here?" The service itself was what I would call modernized traditional (the hymns had a bit of a beat to them!). Excellent message on Zaccheus. The pastor even asked all of us to sing the song. Following the service was a very quick tour of the facility, followed by a nice lunch.

Then it was up north to our next destination: Saddleback Church.
To tour Saddleback adequately takes awhile. We had thirty minutes. But it was still worth the visit. Yes, they have a lot of money to spend on totally involved children's ministry environments, but that does not rule out the creativity and ideas that must flow through all children's ministries regardless of their budgets.

And then we hopped on the bus and flew south to visit one of my personal favorites: Shadow Mountain Community Church. I have a soft spot for this church, because it is the home of San Diego Christian College, my alma mater (back when it was called Christian Heritage College). It is amazing to see what all they have done with the place...and again, the short time we were there does not do it justice. The creativity and ideas were there, but so was the honest admission that some things are still in progress. Just like us.

Yes, the church tours were fast. Having them on a Sunday kind of limits what time a large group can do a tour. But my commendations to the host churches for their excellent job in showing us all around in a very short amount of time, particularly after ministering to all of the kids in their own congregations that morning. It was a fun (and tiring way) to start the morning. The big take-away (besides great ideas and maybe a little envy) is that our challenges in Children's Ministry are universal. I met a nice woman who ministers in Hong Kong. Her challenges: volunteers, facility use, networking. Hey..same as mine. One of the best parts of being at CPC is discovering that we're all in this together. And that's worth a bus ride punctuated by whirlwind tours!

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